What the ‘$1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Plan’ Really Pays For

By on February 12, 2018

From CityLab:  It’s been more than a year since Donald Trump’s presidential campaign started talking about a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. On Monday, the White House released an actual 55-page legislative outline.

In the intervening 16 months, the details have shifted, several unofficial Infrastructure Weeks have come and gone, and the total investment that’s being articulated has ballooned to $1.5 trillion. But the underlying philosophy hasn’t budged: This not a spending plan, but a financing idea. Trump’s bill does not include new money for funding infrastructure.

In fact, taken alongside the White House’s budget request for 2019, also released on Monday, infrastructure spending is actually in for a net reduction. The Center for American Progress said in a press call on Monday that the organization counted $281 billion in cuts to infrastructure programs in the proposed budget.

The crux of the infrastructure bill, based on a document uploaded to Scribd by a Business Insider reporter, is to dole out $100 billion in federal infrastructure grants to cities, counties, and state governments. The emphasis is not on the type of project, but on shifting the funding burden to those states and localities: To qualify for a grant, applicants would need to pay for at least 80 percent of the costs of a project, be it a toll road, transit system, telecom network, or water pipeline. A primary goal of this “Infrastructure Incentives Program” is “attracting significant new, non-Federal revenue streams dedicated to infrastructure investments,” according to the bill.

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