President Donald Trump came into office and shocked Democrats with a promise to pass an infrastructure bill.
They did not know quite how to react, especially after Trump began courting the unions that would benefit from the jobs he wanted to create. Then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) cautiously welcomed the idea; California’s then-Gov. Jerry Brown declared: “Amen, brother!”. But quietly, Democrats maneuvered to defeat Trump’s proposals.
Democrats were terrified lest Trump be identified with infrastructure spending, something that Democrats had seen as their own turf since the New Deal era. They want Americans to connect “middle-class” jobs with federal government spending, which means electing Democrats to spend ever-greater amounts of money.
That desire ran up against the left’s regulatory zeal, especially on environmental issues, which has stymied infrastructure spending on large scales
Trump wanted to get rid of red tape in the permitting for infrastructure projects. But he also had a bold, new idea that Democrats found even more threatening: using the private sector to drive investment.
In 2018, Trump proposed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, only $200 billion of which would come from the federal government. After all, in areas like broadband, the private sector had already shown itself superior to government “net neutrality” in building out the grid.
Republicans controlled both houses of Congress. Theoretically, passing Trump’s infrastructure plan should have been a no-brainer. But the worst-kept secret in Washington is that Republicans are almost as addicted to federal spending as Democrats are. And Republicans in the House — and especially the Senate — were not about to endorse a new model for infrastructure that took money out of their control. Republicans soon lost the House, and a golden opportunity.
Today they are prepared, just three years later, to accept the terms Democrats are dictating to them — without a border wall; without the Keystone XL pipeline; and with just $110 billion devoted to “roads and bridges,” less than 10% of a $1.2 trillion compromise plan.
Meanwhile, the left plots an even more expansive “infrastructure” bill that will include $3.5 trillion of excessive spending, driving inflation to new highs.
Republican voters are not going to be impressed.