|Old Post Office Building under renovation for the Trump International|
It is time for the weekly edition of Blogger Candidate Forum. Today we are going to step away from the subject of sanctuary cities, for now, Blogger promises, and on to the subject of infrastructure. Specifically, we are going to look at what will President Donald Trump's $1 trillion build out look like? This is the question that Laura Bliss ponders in her CityLab article "What Does Trump Mean When he Says 'Infrastructure?'" It is an issue that has been moved to the back burner, for now but no less important. Another question that needs to be asked is whether or not Congress will make it happen? Ms. Bliss writes, "Key among the questions waiting to be answered is a very basic one: What is Trump talking about when he talks about 'infrastructure'? Is it the state highways and municipal water pipes you're imagining? Or could it also be the kind that's attached to the the kind of projects a golf course developer/casino magnate would best: real estate?" All could questions that hopefully will be answered in the next 3 years and 10 months.
|Segment of I-97 between Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland|
We're talking about a very large-scale infrastructure bill...[a]and we're going to make sure it is spent on infrastructure and roads and highways." (http://www.nytimes.com; date accessed Mar. 15, 2017)
President Trump's economic advisors released a proposal (http://www.peternavarro.com; date accessed Mar. 15, 2017) to privatize infrastructure projects The proposals describes infrastructure as the
...complex network of airports, bridges, highways, ports, tunnels, and waterways that underpins private sector growth.
|Los Angeles International Airport Theme Building, 1961|
Los Angeles, California
|Flint, Michigan water pipes|
What type of projects would get built under the proposed privatization scheme? Most likely the ones that would not necessarily serve the public interest. For example, badly needed water pipe reconstruction in Flint, Michigan is not as attractive as-maybe, a toll road in heavily travel area-to investors. However, it would be still hard to conceive of enough glamorous highway projects that would add up to $1 billion in infrastructure investment-"or enough tax revenue from profits for the feds to break even."
|Rendering of an industrial park in Port of Vancouver, Washington|
Be that as it may, it is possible that POTUS may not be referring to "rebuilding infrastructure" in the typical way, rather, in new property development. That would make sense given his background in real estate development. Ms. Bliss speculates, "Could an industrial park primed to have a major, even transformative, economic impact on a region be considered infrastructure?" Further, POTUS has also found success developing apartments thus, could housing be thought of as infrastructure? What about all the sewer and utilities needed to support new residential projects? Consider the construction booms in in Hunters Point, San Francisco and Roosevelt Island, New York City. The point is that developers frequently pay out of pocket via impact fees for utilities (i.e. water and power) and roads that come with these types of lucrative developments. Laura Bliss speculates, "But perhaps under a Trumpian infrastructure scheme they'd be eligible for a whopping 82 percent tax credit."
|Construction on Roosevelt Island, New York|
[I]magine a private consortium building a toll road for $1 billion. Under the Trump plan, the consortium might borrow $800 million while putting up $200 million i equity-buit it would a tax credit of 82 percent of that sum, so that its outlays would only be $36 million. And any future revenue from tolls would go to the people who put up that $36 million. ((http://www.nytimes.com; date accessed Mar. 15, 2017)
Clear as mud, right?
To put it another way, if we apply this method to a profitable business park. The taxpayers foot the bill for a development that private development companies would have built without any incentive. The companies that build and manage the center receive large checks-the very definition of corporate welfare. This would result in grand scale corruption.
Members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, said they would work with President Donald Trump on his infrastructure bill. Before they jump on board, they should first pin down a specific definition of infrastructure, "because there is no legal definition." How President Trump defines infrastructure may not be the way you or Blogger define infrastructure.