US President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order expediting “high priority” infrastructure projects. But while the move to revitalize America’s roads, bridges and airports is a welcome one, the question remains: does the U.S. have the money and the resources to see it through?
According to the Transportation Department, the push to finish current infrastructure projects will need a massive $926 billion to finish. Business Insider reports that there are indications that the GOP-led Congress, along with Democrats in Congress, will deliver the amount over a proposed 10 years.
The problem with any fast-track project is that they have to go through a lot of hoops and face a number of stumbling blocks. President Obama admitted in 2009 that his “shovel-ready” bill could not be carried out. The cause of the delay was ultimately the legislation. For another, there were not enough skilled workers to do it.
The Private Sector
The Democrats, for their part, agree with President Trump about the need for infrastructure and have introduced a $1-trillion building plan. However, they were explicit in saying that the plan will not make use of tax breaks and private funding. This is exactly the opposite of what President Trump’s plan was. The President wanted to give tax credits and tax breaks to companies which will help finance infrastructure projects.
The Democrats understand that the tax breaks for the infrastructure will not go to the workers. They expect that there will be no appreciable increase in employment and salaries for workers. They reason that the projects are not new but are already in the pipeline. Any government incentive for financing the projects will just enrich the private sector.
In addition, if a project will not be revenue generating, it’s not likely to be financed by the private sector. If the private sector will place toll booths to recoup their investment, the public will most likely not want these projects done in the first place.
The Republicans, on the other hand, do not agree with the Trump directive nor with the Democrat proposal. They feel that the directive from President Trump looks like a stimulus package. They do not want to have anything to do with a stimulus package. They also feel that the $1 trillion price tag is too high.
Regulations & Red Tape
On top of the legislative wrangling and the opposition to President Trump, there is also the problem of red tape. The reason there is a backlog of projects to the tune of almost $1 trillion is due to state, local and departmental regulations. These rules are a constant pain in the neck for construction projects.
Infrastructure projects can take decades to get started when they get caught up in red tape. And instead of speeding things up, this could ultimately cause more delays, or worse, not get projects done at all.