Donald Trump

Donald Trump Promises to Out-Pork All Comers With More Than $500 Billion in Infrastructure Spending

He won't have his massive spending plans outdone by Hillary Clinton.


Ron Sachs/ZUMA Press/Newscom

The criticism at the Democratic National Convention last week directed toward Donald Trump had at least one significant flaw: They acted as though he had no policy plans at all, though in reality several of his economic proposals mimic what we hear from Democrats themselves. His anti-trade positions, his desire to punish companies that leave the United States, and his desire to use federal infrastructure spending as a jobs program all mimic things said by Democrats and even Hillary Clinton herself.

But Trump is a particularly special candidate in that he simply cannot allow anybody else to offer something that in his mind is better or bolder than what he's offering. So in an interview this morning, knowing that Clinton has proposed a $275 billion infrastructure spending plan over five years, Trump told Fox Business News that he would "at least" double that amount of spending.

So that would be at least $550 billion in spending. Remember that the big stimulus money spent under President Barack Obama's administration totaled $833 billion.

At the exact same time (in the same interview, no less), Trump says he's going to implement "the biggest tax decrease." This is crazy nonsense, and he says that he'll pay for his plan with a "fund" where people would "invest."

One big problem here (among many big problems) is that Trump, like Democrats, are focusing on infrastructure projects as a job program instead of a program narrowly focused on fixing the actual infrastructure—those bridges Trump says he is worried about. A focus on jobs indicates a desire to spread money around using infrastructure needs as a justification, not a purpose. As Peter Suderman noted in a Reason magazine cover story in 2013, the emphasis on using infrastructure spending as a "stimulus" rather than a plan to fix actual defined problems resulted in things like spending millions of dollars on toilets in national parks and ultimately a lack of evidence that it actually improved our economic situation.

Nobody wants to be an "investor" in such a program because everybody wants to be the beneficiary. This is a program where people want to receive the money, not pay into it. If Trump (or Clinton, for that matter) needs a better example, check out California's high-speed rail plans. This is a pure example of a program that has been designed to spread around money, not meet actual infrastructure needs of the Golden State. That it's passing through the central area of California instead of zipping between the urban centers of San Francisco and Los Angeles is a blatant payoff to make sure various labor groups get work and get their share of the pot (and for the local politicians to get credit and votes for bringing home some bacon). As such, particularly given the unlikelihood of the train ever operating at a break-even point, let alone a profit, they are unable to draw in private investors. People realize all the money is in building the train, not running it.

So is the potential for both Trump's and Clinton's infrastructure plans. If the goal is to spread around money, there will be plenty of hands out, but actual infrastructure needs become subservient to who has the most power and influence over the spending process. China, which Obama himself once praised for its infrastructure spending, has instead become a massive example of how government spending for the sake of creating the appearance of growth leads to cronyism, corruption, and eventually actual threats to public safety from shoddy outcomes. China spends big on infrastructure, and yet its bridges are still collapsing.

And let's not pretend that there hasn't been a constant drumbeat of jobs-focused infrastructure spending throughout Obama's administration, even beyond the initial stimulus. Matt Welch documented Obama frequently calling for more infrastructure spending as a jobs program, despite little evidence that this spending actual stimulated the economy.

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  1. Trump out-porking Hillary? Sounds like a SugarFree story.

    1. oh. dear. god.

    2. “As for the insinuations that Hillary’s clit is bigger than my schlong, let me tell you, there’s no problem there, all right?”

  2. Columbus cops teating body cameras…..ras-today/

    1. I’ll show you a body cam teat!

      1. I’ll play!

        1. Why are we talking about teats?

          1. Why not?

  3. …and he says that he’ll pay for his plan with a “fund” where people would “invest.”

    Has Donald Trump not heard of U.S. Treasury bonds?

    1. He does also mention bonds in there. I didn’t quote the whole thing.

      1. Odd, so then he’s just trying to say “drive up the deficit” without saying “drive up the deficit”? It’s a very weird turn of phrase to imagine “investing” in government.

        1. That’s the genius. You’re not investing in government, you’re investing in TRUMP. Soon the whole country will be as glorious as Atlantic City!

      2. He must’ve meant an independent bonding authority. That’s the great fiction by which state gov’ts attain capital w/o its liabilities.

    1. and then he punched the baby

    2. Shame he didn’t ask some of his team to go bottle some of the baby’s tears. That might’ve won me over.

      1. He could then drink the bottled baby tears during the debate.

    3. He doesn’t like hearing someone else’s kid wail at the top of its lungs in a closed public space? What a monster.

    4. See, a typical beltway politician kisses babies. And Donald is no beltway politician!

    5. That’s actually pretty funny.

    6. After all he’s said this week I’m starting to believe the conspiracy theory that he’s just here to get Hillary elected. One can only imagine how that deal came to be.

      1. Only NOW are you *starting* to believe?

        1. Well, look at the size of Donald’s ego. It’s hard to believe that it would ever let him allow someone else to beat him at something. I still can’t imagine what Hillary could have offered him to overcome that hurdle. Perhaps SugarFree has some ideas…

          1. I don’t think an explicit plan to torpedo his own campaign would be necessary. I suspect maybe Bill gave him the idea of running as a Republican, just to wreck havoc with the Republican party, assuming that sooner or later he would implode. Maybe they never expected him to get this far.

            1. ::Hill looks at Bill::

              “You arrogant ass. You’ve killed us!”

            2. I’m not sure Bill wants Hillary to win.

    7. Short-cycle retrograde amnesia explains a lot.

    8. All I can think is “I hope he doesn’t fuck up my commute”. To be fair, that’s what I think about all politicians.

  4. Wait, which party nominated this guy again?

    1. The party that believes in America, that wants to reform government, that wants to renew American values, that strives for American exceptionalism and most importantly the party that wants to Make America Great Again.
      Coincidentally, if you would like to purchase an official Make America Great Again, you can do so here!

      1. I would like to purchase an official Make America Great Again! Do you take Bennigan’s gift certificates?

        1. I used to hangout at a Bennigan’s.*

          *Let’s try to top that depressing statement.

          1. How about “I was hoping my friends would invite me to go hang out with them at Bennigan’s.”

          2. “My mother stood me up at dinner at Bennigan’s.”

          3. “I used to hang out at Appleby’s”.

            *drops mic*

    2. The Stupid Party

  5. The most beautiful bridges and roads don’t come cheap, Scott. And it will get Americans working again!

    1. Trump’s plan for zero unemployment: a giant Trump statue in every town plaza!

      1. In case you are thinking to yourself that those jobs will disappear once the statues are built – those statues are not gonna polish themselves!

        1. Just wait until he starts founding Trumplandias across the continent like Alexander the Great.

        2. “Well, I’m off to polish the Trump.”

          Euphemism? or job title?

      2. So Trump is going to try and outdo Venezuela’s Maduro and Turkmenistan’s President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

    2. Working? No, it just means three people standing around every road project for every one actually working, instead of the current 2:1 ratio. Maybe he will send out his apprentices to check for efficiency?

  6. “Why not use spoons instead of shovels?”

    1. Who are you so wise in the ways of economics?

      1. Just another (((Jew))), Ma’am.

    2. And not just any spoons, but those ceramic Vietnamese spoons. Try digging with those!

  7. he says that he’ll pay for his plan with a “fund” where people would “invest.”

    “Infrastructure Bank” or whatever the usual suspects call it?

  8. he’s just trying to say “drive up the deficit” without saying “drive up the deficit”?

    Listen- interest rates are so low right now we’d be crazy not to borrow all we can. It doesn’t matter what we spend it on, we just have to get out there and spend! spend! spend!

    1. I didn’t know you were a mamber of the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

  9. We’re all socialists now, even the Trump-voting libertarians.

    1. I thought we were all Keynesians now. I’ll let Tricky Dick know

  10. If the goal is to spread around money, there will be plenty of hands out, but actual infrastructure needs become subservient to who has the most power and influence over the spending process.

    Feature, not bug.

  11. He’s running against Hillary Rotten Clinton. He has a grass-roots thing going. This should be the easiest win since Reagan crushed Dukakis. Talk about ending corruption and cronyism, fair trade if you want, getting the federal government under control, tax reform and growth. Boom – easy win.

    Instead he’s in a Twitter war with some dead soldier’s dad, and promising to spend half-a-trillion on make-work bullshit. WTF?

    Being his campaign manager has to be a nightmare. Like trying to teach a cat to do a trick while mice are running by and people are shining lasers on the wall.

    1. Did you mean since Bush crushed Dukakis or since Reagan crushed Mondale?

      1. Yeah – Reagan / Mondale. Although it was really Reagan that beat Dukakis. As soon as moderate, tax-raising GW emerged from Reagan’s shadow the voters fired his ass.

        1. The bad economy didn’t help, but that definitely hurt him with eventual Perot voters.

      2. Since the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor

    2. “getting the federal government under control, tax reform and growth. Boom – easy win.”

      Parroting Romney is your strategy? It didn’t attract Dem voters 4 years ago, no reason to assume it’ll attract them this time.

      1. Romney was definitely a flawed candidate, but he was running against incumbent president Barack Obama, who is a much more formidable opponent than Hillary Clinton.

        1. But Trump has been running to the left of Clinton and the rest of his Republican rivals. Hence the promises of public spending and jobs. To tack to the right (by adopting Romney’s platform) now that he has secured the nomination makes no sense. Republican loyalists are already in the bag. Now he has to attract disaffected Dems, and spouting Romneyisms isn’t the way to do it.

          ” Barack Obama, who is a much more formidable opponent than Hillary Clinton.”

          Trump on the other hand seems to damage himself than suffer from whatever damage is dished out by his rivals. (His bizarre attacks on the ‘Mexican judge,’ this muslim mother,..) This seems to neutralize Clinton’s weaknesses as a candidate.

          1. You’re looking at an unconventional candidate in a conventional fashion. Trump’s problem is that he alienates large portions of the electorate and comes off as knowing little to nothing about policy. Where he is on the ideological spectrum is the least of his concerns.

            Regarding the last paragraph – that’s my point.

            1. “Where he is on the ideological spectrum is the least of his concerns.”

              That’s to his loss. If he wants to attract the Dem crossovers he needs in the swing states, he needs to emphasize jobs and public spending and lay off the bigotry. I feel it must sound very grating to Dem ears, even for white working class Dems.

    3. That’s party of the plan. He there to make Hillary Clinton look modest and statesmanlike, instead of like a shrill bitchy harridan the way everyone perceived her in 2008.

  12. Wow I had no idea Trump was so conflicted over his public statements:…

  13. I haven’t followed his policy statements on this, but I do think its odd and perhaps unfair that Trump is being held to the standard that career politicians have set, rather than something new and potentially different.

    “infrastructure stimulus” Jobs programs have been a crony boondoggle, funneling most of the money away from where it would have done some good. Obama has been a joke on this, laughably talking the benefits to the plebes, while only his cronies get rich.

    That said, is anyone arguing that we don’t desperately need infrastructure investment? States need to pick up some slack, but major projects have been the Fed’s responsibility. I really don’t see the downside in significant investment in infrastructure. Rail, bridges, interstates, communication. I’d like to see Federal investment in medical research as well.
    The cronyism is the problem, not the spend itself. Why do we assume Trump will be more of the same?

  14. Certainly some things need fixing. I wish the Koch brothers would get smart and invest in toll roadz so they could make money from the roadz as well as the fuel burned on them.

    Why do I have to be the one who thinks up this stuff?

  15. “Donald Trump Promises to Out-Pork All Comers With More Than $500 Billion in Infrastructure Spending”

    I heard he burns ants with a magnifying glass just to amuse himself.

  16. I left my office-job and now I am getting paid 98 usd hourly. How? I work over internet! My old work was making me miserable, so I was forced to try something different, 2 years after…I can say my life is changed-completely for the better! Check it out what i do…


  17. he says that he’ll pay for his plan with a “fund” where people would “invest.”

    He must be referring to a bonding authority: a quasi-governmental entity that borrows against expectation of revenue from the projects it funds. Trouble is, everyone assumes they’re gov’t liabilities, no matter what the legal fiction. They can be completely private in name, law, stated intentions, yet they’re’ll be inexorable pressure to bail them out w tax $ if they need it.

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