Donald Trump broke with recent Republican orthodoxy (again) and said he wants a $500 billion infrastructure stimulus program. Bloomberg reports:
Donald Trump on Tuesday proposed a plan to rebuild U.S. infrastructure that costs “at least double” the amount that Hillary Clinton has floated, in what would amount to a massive new government program.
Asked on Fox Business Network how much he’d spend, the Republican presidential nominee said, “Well, I would say at least double her numbers, and you’re going to really need more than that. We have bridges that are falling down. I don’t know if you’ve seen the warning charts, but we have many, many bridges that are in danger of falling.”
Clinton’s plan, which is estimated to cost $275 billion over five years, calls for setting up a national infrastructure bank to help fund large-scale projects, an idea that President Barack Obama advanced only to see it stall for lack of Republican support.
Trump, like Clinton, says he will pay for the infrastructure with “a fund” financed in part with low interest rates. Paul Krugman, of course, was thrilled:
Paul Ryan finally finds something Trumpian to condemn — and it's the one thing Trump is right about https://t.co/LN9KgIdUKt
— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) August 2, 2016
But Paul Ryan’s opposition points to something we’ve been trying to hammer home: A lot of Americans think debt-financed infrastructure spending is a waste of money, and so do their representatives. It’s going to be a challenge to change their minds without making other reforms.
We’d like to see something done about our roads and bridges, but the fiscal hawks are onto a real problem: U.S. infrastructure is too expensive and too shoddily-constructed. Simply spending more won’t make our bridges get built and repaired faster, nor will it make our rail systems run on time. Just as much as lack of funding, the mess of private interests and inefficient bidding processes are responsible for the current state of U.S. infrastructure. Simply writing a big blank check seems like a good short-term solution but, in the long run, it will make reforming the way our infrastructure gets constructed even more difficult.