Sunday, January 22, 2017

Transportation Secretary Designee Chao Fails To Clarify Trump Infrastructure Plans

Senators, Representatives and construction industry trade association officials all hoped to hear details of the $1 trillion ten year infrastructure investment plan promised by President Trump during the campaign, but in spite of her nearly certain confirmation, Elaine Chao’s testimony at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee was singularly unenlightening, devoid of details, and embarrassingly disappointing. Combined with President Trump’s statements in interviews after the election that putting people to work building infrastructure is “not a very Republican thing. I didn’t even know that, frankly,” and that infrastructure won’t be a core part of the first few years of his administration, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s statement to reporters that he wants to avoid a $1 trillion stimulus, Chao’s testimony puzzled Association of General Contractors spokesman Brian Turmail: “Are we hearing signs that people just don’t know what the plan is, or signs that people don’t want any kind of plan? We don’t know the answer.”

While acknowledging in her remarks that Highway Trust Fund revenues fall $10 billion short of spending every year, and that attracting the promised private investment in infrastructure projects is a “major challenge,” Chao offered no specific proposals for solving either difficulty. All she would say is that “the pay-fors for any infrastructure proposals are all challenging and all have their particular champions and also detractors.” Guess everybody except President Trump knew that already.

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