America’s Crumbling Infrastructure Reaches Critical Mass

Recent news has a big headline: American engineers have given the country’s infrastructure a D+ grade. This sounds bad, and while bridges and dams aren’t quite collapsing yet, it’s a clear sign that the time for action is upon us.

Thankfully, we have a president who foresaw this need even before he became president and is primed and ready to fix the situation. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is the group who created the report, and it comes just in time to strengthen Trump’s impending proposal for advanced infrastructure spending.

The Report

ASCE reviews America’s infrastructure every four years, and their latest review shows accelerated decline. They looked at a number of different sectors, and none scored an A in this or the previous report. For the past four years, the only sector that has shown improvement was railways. Their B score comes on the tail of a $27.1 billion effort in 2015 to improve reliability and capacity.

No other sector scored better than a C, and the worst of all is transit. With a grade of D-, ASCE suggested that delayed repairs have increased the price tag to fix the problem by roughly $90 billion in the last four years.

Overall, aging resources and facilities in every sector need work. The estimated price tag to get the overall grade up to a B (meaning everything is safe and can generally handle capacity demands) would cost the country $4.59 trillion over 10 years. This is almost double the $2.5 trillion number that has been thrown around by politicians so far, and well above any proposals that have actually made it to the floor in recent years.

Politics

Speaking of politics, this will likely be one of the largest issues that shapes the mid-term elections. While the public eye is currently focused on health care, the GOP’s proposals on that front are not radically different from Obamacare.

Despite calling it a repeal, it’s really more of a basic reform that fixes the most glaring problems. Infrastructure spending will be a much larger issue, mostly because it will be tied heavily to tax reform, and it will impact tax bills for most voters.

Trump has released the early parts of his plan on the topic, and they start with getting Congress to approve $1 trillion in additional federal spending. This falls short of the estimates provided by ASCE, but it could be a great start to repairing the most glaring problems.

Trump has said in meetings that he won’t push his proposal until after healthcare reform is settled, and he’ll likely tack it onto the end of major tax reform discussions.

The primary reason for the delay comes down to party lines. While both parties largely favor revitalizing infrastructure investment, they differ greatly on how to accomplish their goals. Republicans want to streamline the effort through private investment through tax credits. Democrats prefer direct spending, directly hiring contractors to do the work.

The major point of contention between the two ideals is revenue. Democrats favor capital taxes on the rich to pay for infrastructure. Republicans want to offer a repatriation tax holiday that could bring roughly $200 billion in corporate holdings back through the borders. While this doesn’t cover the whole price tag, it can fund the initial efforts.

There will be a lot of negotiation in the House before anything substantial happens, but one thing we can trust is that Trump will do his utmost to accelerate the process. His proposal to Congress to begin infrastructure spending will give states 90-days to draft their first projects. Approval of projects will prioritize renovation and expedient start dates.

Trump has hit the office faster and harder than any of his predecessors. He has already made small strides in immigration reform, and he has Congress hammering out the details to fix Obamacare. He wants tax reform and infrastructure handled by the end of summer.

If he can maintain the pace, he just may have an explosive economy and rapidly improving infrastructure checked off of his list within his first year and in plenty of time for the next election cycle. Once again, he has made it clear that he will fulfill his commitments, and in this case he will literally be making America great again.

~ Facts Not Memes


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