AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
President Trump made rebuilding America’s infrastructure a central part of his campaign, promising to invest in “the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, tunnels, sea ports, and airports.” But that’s not the President’s plan.
Instead, what President Trump will outline is a blueprint for cronyism: An infrastructure proposal illegally developed in secret that is designed to further enrich people like President Trump, his business associates, and his friends.
The proposal, details of which have been slowly leaked to the press, follows months of closed-door meetings by President Trump’s “Infrastructure Council,” a group of well-connected individuals tasked by the President to design and direct federal infrastructure policy. Members of the Infrastructure Council are long-time friends and business associates of President Trump and his family, are unfettered by conflict-of-interest rules designed to prevent corruption, and stand to benefit from the President’s infrastructure policies.
We’ve already seen the consequences of President Trump’s decision to outsource infrastructure policy-making to his financially-conflicted friends. Over the past year, the Administration has quietly taken actions that benefit financiers and developers like those on President Trump’s Infrastructure Council. The Trump Administration rolled back federal flood regulations that a Council member’s development firm lobbied against; gutted pipeline safety rules that were cited as financial risks to a company owned by a Council member’s private equity firm; halted an industry-opposed federal initiative that promoted local hiring in infrastructure projects; and is rolling back protections for children exposed to lead in federally-subsidized apartment buildings, including ones owned by the Trump and Kushner families.
President Trump’s infrastructure plan is the capstone of these efforts. The plan appears to allow the Administration to award new infrastructure grants directly to private companies, empower companies to charge tolls and fees on America’s roads and bridges, cut career officials and agency experts out of project and permitting decisions, and eliminate regulatory and legal safeguards that protect against corruption.
As Congress and the public consider President Trump’s infrastructure proposal, they should consider the illegal way the proposal was crafted behind closed doors, the self-dealing infrastructure actions President Trump has already taken, and the ways in which the plan is ripe for abuse. Then they should ask a simple but critical question: Who would President Trump’s plan benefit, and who would it hurt?
As this report will detail, the answer to that question is clear: President Trump’s infrastructure strategy would leave American communities behind, as private special interests like his friends and business associates get rich.