Monday, November 7, 2016

Mad Don: The Road Warrior

Remember the joke that anti-government Libertarians sure love to use public highways to drive to those rallies?  And you know, it gets even funnier because Libertarians have zero sense of humor and always respond with "Well, maybe if we had more toll roads and bridges, at least they would be paid for." Sure, that would essentially be a massive, regressive tax on the poorest Americans especially in places without public transportation, but it's not like anyone's actually going to do that to the federal highway system, right?

So do we want to take a guess at what Donald Trump's big infrastructure plan is?

Trump, as you might have noticed during this long, emotionally torturous campaign, likes to wax poetic about America's collapsing bridges and “third-world” airports, and he has vowed to fix up the country by doubling Hillary Clinton's proposed spending on infrastructure. At the same time, he’s also promised to pass gargantuan tax cuts while limiting the budget deficit.

This has all raised an obvious question: How, exactly, does America’s angriest clementine plan to pay for all of this building? I mean, Mexico isn't going to cover the wall and repairs to I-95, is it?

Thankfully, we now have an answer from two of Trump's chief economic advisers. In a report from Oct. 27, University of California–Irvine professor Peter Navarro and private equity honcho Wilbur Ross outlined how the candidate would transform about $167 billion of federal tax credits into $1 trillion of infrastructure spending. Factor in the effects of economic growth, they argued, and the cost to taxpayers would amount to zero, zilch, nada. Or, as they put it, the whole thing would be “budget neutral.”

Of course, it‘s not really free. Americans would just end up paying for the construction a bit later on.

Under Trump's plan—at least as it's written (more on that in a minute)—the federal government would offer tax credits to private investors interested in funding large infrastructure projects, who would put down some of their own money up front, then borrow the rest on the private bond markets. They would eventually earn their profits on the back end from usage fees, such as highway and bridge tolls (if they built a highway or bridge) or higher water rates (if they fixed up some water mains). So instead of paying for their new roads at tax time, Americans would pay for them during their daily commute. And of course, all these private developers would earn a nice return at the end of the day.

One of the big fights here in Cincinnati is over the Brent Spence bridge, which carries I-71/75 traffic across the Ohio River and is one of the busiest trucking bridges in the country.  Republicans really, really want to turn it into a private toll bridge because it would be a massive profit generator for whoever got the bid. Voters really, really want to throw out whoever votes for such a plan in either northern Kentucky or southwest Ohio.

Trump vowed to fix the bridge with this plan on Friday at his rally in Ohio.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump rallied in Clinton County Friday, announcing he'd replace the Brent Spence Bridge if he is elected.

Trump spoke at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Airborne Airpark, vowing to bring jobs back to America, rebuild inner cities and to keep the country safe from terrorism.

“We’re going to fix and invest in our inner cities, we’re going to bring jobs back to the inner cities,” Trump said.

Trump did not announce how he planned to replace the Brent Spence or what he would do to cover those costs

Of course not.  Those plans come later, after you've already fallen for the scam.

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