Leaked Copy of Trump's Infrastructure Plan Reveals Emphasis on Private Investment

The document gives us the most detailed take yet on the administration's $1 trillion infrastructure plan.



In Trump's America, every week is infrastructure week.

Donald Trump came into office promising a detailed $1 trillion infrastructure plan within his first 100 days. That timeline did not quite work out, leaving his administration to dole out vague principles and sometimes contradictory hints about the package over a series of seemingly endless "infrastructure weeks."

Monday gave us the most detailed look yet at Trump's intentions, thanks to a six-page draft "funding principles" document leaked to Axios.

Bob Poole, director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation (the nonprofit that publishes this website) had a "fairly positive" reaction to the document. "It's consistent with the idea that they've said all along, that there is not going to be mass amounts of federal money," he says.

Trump's team has long suggested that the plan will use $200 billion in direct federal funding to entice an additional $800 billion in state, local, and private financing. The leaked document focuses on where that direct federal spending will go.

Some 50 percent of the $200 billion is allocated to an "Infrastructure Incentives Initiative" covering everything from surface transportation and airports to storm water facilities and Superfund sites.

The feds would be restricted to paying for no more than 20 percent of any such project funded under this section, and the money will theoretically be steered toward those projects that would generate sustainable nonfederal revenue. The federal government currently funds upwards of 50 percent of project costs on major infrastructure projects, so Poole is glad to see a smaller federal role envisioned.

The document also calls for the elimination of federal restrictions on interstate tolling.

Though hardly crumbling, many of the nation's interstates are in need of repair. A 2015 Department of Transportation report found that 36 percent of the nation's federal-aid highways are in good shape, as measured by the International Roughness Index. Another 44 percent score "fair" on the index, while a full 20 percent are in "poor" condition. Tolling offers a way to repair the system without the massive gas tax increases favored by business interests; instead, direct user fees would pay for repair, maintenance, and expansion.

Poole thinks such user fees could attract billions in investment from private infrastructure firms, which could transform the highway system with dedicated lanes for semi-trucks and semi-autonomous vehicles.

This is still, to be sure, a proposal to spend billions of taxpayers' dollars, opening the door to all sorts of waste and cronyism. About 35 percent of the direct federal funding would still go toward traditional tax-and-spend infrastructure projects. That includes 10 percent for "transformative projects," described as "viable projects unable to secure financing through the private sector due to the uniqueness of the program." In those cases, the feds would provide up to 80 percent of construction costs. So taxpayers might have to shell out for Elon Musk's hyperloop after all.

Another 25 percent of the direct federal funding in Trump's infrastructure plan (about $50 billion) would go to projects in rural states. Unlike the Infrastructure Incentives Initiative, these would be block grants given for governors to spend with few restrictions. Poole sees this as a political move to shore up support for a final bill. "The clear feedback from Congress, including Republican senators, particularly Republican senators from rural states," he says, "is if you expect to get an infrastructure bill largely on self-help and [public-private] projects, that's not going to fly."

Indeed, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.), who chairs the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, has insisted explicitly that projects built around private funding "may be innovative solutions for crumbling inner cities, but do not work for rural areas." Sens. Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jodie Ernst (R-Iowa), both of whom sit on Barrasso's committee, are also skeptical about the idea.

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  1. Trump’s “tax cut” adds trillions to the debt as will this infrastructure plan. The GOP has become the party of Keynes.

    1. Let’s tax ourselves to prosperity.


        1. Have you noticed that sevo does not viciously attack you when you make points like this?

          1. Sevo in fact does fire up the ad hominems no matter what I say.

            He just must not be here right now.

            Have you noticed lately how he pumps up Trump with RECORD DOW HIGHS every day? He never mentioned the Dow records 2013-2016.

            Actually, sevo seldom makes any argument.

            1. Well, a super-smart economic genius said, on election day, that the stock market would never recover from Trump’s win.

              1. Some of us notice when you people all have the same talking points all at the same time.

                1. Pot calls kettle black.

                  1. Surprise, Trump – Obama beat you to the shovel ready jobs.

                2. Who you callin’ “you people”?

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          Socialism does have a meaning, you know (state ownership of the means of production…). And the state hemorrhaging money on infrastructure is not it. Team Red was founded as, and remains today the party of mercantilism. This type of funding for what we might call “internal improvements” is right up that alley. You might try to read a little history. Then you’d find a time when the Republicans were the bigger spenders and the Democrats were the party of free markets and low taxes. That ended when the Democrat party was co-opted by actual socialists.

          1. state hemorrhaging money on infrastructure is not it.

            Yes it is (among other things) like Medicare, Social Security, Medicare Part D, military, nation-building, and many other things that the GOP supports that could be privately owned.

            1. While I agree that those are not in the legitimate purview of the gov’t (with the exception of the military, of course), Welfare =/= Socialism. And having a military is not a socialist endeavor.

              1. Of course welfare = socialism.

              2. The federal government owns and operates a retirement system (SS) and a health insurance system (Medicare, Medicaid, VA) – those are “means of production” by any measure.

                Whether they are for profit or not is immaterial. It is socialism.

                1. Most orange dotards just do not get that.

                2. They don’t own the only means of retirement, or health insurance you fucking retard.

        3. GOP: Trump may be a Democrat, but he’s our Democrat.

    2. Yup. I made the argument a while ago that this tax cut is pure Keneysian deficit spending.

      1. The crazy thing is that Keynes himself would see 4% unemployment, which he would consider near “full” employment, and prescribe raising of interest rates and decreases in spending.

        1. Yes, but the Dotard ran on the premise that our economy was in a US made shithole when in reality we were at full employment, low to no inflation, low interest rates, 2-3% GDP growth, and record stock market highs.

          But the stupid flyover riff-raff believed we were Venezuela.

          1. Perhaps the stupid flyover riff-raff are aware of and understand that we are not, and have not, been at full employment. They don’t buy DOL U-3 numbers as the gospel. What moron would?

            Perhaps the stupid flyover riff-raff understand that during the chocolate mass murderer’s regime, we set records for the number of working age adults being out of the workforce

            1. I accept U-6 numbers. What is the official number? Around 8?

              To paraphrase Sam Kinison “MOVE OUT OF THE FUCKING DESERT!”

              If you live in a hick town where Wal-Mart is the only employer you should GTFO.

              1. The problem with your assumption is that most of the unemployment, particularly the long-term unemployed live in rural areas. The reality is they live in cities. Cities like Detroit, Baltimore, NYC, and Chicago which have been run by Progressives for 40-50 years. Somehow giving people “free” money and housing, pushing unions, increasing taxes, and passing business killing regulations hasn’t created boomtowns anywhere.

          2. We’re not at low to no inflation anymore. At least not where I am. Inflation has been actually noticeable in the past year or so. Prices creeping up everywhere.

            1. Gasoline/fuel prices are moving up but still far less than previous highs.

              Where I live milk is $3/gal and eggs are $1/dozen. What prices are moving up other than the two that usually always do (healthcare and homes)?

          3. But the stupid flyover riff-raff believed we were Venezuela.

            Hasn’t the ASCE been giving us D-level grades on our infrastructure intermittently since at least 2005?

            Not to say that the ASCE is God’s honest truth but that the flyover riff-raff have been fed the ‘investing in infrastructure’ line since long before ‘shovel-ready projects’ were a gleam in Obama’s eye.

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    4. If only the Democrats would agree to cutting $150BB in spending.

      Of course, that would require the idiot Republicans to offer up $150BB in spending to be cut…

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  2. “…has insisted explicitly that projects built around private funding “may be innovative solutions for crumbling inner cities, but do not work for rural areas.”

    Why wouldn’t it work in rural areas?

    1. I suspect a bit of political posturing going on there. “Elections have consequences” and such.

    2. I assume due to less interest from potential investors. Returns likely being lower, and payout times taking substantially longer tending to make them look elsewhere for opportunity.

  3. Good luck getting the states to pony up that much dough.

  4. doesn’t every president make essentially the same plan, government with private investment and what private entity would invest its own money if there wasn’t guaranteed profit backed by the U.S. government. the same old sham we hear every time

    1. Pretty much. But you know what, I’ll take the wasteful spending of billions at home as opposed to the wasteful spending of billions abroad.

  5. Should build some gulags… for the um.. illegals…..

    1. The idea is, by getting rid of them we wont have to.

      Of course we already have gulags chocked full of illegals, only we call them prisons.

    1. Ok.

  6. So…nothing about fixing our rickety and terrible electric grid?

  7. Why are the Rethuglican leaders planning on massive federal spending on shovel-ready, Union-paying jobs, when they should be raising taxes?

    They’re never serious about actual governance.

  8. In Trump’s America, every week is infrastructure week.

    It’s better than shark week.

  9. Just another ‘crisis or ‘bill’ to pay off the cronys!

    I’m from the government and I’m here to give all of that politician’s brother money.

    1. This is one of the rare instances where it might pay to look at what Europe does and ask ourselves why it costs us 5 to 10 times as much to build stuff.

      1. More talented cronies?

        1. More talented cronies?

          Less motivated cronies. French or Greek cronies will eat brunch in the park at 10:30 on a Tues. for free. You’d have to pay American cronies to get the same level of service.

      2. This is one of the rare instances where it might pay to look at what Europe

        I watched news coverage of the Grenfell Tower incident, does that count?

        Seriously, there is no infrastructure problem in the US and, even if there is, Europe is no better. Germany’s “lack” of investment is widely touted as being a bad decision and, obviously, infrastructure in Greece or rural parts of Poland aren’t dramatically superior to those in the US.

  10. In Trump’s America, every week is infrastructure week.

    Was there a pledge, campaign promise, or policy tweet promising to make America great again, one week at a time? I don’t recall any such notion and it seems exceedingly… rigorous and pointless for this President to set such a timeline.

    I do recall NPR in the early part of his presidency emphasizing the day/week count and using it as a bit of a foil to show that he’s an incompetent boob who hadn’t yet appointed a sufficient number of cronies to their phoney-baloney positions. Then, once that was no longer news, they transitioned more into the ‘tax reform week’, ‘infrastructure week’, and ‘ACA week’ mode. It was somewhat notable because I also recall thinking “Huh, I don’t remember judging Presidents on a strictly weekly basis before.”

    1. Trump’s been in office for over a year and he still hasn’t received a Nobel Peace Prize – slacker!

  11. “Trump’s been in office for over a year and he still hasn’t received a Nobel Peace Prize”

    What’s Pud need that for? Apparently he got a prize piece of ass!

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  13. Anything would be better than ARRA.

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