Eight years ago today, newly-elected President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act committing $800 billion for job development, education, tax cuts, renewable energy and other investments. Eight years later, we have a White House in chaos, a whirlwind of misguided, ill-conceived policies, blatant lies, burgeoning scandals, understaffed government agencies and an increasingly frightened population.
It didn’t have to be this way.
Think of where we would be today if the Trump administration had made an infrastructure bill its first priority, rather than repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, terrifying millions of American who rely on the ACA for health care. Rather than issuing an executive order banning travelers from Muslim countries without bothering to conduct a legal review, Trump could have had a bipartisan victory.
Instead, his controversial cabinet choices are dividing the country. His executive order has been blocked in court. His press conferences are an embarrassment. His obsession with his loss of the popular vote and his false claims about voter fraud reveal his petty, narcissistic nature and absolute lack of self-control.
With little to no warning, he has reversed decades-long policy in the Middle East and has given new life to the anti-American jihadists. He is already waist-deep in his first scandal which has led to the resignation of his national security advisor and is prompting an investigation of the administration’s troubling ties to Russia.
As a lifelong Democrat and former Obama administration official who was disgusted and offended by Trump’s hate-filled campaign, it’s gratifying to watch him stumble and flail, but as an American citizen its deeply alarming. His failure is our failure. The hate he inspires affects all of us. Maybe Trump’s political base is fired up by his boorish behavior and his phony “fake news” campaign, but the rest of the world is appalled.
Meanwhile, across America, we have crumbling bridges, roads and schools and rail lines, airports and seaports in need of improvement. We have millions of Americans looking for work even as Trump inherited a low unemployment rate, a growing economy, low gas prices and record stock prices.
The Trump White House needs to hit reset. Stop scaring people and show some leadership. Put some smart people in a room and come up with a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Democrats will have to support it even if they don’t like some of the details. America needs investments, not tax cuts. We need high-wage, construction jobs all across America.
Trump can spend the next four years cutting ribbons surrounded by men and women in hard hats. An infrastructure bill can even include Trump’s promised wall on our southern border, even though a poll from a few months ago showed a majority of the country opposes it.
The fact is we already have a wall along a third of the 2100-mile border so there’s no reason Trump can’t extend it. It remains to be seen how he’ll get Mexico to pay for it but he did get elected on this promise to build it and the projected $21 billion cost could easily hide in a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill.
President Obama graciously advised Democrats to accept Trump’s victory and root for his success and I take him at his word. I don’t want Trump to fail because I don’t want America to fail. I will vigorously resist Trump’s wrong-headed policies and challenge his lies but I want our country to move forward.
Right now, an infrastructure bill would unite Democrats and Republicans, would give Trump a needed victory and would thankfully redirect our attention away from the petty, stupid squabbles consuming the media towards something real, productive and long-lasting. For God’s sake Donald, try and do something right. This is a no-brainer.