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An Infrastructure Plan or a Big Con?

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It looks like an infrastructure plan but is really a privatization scheme. It looks like an infrastructure plan but is really a plot to roll back even more regulations that protect the environment. It looks like an infrastructure plan but is really a scam to enrich the wealthy at the expense of everyone else.

Those are some of the reactions against President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan, unveiled last week. It claims to fulfill Trump’s promise to spend $1.5 trillion in infrastructure upgrades, but calls for the federal government to spend just $200 billion over 10 years. Nobody knows where the rest of the money would come from.

AFSCME, which supports an alternative plan that would bring real benefits to working people and the economy, has long been clear about what the Trump infrastructure plan is truly all about. As AFSCME President Lee Saunders pointed out last year, “It’s a colossal $200 billion corporate handout, which will outsource good jobs to private interests at the expense of safety and accountability.”

Others echoed those views after Trump finally released his plan after pledging to do so many times but failing to follow through.

“The president’s infrastructure proposal would do very little to make our ailing infrastructure better, but would put unsustainable burdens on our local government and lead to Trump tolls all over the country,” said Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer. “It is a plan to appease his political allies, not to rebuild the country.”

Trump’s plan is a privatization scheme that would sell public assets to wealthy investors, as many have pointed out. The trick is to incentivize private investment to put forth the missing money, but why would any private investor do that unless it’s actually a good investment – and that would mean ownership of public assets with huge tolls and fees?

Also, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, the kinds of infrastructure projects Trump’s plan is likely to support aren’t necessarily the ones people need the most. Relying too much on private investment will lead to projects that are expected to be most profitable for private investors, and those may not be the same as much-needed projects in communities across the country.

Trump’s plan would also trigger “one of the most significant regulation rollbacks in decades,” as Politico says. It would cripple even more the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to protect our environment.

“Industrial facilities like coal plants and steel factories could get 15-year Clean Water Act pollution permits — up from five years — that would be automatically renewed. For some infrastructure permits, the deadline for opponents to file legal challenges would shrink from six years to 150 days,” according to Politico.

Instead of allowing for proper review of an infrastructure project’s impact on the environment, Trump’s proposal would try to hurry it through. And it would eliminate the EPA’s authority to oversee determinations about which streams and wetlands are subject to protections.

Trump’s infrastructure plan is not really about infrastructure at all – it’s about benefitting corporations and the wealthy, just like his tax plan. And that’s certainly not in the nation’s interest.