Why doesn’t President Trump push for a huge infrastructure bill?

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

If President Trump passes a huge infrastructure bill this year, it will go into effect in 2019, and have full effect in 2020, before the elections. Trump will be re-elected, and serve a full 8 years.

So why doesn’t Trump fight for this? Apparently he is only proposing $200 billion over several years, which is a joke. The USA is in urgent need of at least $2 trillion in repairs, and an infrastructure bill would be extremely popular with blue collar union workers who otherwise tend to vote Democratic.

If Trump fails to win re-election, the reason will be this weak infrastructure bill. Whatever other flaws Trump has (too numerous to mention) I believe a good portion of the public would still vote for him, if he could claim he was finally rebuilding the economy.

Paul Krugman offers some possible reasons for Trump’s failure to do the obvious:

And even the $200 billion is essentially fraudulent: The budget proposal announced the same day doesn’t just impose savage cuts on the poor, it includes sharp cuts for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy and other agencies that would be crucially involved in any real infrastructure plan. Realistically, Trump’s offer on infrastructure is this: nothing.

…So why isn’t Trump proposing something real? Why this dog’s breakfast of a proposal that everyone knows won’t go anywhere?

Part of the answer is that in practice Trump always defers to Republican orthodoxy, and the modern G.O.P. hates any program that might show people that government can work and help people.

But I also suspect that Trump is afraid to try anything substantive. To do public investment successfully, you need leadership and advice from experts. And this administration doesn’t do expertise, in any field. Not only do experts have a nasty habit of telling you things you don’t want to hear, their loyalty is suspect: You never know when their professional ethics might kick in.

So the Trump administration probably couldn’t put together a real infrastructure plan even if it wanted to. And that’s why it didn’t.

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