Trump Isn’t Saving Rural Infrastructure – He’s Selling It Out
President’s plans to privatize rural infrastructure, where revitalization is desperately needed, hurts far more than they help.
President Donald Trump recently traveled to Ohio and Kentucky to follow up on his campaign promises to rebuild America’s rural infrastructure. Along with his speeches, Trump released a six-page proposal on how American infrastructure was finally going to receive the treatment it deserves after scathing reviews by the American Society of Civil Engineers. However, someone forgot to tell the president that follow-ups are typically more specific and solution-oriented than ambitious campaign promises.
Upon closer inspection, we find that Trump’s plans have little to do with the robust development and public spending that are needed to improve the roads and bridges of rural America, but much more to do with the unnecessary privatization of our common, public resources. In addition to wide-ranging cuts to important public infrastructure programs, his proposal only adds to his track record of selling out labor in favor of corporations.
AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders responded to the plan, saying it “isn't an infrastructure plan at all. It’s a colossal $200 billion corporate handout, which will outsource good jobs to private interests at the expense of safety and accountability.”
Among other things, the president laid out four principles that are rather misleading. He plans to:
- “encourage self-help” in communities, which means federal assistance in infrastructure development would be reduced;
- “align infrastructure … with efficient investment,” which means selling off our public projects to private corporations;
- “target federal investments,” which would largely ignore direct federal investment in infrastructure that is critical;
- “leverage the private sector,” which means subsidizing profits for companies to build in low-return areas.
Because private companies tend to be more interested in lucrative, large-scale projects such as airports or mega-bridges, there’s little incentive for them to pursue small-scale, small-yield projects that rural communities need.
As a result, these corporations will heavily tax the usage of these rural roads and bridges with tolls to make up for the smaller returns they’ll earn. According the former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, the privatization of rural infrastructure essentially makes American taxpayers pay twice for their infrastructure. Once for the $800 billion tax credit to corporations, and a second time to finally use that rural road to get to the store or drive to and from work.
What’s worse, there is no guarantee that the jobs lost because of this privatization will return to these areas. Many important U.S.-based jobs could be lost to overseas contractors and outsourced to non-localized labor.
Whether it’s enacting deep cuts to Amtrak in 23 states, overhauling the Federal Aviation Administration in a way that would harm smaller airlines and airports, or selling out road and bridge projects to corporate interests, it’s clear that the Trump administration’s plans to rebuild our nation’s rural infrastructure are nothing more than empty words.