President-Elect Trump’s plans for infrastructure spending drew both support and concern when announced around the same time he named Elaine Chao as Secretary of Transportation.
Chao is a former Secretary of Labor and is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. She also served earlier in the Department of Transportation and the Federal Maritime Commission
Although short on details, Trump’s infrastructure plan would spend $1 trillion on highway and other improvements. The catch – as usual – is finding a way to pay for it all.
Right now Trump appears to favor deploying $137 billion in tax credits and other kinds of incentives to encourage greater private sector involvement in these projects.
He also promised to reduce red tape and reduce environmental hurdles that delay some projects for years and that have killed others.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials used the reports of Trump’s intentions as an opportunity to call for a permanent fix to put the highway trust fund on solid financial footing.
“Republicans in Congress should heed the call of their party’s leader and make urgently-needed improvements of national infrastructure networks a top priority in early 2017,” said Peter Ruane, president of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.
Not everyone agrees. Writing for the National Review, the Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner asserts that while legitimate infrastructure needs must be met, “there is a danger that the credits will end up as a crony-capitalist reward for Trump’s friends or others with clout in Washington.”