POLITICS

Trump's Budget Sets Aside A Fraction Of What He Says Is Needed To Fix Infrastructure

The president suggests carving out $200 billion in federal funding, and relying on private tax incentives for the rest of the $1 trillion.

President Donald Trump hasn’t unveiled his promised $1 trillion infrastructure initiative, but the White House offered an early outline of the plan Tuesday when it released the budget blueprint for fiscal year 2018.

The 62-page document, which calls for draconian cuts to safety net programs while boosting military spending, seeks $200 billion in federal funding over the next 10 years to overhaul the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and waterways. Trump’s plan will otherwise rely on “incentivized non-federal funding,” or private tax incentives meant to spur investment in infrastructure projects.

“Simply providing more Federal funding for infrastructure is not the solution,” the White House said in the document, adding that the administration will “work to fix underlying incentives, procedures, and policies to spur better, and more efficient, infrastructure decisions and outcomes.”

Trump’s plan faces a difficult path in Congress. Democrats want a large commitment of federal funding for infrastructure projects. They also remain wary of using tax incentives to spur investment, saying such revenue streams allow wealthy investors to enrich themselves with tax giveaways.

Republicans, on the other hand, are not likely to support additional federal funding in Trump’s infrastructure package. Last month, dozens of conservative anti-spending groups called on the administration to reject any plan resembling former President Barack Obama’s stimulus package, which committed billions of dollars to fund “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects.

Overall, Trump’s budget would cut the Department of Transportation’s discretionary spending by nearly 13 percent. It also seeks to cut $95 billion from the Highway Trust Fund, which provides money for road construction projects across the country. Trump earlier this month signaled his openness to raising the national gas tax, which finances the trust fund. The White House walked back his statement, however, after resistance to the idea from GOP allies on Capitol Hill.

Senate Democrats on Tuesday called Trump’s proposal insufficient to address the looming problem that is the nation’s aging infrastructure system, and claimed that its tax incentives would only benefit wealthy Americans.

“Instead of providing resources to community leaders, the president is throwing taxpayer dollars at wealthy investors,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. “This massive cut to public funds in exchange for an elite giveaway will lead Americans to pay for the roads they own while our infrastructure falls further into disrepair.”

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