2018 State of the Union

Expectations are high in anticipation of the content of President Trump’s first State of the Union Address. It is expected he will recount the positives from the first year of his presidency and detail some of his plans for 2018. Those certainly will begin with the immediate concern: Immigration. But many feel his SOTU 2018 proposals will lean heavily toward infrastructure improvements that are far beyond being a dire need.

Meanwhile politicians on the Left and several on the Right have dug in their heels at President Trump’s projected project spending for DACA that includes $25 Billion for border security including the wall. Shortly dollar projections needed for infrastructure improvement will be revealed. Leaked details explain the plan’s funding will come from a balanced partnership between state and local investment assisted by federal funding. Two people briefed on it said it would likely recommend dividing $200 billion in federal funding over 10 years into four pools of funds. The administration is structuring the plan to encourage $1.35 trillion in state, local and private financing to build and repair the nation’s bridges, highways, waterworks and other infrastructure, one source said. Many Republicans want to use private-sector investment to finance infrastructure projects to avoid increasing the national debt. Democrats believe that government money is necessary to produce such a large package.

Under the Trump plan being shaped, the largest share of the federal money – $100 billion – is expected to go toward cost-sharing projects with local governments, similar to grants. The goal would be to reduce the ratio of federal funding, which often now is 80 percent, by awarding funds only to projects that are able to provide more local funding or leverage private investment. $50 billion would be earmarked for rural projects. Those funds would help governors on projects like roads, broadband access and replacing aging lead pipes. Including a pool for rural infrastructure could also reduce concerns among some Republican senators who fear rural areas may be unable to attract private investments. Twenty-five billion dollars would go toward existing federal infrastructure loan programs that seek to spur private investment.

The final $25 billion would be designated for so-called transformative projects – an effort being dubbed “American Spirit” projects. They could include high-speed trains or the Gateway Tunnel, the stalled proposal to build a new rail connection between New York City and New Jersey. The plan may not deliver any additional federal money than in years past. The proposal could take $200 billion from existing spending plans – although the administration has not yet committed to whether it would come from existing programs or whether the money would be found elsewhere.

We will see and hear specific details of the President’s infrastructure program. It is hoped that Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle can for the first time under President Trump find common ground for this desperately needed rebuilding of the nation’s infrastructure so poorly treated in previous administrations.

President Obama famously promised massive infrastructure improvements in 2008-2009 as part of his $792 Billion stimulus program. That’s “Billion” with a “B.” In case you forgot, how was that $792 Billion spent under Obama?

  • $36.9 billion for Aid to People Affected by Economic Downturn

  • $48.4 billion for Education

  • $324 million for Accountability

  • $58.4 billion for Aid to State and Local Governments

  • $41.4 billion for Energy

  • $13.1 billion for Science and Technology

  • $18.8 billion for Health Care

  • $870 million for Business

  • $98.3 billion for Transportation and Infrastructure

  • $2.1 billion for Miscellaneous Recovery Act Programs

  • $3 billion for Cash for Clunkers

  • $48.3 billion for Infrastructure (named the “Mainstreet Act”)

  • $26.7 billion for Public Service Jobs

  • $79 billion for Emergency Relief for Families

  • $34 billion for the Extension of Unemployment Benefits

  • $30 billion for Small Businesses in Obama’s Second Round of Stimulus Spending

  • $50 billion for Infrastructure Spending

$196,600,000,000 — that’s $196.6 Billion — was budgeted and funded specifically for infrastructure programs listed above in the Obama Stimulus Program. But only $23.76 Billion was actually spent for infrastructure programs. Where did the rest go? Nobody’s talking.

So What?

Sadly the story above is not an unusual one to come out of Washington D.C. Congress is infamous for wasting taxpayer money. Politicians love to make promises for pet projects and pork programs to attract support from voters. President Obama was masterful at creating programs that voters longed for. He was much more proficient than many of predecessors at getting those projects funded. But sadly his stimulus program left much undone but with all the money spent — all at the expense of taxpayers. That was nothing new.

Summary

So will President Trump be different? I’m pretty certain he will. His business past and his ability to plan and implement plans specifically for infrastructure projects gives him a significant advantage over most other politicians. In his private building projects he was famous for beating budgets and completing projects ahead of schedule: saving money and saving time.

If his infrastructure plan looks anything like has been leaked, it will not only be different than most in the past, it if implemented and successful will probably initiate a new type of planning and budgeting. Though any economical success story initiated in D.C. should be welcomed by all, those on the Left will excoriate any such plan. Why? Because it will come from Donald Trump. Forget about any historical success or budgeting plan that makes sense. The only thing that matters to Dems is if it is something proposed by this President, they hate it.

In the shadow of President Obama’s famous Stimulus boondoggle program sometimes called “The Obama Pork-ulus,” any infrastructure or other financial program that meets or beats a Congressional budget line-item projection should be championed. If this plan does work as it is rolled out, American politicians may rail against it. But taxpayers. basking in the first financial triumph of Donald Trump — Tax Reform — will welcome it. And headed into the mid-terms in which the Dems so desperately need to fend off the conservative tide creeping into D.C., another Trump win will create pandemonium on the Left.

But one thing is certain: another financial success for this President will further increase his base of support among voters. If that happens, getting therapy appointments on E. Street in Washington will be impossible for a while. Democrats will have them all.


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