Should-Read: David Dayen: “Brad DeLong is wondering what happened to the Trump infrastructure policy…
…He’s correct that the brief hope of an actual push of public money into a building boom is dead and buried. But that was never the Trump plan; it was what DeLong calls the “bunga-bunga” policy—tax breaks for public-private partnerships to give rich investors control of the commons.
And while Congress could give a rip, you can see what Trump is up to by looking at the 2018 budget.Granted, it’s a fantasy document Congress has no intention of looking at. But you have to look at all the cuts to infrastructure projects in there. It completely eliminates funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program, affecting dozens of transit initiatives. TIGER, which Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao called her “favorite program” in confirmation hearings, is also zeroed out. A funding program for rural infrastructure is gone. Part of the $3 billion Community Development Block Grant program goes to infrastructure too.
When asked about this, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said it was intentional. The administration plans to shift that money into “more efficient infrastructure programs later on.”
So not only will private equity guys get to scoop up infrastructure and put tolls on everything, they get their pick of projects that would already have had funding in place. It’s just a bonanza.