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Robert Reich: Trump’s Humongous Infrastructure Con – OpEd

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It’s the biggest Trump con since he told Americans the tax cut would help them more than the rich. He’s calling for a $1.5 trillion boost in infrastructure spending – but he’s proposing just $200 billion in federal funding.

So where does the rest come from? Tax hikes on the middle-class and poor, and from private investors.

1. State and local governments, already starved for cash, would have to raise taxes.

2. Private investors, for their part, won’t pitch in unless they’re guaranteed a good return on their investment, most likely in the form of tolls and other user fees. Or worse, governments might be forced to transfer ownership of roads and bridges to private corporations.

So the public will end up paying twice: in higher taxes and higher tolls, and won’t even get what’s needed.

3. Projects that will be most attractive to big investors are where tolls and fees will bring in the biggest bucks: Brand new highways and bridges rather than the thousands of smaller bridges, airports, pipes, and water treatment facilities most in need of repair.

4. Trump’s infrastructure plan only worsens the racial justice divide in America, by leaving disadvantaged communities behind while giving massive profits to the rich and corporations through new tolls and fees.

5. It’s a double con because now that Trump and the Republicans have enacted a huge tax cut for corporations and the rich, there’s no money left for infrastructure. The White House says the $200 billion of federal spending will be offset by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget, but doesn’t explain how or where. Given what we know of Trump’s and the GOP’s priorities, that means taking money from programs that protect vulnerable Americans, not from the billions in wasted on military spending.

A real infrastructure program – as opposed to Trump’s fake program – would focus on repairing existing infrastructure, doing so based on need rather than financial returns, prioritizing public transportation over private, and clean water and renewable energy over projects that generate more pollution.

And it would be paid for by closing tax loopholes used by big corporations and the rich, not by imposing higher taxes, Trump tolls and user fees on the rest of us.

To really make America great again we need more and better infrastructure that’s for the public – not for big developers and investors.


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Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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