Investing in our crumbling Infrastructure seems like a no brainer. All of the Democrats and President Trump campaigned on spending a lot on infrastructure. President Trump promised to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure and $200 billion rebuilding our decrepit inner cities. This is a popular idea because it will instantly create jobs that can not be shipped overseas, and because a good infrastructure boosts the economy and spurs businesses and corporations to expand.The big question is where will the money come from? Republicans think that any spending can not be paid for by new taxes or other revenue sources. Any spending must be paid for by cuts to other programs. They have big plans to increase military spending and to give everyone tax cuts. That will reduce revenue drastically and about half of discretionary spending is military, so even eliminating all domestic programs won’t pay for everything they want. About 75% of government spending are to popular “entitlement programs” like Social Security and Medicare and to the military. President Trump has already said that he won’t cut Social Security or Medicare, so where will infrastructure spending come from?
Republicans are also vehemently opposed to stimulus plans because they think that the federal government can’t do anything right, and that the free market and the states can and should do everything. The problem with this argument is that the states are broke and have no money for infrastructure, and also that much of the infrastructure is national in nature. Things like roads, bridges and dams are federal programs.
There are also questions about what projects should receive funding. The Republicans say that major projects take years of permits, studies and research, and they want things that can be underway within a120 days. The Obama stimulus program had similar handicaps. There were very few “shovel ready” projects that would make an immediate impact. There is also the threat of withholding federal funds to “Sanctuary Cities”. Will only red states and cities in red states get funding?
What projects are the most important? Most people think that Flint Michigan should have it’s water system rebuilt so the citizens are no longer poisoned with lead poisoning. Reuters reports that 3,000 Neighborhoods Have Higher Lead Levels Than Flint. http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2016/12/reuters-3000-neighborhoods-have-higher-lead-levels-flint
Most of the nation’s Nuclear plants are dangerous, and over 25 years past their design life. They should be shut down and replaced with clean renewable power. Also all of the nuclear waste from the last sixty years are being temporarily stored and we have not found any permanent storage. That will take trillions of dollars. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/01/nuclear-waste-underground-storage
70,000 bridges nationwide are considered structurally dangerous and here in Oregon half the bridges could fail during an earthquake. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/falling-apart-america-neglected-infrastructure/
What about our rail system? Places like China and Japan have 300mph trains but in our country the rails are in such bad shape that oil trains derail just about every other month. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/84b1e8273d854697b34af57bc60badc2/timeline-recent-oil-train-crashes-us-and-canada
What about airports and runways? What about subways and other transportation systems? What about the thousands of miles of water supply pipes that are leaking? What about sewage systems that are still spewing untreated waste into our rivers? What infrastructure do you think is most important?
Most of our infrastructure like our highways and bridges use a combination of public private collaboration. Generally the state or federal agencies do the designs and then accept bids from private contractors to do the work with federal state and city inspection of that work. That system works pretty well.
Should the federal government do it? https://www.downsizinggovernment.org/infrastructure-investment
It’s Time for States to Invest in Infrastructure http://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/its-time-for-states-to-invest-in-infrastructure
Building the case for greater Infrastructure Investment https://www.ft.com/content/b2c914dc-751c-11e6-bf48-b372cdb1043a