Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump's infrastructure proposal - The art of the no-deal

You might have detected some moments of weakness evidenced by your Scriber in the last day or so of posts at this blog. Along with other Trump critics, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, I saw some areas of potential bipartisan cooperation in Trump’s agenda to address pressing national needs. But it turns out the deeper you dig, the stinkier it gets. Below is Trump’s affirmation of his agenda in a new video and then a dissection of his “infrastructure plan” which is a flimsy cover for more tax breaks for the wealthy. The question increasingly is whether we can keep the “con” out of Con-gress.

CNN (and other news sources) reports on Trump’s new video about his legislative agenda, Donald Trump outlines policy plan for first 100 days.

Trump promised to withdraw from negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, cancel environmental restrictions put in place by President Barack Obama, ask his national security team to buttress against infrastructure attacks, have the Labor Department investigate federal worker visas and impose broad new bans on lobbying by government employees.

The six items Trump detailed Monday are all somewhat easy lifts inside Washington – because they can be done with a simple signature by Trump and do not require congressional approval.

But Trump also left out his biggest campaign promises – including promises to build a wall along the Mexican border, establish a “deportation force,” place new restrictions on immigration from some majority Muslim countries, repeal Obamacare and spend $1 trillion on infrastructure.

Unlike his items unveiled Monday, those measures would require the approval of Congress and are likely to take significantly more work.

Indeed. And about that last item, a gigantic infrastructure program? Bernie Sanders has a bit to say about getting duped.

Vox.com has this report: Bernie Sanders said he would work with Donald Trump. Then he saw Trump’s infrastructure plan.

At first, Sen. Bernie Sanders’s tone with Donald Trump was conciliatory: “To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him,” he said in a statement after Election Day.

Then he saw Trump’s infrastructure plan.

Sanders’s tone changed; he tweeted that the president-elect’s plan for infrastructure is a “scam,” proving just how difficult working with a Trump administration will be in practice: Let’s Rebuild our Infrastructure, Not Provide Tax Breaks to Big Corporations and Wall Street.

Sanders went on to write:

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump correctly talked about rebuilding our country’s infrastructure. But the plan he offered is a scam that gives massive tax breaks to large companies and billionaires on Wall Street who are already doing phenomenally well. … Unlike Trump’s plan, which creates new tax loopholes and is a corporate giveaway, my Rebuild America Act would be paid for by eliminating tax loopholes that allow hugely profitable multinational corporations to stash their profits in offshore tax havens around the world.

To many Democratic politicians, infrastructure was theoretically one of the few areas where working with President-elect Trump seemed feasible: “Surprisingly, on certain issues, candidate Trump voiced very progressive and populist opinions,” soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told NBC’s Chuck Todd Sunday. “For instance, getting rid of the carried interest loophole, changing our trade laws dramatically, a large infrastructure bill.”

Scriber takes no comfort in being the company of other Dems who got scammed by Trump’s proposal.

But as Sanders’s blog post and tweet showed, their ideas don’t line up all the way.

Take infrastructure, for example. As Vox’s Brad Plumer explained, as much as Trump loves the idea of infrastructure, his plan wouldn’t actually do much to fix American infrastructure:

What Trump has right now is an idiosyncratic proposal for Congress to offer some $137 billion in tax breaks to private investors who want to finance toll roads, toll bridges, or other projects that generate their own revenue streams. But this private financing scheme, experts across the political spectrum say, wouldn’t address many of America’s most pressing infrastructure needs — like repairing existing roads or replacing leaky water mains in poorer communities like Flint. It’s a narrow, inadequate policy.

That’s not going to cut it in a bipartisan bargain. Sure, the big ideas on these policy issues, like improving infrastructure, striking fair trade deals, and closing unfair tax loopholes, are notions both parties agree on.

The problem is that’s a facile conciliation. When it comes to drawing up policy, there’s going to be a bit more of a fight.

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