President Trump’s Infrastructure Game

Spirited Reasoners will recall that during the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Trump promised a $500 billion infrastructure package “to ensure we can export our goods and move our people faster and safer.” But even though President Trump’s Republican Party controlled both houses of Congress during the first two years of his presidency, he chose to spend all that political capital on the building of a border wall.

Now that the Democratic Party controls the House of Representative, President Trump has finally decided to do something about infrastructure, probably because he wants to prevent the Democrats from using infrastructure as their own campaign issue.

Spirited Reasoners smell a rat.

Here’s the game: Knowing that Congressional representatives of both parties will want to “bring home the bacon” to their constituencies during election season, pork barrel legislation is always popular. For example, Chuck Schumer undoubtedly wants to say that he played a role in spearheading long overdue infrastructure improvements in the state of New York. Nancy Pelosi wants to do the same thing in her San Francisco-based congressional district.

And of course, President Trump will claim credit for the whole thing.

So, where’s the rat?

By delaying this part of his agenda until the 2020 election season, President Trump is now able to mention the names of specific bridges, highways, airports, and modern train facilities to voters in each city he visits during the campaign. Never mind that if he had made good on those promises back in 2017, when he came to office, the improvements would already be underway in many places. Instead, we talked about border walls.

President Trump is betting that Americans will forget that he has ignored infrastructure for three long years, especially when they start to salivate about whatever expensive new project happens to be needed in their own district.

I know, I know. Almost everyone agrees that we need the infrastructure improvements.

But wouldn’t it be nice if those projects were already underway?