Tag Archives: infrastructure

Does the Trump ‘infrastructure’ plan include this new highway?

EN ROUTE TO LAKE LIVINGSTON STATE PARK, Texas — Donald J. Trump has a few ambitious goals on the table for Americans to ponder. One of them involves what is called “infrastructure.” In other words, the rebuilding, rehabilitating, construction of highways, bridges and the like.

On our way south along U.S. 59, I was struck by signs we saw posted along the highway: “Future I-69 Corridor Project.”

Yep, the plan is to build a new spur in the massive interstate highway network created in the 1950s by another Republican president, Dwight David Eisenhower.

Ike dreamed of the interstate highway system long after he traveled from the West Coast to the East Coast as a young Army officer. It took several weeks to get from coast to coast. That was long before the interstate highway system was built. Eisenhower pushed Congress after being elected president to build the interstate system because he did not want Americans to spend so much time traveling along antiquated roads and highways.

The highway system arguably is Ike’s most profound presidential legacy.

Now there are plans afoot to add to that system through much of East Texas. I would be amazed and impressed beyond all measure if the government is able to pull this off.

U.S. 59 is a nice highway as it is at this moment. We had a wonderful drive south from Northeast Texas through the Piney Woods to Lake Livingston. It is divided by a median along some stretches; even where the medians don’t exist, the highway is well-maintained with smooth pavement.

The plan, if it comes to fruition, is going to result in enormous disruption of people’s lives in communities that sit astride U.S. 59. Cities such as Nacogdoches, Lufkin and Livingston will be torn apart by heavy construction as federal, state and local crews create a limited-access highway through the Piney Woods.

I favor infrastructure improvement. I am not sure that Donald Trump will be able to preside over this massive project. It doesn’t matter to me which president takes credit for its completion.

If such a project is to include the I-69 Interstate Corridor, then the folks along the current highway right-of-way — from Texarkana to the Rio Grande Valley — need to prepare themselves for a serious disruption of their lives.

Where is POTUS on issues many of us support?

By my unofficial count, I believe Donald Trump has put forth exactly two policy pronouncements over the first half of his term with which I agree.

One of them deals with corrections reform; the other involves infrastructure renovation.

However, what does The Donald do with that Twitter account of his — the medium he uses ostensibly to make these policy announcements? He uses it to bash the media, concoct conspiracy theories about his opponents, bully his foes … and on and on in that vein.

I’m still waiting for some serious follow up on the first of the policy matters I mentioned, the one dealing with corrections reform and federal sentencing policies. Infrastructure repair essentially is off the table, given its trillion-dollar-plus price tag and the federal budget deficit and debt that are exploding before our eyes.

Sentencing reform came to the fore after Trump — at the urging of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West — commuted the sentence of a first-time drug offender. The president was correct to call attention to the inflexibility of federal sentencing policies. He said those policies should mirror states’ sentencing guidelines, which give judges and juries far more flexibility.

But the president isn’t using Twitter to push those policies. Instead, he is focusing on stupid disputes, petty arguments, insults and innuendo and an assortment of ridiculous feuds.

I want the president to make the case for the one remaining policy argument that, in my view, is worth discussing.

Step it up, Mr. President!

Let’s ‘walk and chew gum’

Washington, D.C., is the birthplace of countless clichés.

Such as, “At the end of the day,” we’re going to “kick the can down the road” while deciding whether to “walk and chew gum.”

The third — walking and gum-chewing — is the latest cliché du jour. It refers to lawmakers’ ability to investigate the president and legislate at the same time.

Donald Trump needs to learn that skill. Today, he demonstrated his inability to do what needs to be done for the benefit of the country he was elected to govern. He is angry with Democrats because they insist on getting at the truth behind questions about obstruction of justice, on the president’s personal finances and on whether he is covering up potential misdeeds.

Congressional Democratic leaders ventured to the White House today to meet with the president on infrastructure improvement, something Trump said he favors. Oh, but then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said something out loud about believing that Trump is “covering up” possible illegal activity.

The president hit the ceiling. He walked into the meeting room, didn’t shake any hands, didn’t sit down at the conference table. He stood and spoke for about 3 minutes and said he was done working with congressional Democrats on any legislative matters.

Then he walked out. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer said Trump’s actions this morning were “jaw dropping.” He said the president walked into the meeting room with no intention of working with Democrats on infrastructure.

This is what we’ve gotten? A president who once pledged to “unify” the country who now walks away from any possible major legislative effort because he is angry at Democrats who are keeping faith with their constitutional mandate?

I remain opposed to impeaching this guy because impeachment — at this moment — likely will not result in his removal from office. House Democrats would impeach Trump; Senate Republicans do not appear likely to convict him.

However, Donald Trump’s continued petulance and the chaos that results from legitimate questions, though, is giving me serious concerns about whether impeachment is inevitable.

Infrastructure reconstruction? Sure, but how?

I am inclined to support Donald Trump’s plan to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. He wants to spend more than a trillion bucks to remake our roads, highways, bridges, airports and rail lines.

The Republican president sounds like a big-spending Democrat with this bold notion. To which I say, bring it on!

Here’s the deal, however. How are we going to pay for this?

The president and his Republican congressional allies have just pushed through a big tax cut that slashes corporate income taxes and helps many Americans at the top of the income ladder. Corporate leaders are kicking back those tax savings to their employees, which is a good thing.

The tax cut is going to explode the federal budget deficit, not to mention add tremendously to our $20 trillion national debt.

What price will we pay to finance this huge infrastructure plan that has come forth from the president? Are we going to sacrifice more in social programs? Will there be cuts in Medicare, Social Security?

I don’t expect the defense establishment to pay for this infrastructure plan. Trump proclaims his love and admiration for the military. As do I. This is another area of agreement I have with the president.

I’ve already mentioned here that I consider myself to be a deficit hawk. President Barack Obama and Congress managed to pare down the annual deficit during Obama’s two terms. His successor, Trump, now is on the cusp of exploding it yet again.

Cutting taxes while at the same time spending more than $1 trillion to rebuild our infrastructure in my mind just doesn’t compute to anything other than adding billions and billions to the annual deficit.

I would like to support the infrastructure improvements. It’s the potential consequence of this massive expense that gives me pause.

Infrastructure repair? Not an issue with this derailment

There goes the immediate argument for repairing, rebuilding and renovating our nation’s rail infrastructure.

It’s not that we don’t need to fix our total infrastructure — highways, bridges, airports and, yes, railroads. Accordingly, Donald Trump’s insistence that the government spend a trillion dollars for a comprehensive reworking of our nation’s transportation system is spot on.

However, the derailment that occurred Monday morning in the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash., area appears to be the result of human error. You see, the Amtrak train that few off the rails was roaring along at 80 mph on a stretch of rail with a posted speed limit of 30 mph, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. That’s nearly triple the speed limit.

The train was making its initial run on a route between Seattle and Portland.

The wreck has killed at least three people, injured scores of others.

It also has created a serious discussion about training rail engineers and whether this particular engineer was (a) asleep at the controls, (b) distracted by someone in the locomotive or (c) simply being careless.

In the meantime, we should offer prayers and support for the loved ones of those who died and for those who were injured in this terrifying event.

Oh, yeah, the victims … the victims, Mr. President

On occasion, it’s worth noting that the initial response to tragedy can be construed as the thing that comes to one’s mind first.

An Amtrak train derailed this morning between Seattle and Tacoma, Wash. Millions of Americans saw the TV coverage live at the time and thought, “Oh, my goodness! Those poor passengers … and the motorists who were caught on the interstate highway below!”

How did the president of the United States respond immediately?

He tweeted some nonsense about how the accident makes it imperative for Congress to enact an infrastructure improvement plan he has put forward.

Critics jumped all over Donald Trump for the seeming insensitivity in that initial Twitter message. He then fired off another one expressing his dismay for the victims and offered prayers for them.

Fine, Mr. President. We appreciate the thoughts and good wishes.

Many of us would think more of them if they were contained in the president’s initial response to the tragic derailment.

These projects don’t pay for themselves

Donald J. Trump’s proposal to cut taxes — notably for the wealthiest Americans — is getting considerable play in conservative media and political circles.

The president thinks he’s on to something. He has pitched what his team has called the most sweeping “tax reform” package in U.S. history.

Now …

Let’s get real for a moment.

* The president also wants to enact a few big projects. He has proposed spending an additional $54 billion next year alone on the Department of Defense. He contends the military is depleted and, of course, blames the previous administration for all but rendering us defenseless against our enemies.

* He also wants to rebuild our nation’s roads, bridges and airports. The price tag for that? A cool $1.2 trillion. This is a project worth doing, given the sorry state of our highways and airports. I’m still baffled as to how this plays among fiscal conservatives who (a) voted for Trump in 2016 and (b) say they dislike spending money the government doesn’t have in the bank.

* The president also wants to build that “big, beautiful wall” along our southern border. The price tag varies on this matter, but I’ll go with the bigger number that’s been floated: $25 billion. I do not believe the wall will be built. Nor should it be built. Still, the president insists that it will and he no longer is saying at every campaign-style rally that “Mexico will pay for it.”

These things do not pay for themselves. Thus, Americans across the land need to ask themselves: Are we willing to step up to shoulder the cost of all these projects or are we going to ignore the reality that the money must come from each of us?

The tax cut mantra has become standard Republican Party policy. President Reagan famously sought to cut taxes while “rebuilding” the military. He railed against President Carter’s budget deficits, only to preside over a skyrocketing deficit during his two terms in office. President George H.W. Bush challenged us to “read my lips” while vowing at the GOP convention in 1988 to never raise taxes; which helped get him elected. He then raised taxes — wisely, in my view — and it cost him votes among his conservative GOP base in 1992. President George W. Bush cut taxes in 2001, then went to war with international terrorists after the 9/11 attacks; the deficits exploded.

A new Republican president is now proposing another massive tax cut while at the same time seeking to do big things. With what, Mr. President? Where’s the money coming from?

I hate the wall idea. If the president wants to stem illegal immigration, then invest more money in better enforcement along both of our lengthy borders — north and south — and at ports of entry along all three coasts.

The defense buildup doesn’t need to cost nearly what Trump is proposing. Our military remains the strongest in the world.

Infrastructure improvement makes sense, but it’s going to cost Americans a lot of money to get it done.

Are we going to fall for the GOP tax-cut dodge because we don’t want to pay for the things we insist that government do for us? Or are we going to understand that our government requires us to spend a bit of our money to make it work?

What about the deficit and the national debt?

trump

Hey, wait a second! Didn’t Republicans around the country gripe their voices hoarse about the size of the federal budget deficit and the debt that President Obama was running up?

Didn’t they proclaim that the world would come crashing down around us all if we didn’t get a handle on the debt?

That was before Donald J. Trump got elected president this past week, apparently.

Now it looks as though we’re about to blow the deficit apart and run up even more debt, now that the GOP is in control of the White House and Capitol Hill.

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/deficit-donald-trump-republicans-231372?cmpid=sf

Trump wants to enact a massive infrastructure spending bill — while cutting taxes.

Let me see if I can figure this out. You spend billions of dollars, cut revenue to pay for it and then you watch the debt pile up and, oh yes, run up annual budget deficits that under Obama’s watch had been cut by two-thirds.

As Politico reports: “’There is now a real risk that we will see an onslaught of deficit-financed goodies — tax cuts, infrastructure spending, more on defense — all in the name of stimulus, but which in reality will massively balloon the debt,’ said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.”

I guess the GOP is going to return to the refrain that came from former Vice President Dick Cheney, who once declared (in)famously that “deficits don’t matter.”

Well, they do matter, Mr. Vice President. I consider myself a deficit hawk and it troubles me that the upcoming GOP spending spree well might threaten our economic recovery.

If we determine we need to repair our roads, bridges and airports, then we ought to dig a little deeper for the money to pay for them.

And to think the Republican Party once ran on the principle of fiscal responsibility.” What the new president is proposing — and what the GOP-run Congress is likely to approve — is anything but responsible.

Infrastructure now becomes controversial

Americans not even as old as I am can no doubt remember when infrastructure spending drew support from politicians of both parties.

It was a consensus deal. Get it done. We need those roads and bridges in tip-top shape. We drive our motor vehicles over them. We’re carrying the kids and pets in our SUVs. We’re hauling travel trailers across the country.

Hey, these are our public roads and highways and we need to spend public money to keep them maintained.

Remember those days?

They’re gone.

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/07/obama-mocks-congress-highway-spending-108491.html

President Obama wants to spend money to fix our roads, bridges and highways. They’ll create thousands of jobs. And, yes, they’ll make our roadways safer for Mom, Dad and the Kids.

To no one’s surprise these days, Congress is digging in on that one, too.

Obama spoke the other day at a bridge that needs repair. He’s asking Congress to reauthorize money for an infrastructure trust fund that’s about to run dry. Congress isn’t moving on it. Imagine that.

The House of Representatives, where these spending initiatives begin, is run by Republicans who are angry with the Democratic president because of his taunts over his executive action. “So sue me,” Obama said the other day when he mentioned employing the executive authority he possesses.

The notion of spending money to keep the country moving safely is supposed to be a bipartisan effort. Sadly, nothing of substance enjoys bipartisan support. Who’s to blame? Republicans blame Obama; the president blames them.

The system is broken, ladies and gentlemen. Meanwhile, our bridges and highways are crumbling beneath us.

Repair our infrastructure before someone gets hurt.

LaGuardia airport like ‘Third World country’?

Vice President Joe Biden is prone to overstatement at times, which I guess every American knows already.

How about when he recently compared New York’s LaGuardia Airport like a Third World country.

Mr. Vice President, I’ve flown in and out of LaGuardia. Yes, it’s crowded and old. Third World country-like, however, is a serious stretch.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/06/biden-laguardia-like-a-third-world-country/?hpt=hp_t2

If you’ve flown into Belize City, or Phnom Penh, or Hanoi or Delhi, well, those are Third World airports. Actually, Hanoi and Phnom Penh have undergone serious upgrades and reconstruction since the times I flew into those terminal.

Athens’s airport — the one in Greece, the Cradle of Western Civilization — once looked like it began operating during Greece’s Golden Age. It, too, has been replaced by a modern, gleaming terminal.

I guess the vice president’s larger point is that infrastructure needs serious help in the United States. We keep falling farther behind other countries in the quality of our transportation amenities, and that includes airports, highways, bridges and rail lines.

“Just in the last decade the United States has fallen 20 spots when it comes to the quality of infrastructure in America. It’s embarrassing and it’s stupid. It’s stupid. That puts us literally behind. They rank us behind Barbados. Great country, one airport,” he said.

“Look folks, not a joke, we need to reinvest and modernize our whole infrastructure, especially in rail,” Biden added.

The country needs investment in these things. Yes, “investment” means spending money. These projects create jobs and, yes, move people around more efficiently and safely.

I’ll excuse Joe Biden’s overstatement about LaGuardia. His larger point is worth heeding.