Thomas Gallatin / December 22, 2016

Infrastructure Spending: Partisanship or Practicality?

Paying for America’s needed repairs and upgrades may require compromises.

Partisanship can be a powerfully persuasive force for both good or bad policy. Note the power of partisan persuasiveness that compelled Democrats to stand united to pass that disastrous legislation known as ObamaCare without a single Republican vote. It was also the power of partisanship that helped Republicans erect walls of opposition to stymie much of Barack Obama’s agenda.

Since his presidency began, one of Obama’s major talking points for creating jobs has been government spending on infrastructure projects. He promised that rebuilding America’s aging roads and bridges was going to provide “shovel ready” jobs and get the economy going again. Few disputed the need for infrastructural repairs and updating, but there were two sticking points for conservative Republicans: how the federal government would pay for it and whether it would produce economic growth as the Keynesians promised.

Enter Donald Trump, whose election proved that Americans were fed up with politics as usual and believe Trump, with his business acumen, has the know-how to get the economy rolling again. Many congressional Republicans have taken note, bringing that old, powerful force of partisanship into play again.

Trump has taken Obama’s line that the nation’s aging infrastructure needs to be addressed. Trump also knows that it will come with a massive price tag of at least $1 trillion. Where will the money come from? Will Republicans who refused to go along with Obama’s demand for massive spending increases to pay for infrastructure be swayed to do just that with Trump? The report is that many Republicans are more willing to go along with a massive spending increase, but is this evidence of partisanship overruling principle? It may be in part, but there is also a massive difference between Obama’s overall agenda of increased socialism and Trump’s plan to grow the economy through tax and regulation cuts. Trump is putting together an impressive economic team to go along with his own business record, which has earned him a degree of trust that Obama, who hadn’t run so much as a lemonade stand, never had.

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