Op-ed: Now is Trump’s time to shine in rebuilding America’s infrastructure

President Trump demonstrated he can work with the Republicans in Congress by passing the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. The nation’s sagging infrastructure offers an opportunity to reach across the aisle and prove he can lead the nation in common purpose.

Whereas he failed to convince Democrats that tax cuts were prudent and could be fair, most everyone agrees rebuilding America’s infrastructure is needed but is terribly difficult.

The shortage of federal, state and private funds to upgrade Interstate 95, metropolitan New York’s mass-transit system and other facilities around the country exceeds $1 trillion.

Through 2025, the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates inefficiencies imposed by outdated facilities will cost $3.9 trillion in lost GDP — not to mention the terrible frustrations we endure commuting to work, running businesses or just visiting family at the holidays.

By addressing the mess, big cities stand to gain a lot — something Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer should love — and the jobs created in smaller municipalities and rural communities would be substantial — a direct boost to the GOP’s political base.

Sadly, political stars are as much crossed as aligned. Finding the money and the penchant for the courts to arrogate policymaking authority from democratically elected legislatures has frustrated political and business leaders of all stripes.

Federal and state budgets hardly have the $1 trillion the Trump administration says is needed to catch up the nation’s infrastructure investment. Initially, several hundred billion was to be found by taxing U.S. corporate profits parked abroad, but that money was used to help lower the top corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent.

Some projects could be financed by raising dedicated taxes — most notably the gas tax to fix roads and bridges — but many in Congress and motorists fiercely oppose that solution. Too often, highway funds are spent wastefully and on green projects such as bike paths.

Mr. Trump should seek consensus with unions to streamline work rules so that the Davis-Bacon Act, which essentially requires union workers on federally assisted projects, results in fewer workers merely leaning on shovels. In exchange, he offers more dollars for the roads and genuinely productive jobs. A bike and tire excise tax to finance cycling projects makes sense too.

The administration is pushing hard for private financing, but state experiments with private investors have often resulted in exorbitant utility bills, unreliable ambulance services and bankrupt toll roads — or at least roads too expensive …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News


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