Trump and his republican wrecking crew in congress are pitching another half-baked $1.5 trillion-dollar proposal. This time it’s infrastructure. Although any plan to revitalize the country’s fifty-four thousand crumbling bridges, antiquated electrical grids, failing water systems, overtopping dams and aging public rail systems is certainly laudable. The republican solution is the same ploy they have been peddling for decades; starve government agencies to the point they become weak and ineffective and then replace them with private interests. Despite public-private partnerships being somewhat common in infrastructure projects, Trumps proposal relies on tax credits that privatize systems. Theoretically, the costs of these projects are therefore, shifted to the private sector rather than the taxpayers. However, for these sorts of projects to be worthwhile to any businesses they need to generate a return. That is, charging taxpayers tolls and usage fees. The obvious flaw in this thinking is that projects without a profitable revenue stream wouldn’t be funded. Therefore, poorer communities that need the new projects and repairs the most, would be least likely to get them.
Over the last thirty-five years’ the republican strategy has been largely comprised of massive tax cuts for the wealthy, unsustainable corporate welfare, untenable military spending and the wholesale transfer of the public commons to private industry. The result has been an unprecedented redistribution of wealth from the bottom up.
We can choose to live in a society that provides all its citizens with clean air and water, safe bridges, living wages, public education and affordable healthcare. Or we can continue to cling to the unrealistic notion that first-rate infrastructure, the most expensive healthcare and the world’s largest military can be supported with the lowest taxation rates in history, but we cannot have both.