Home > Uncategorized > The Trump Infrastructure Plan Privatizes Public Services, Relies on Profit Motive to Define Projects

The Trump Infrastructure Plan Privatizes Public Services, Relies on Profit Motive to Define Projects

Over the past several days, countless articles have appeared either touting President Trump’s so-called “Infra-structure Plan” or calling it out as flim-flam. Whether one views it favorably or not depends in large measure on how one views the notion of the market as a force for good… and whether one believes that market forces have applicability to public projects. As anyone who reads this blog regularly realizes, I am skeptical about the marketplace as a positive force and I see some huge limitations to the proposal… especially as it applies to public schools.

First and foremost, as Valerie Strauss notes in her blog post, the reporting on the Trump administration’s “Plan” has downplayed one key fact: the Democrats assessment of the 2019 proposed budget indicates that it “calls for more than $240 billion in federal funding cuts to current infrastructure programs, which is more than he proposes spending on new infrastructure.” 

Secondly, the recent tax bill will make it increasingly difficult for state and local governments to raise the matching funds envisioned by the federal government.

Thirdly, if private funds are the source, there must be a means of making a profit in order to attract investors. While road and/or bridge repairs could be funded by tolls, it is hard to fathom how school facilities could be upgraded while collecting an analogous “user fee” from students or parents.

Finally, no one in either party seems to be wiling to tell American voters the truth: if we ever hope to find the estimated $2,000,000,000,000 needed for infrastructure upgrades in the next decade we will need to raise taxes… and the public seems unwilling to do so. Better for them to believe that by cutting “waste fraud and abuse” it will be possible to fix the roads, repair the dilapidated schools, and replace the crumbling bridges.

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