President Donald Trump has promised Americans that the country's infrastructure will become the latest and greatest under his leadership, and Monday the White House revealed a plan detailing how Trump intends to fulfill that promise.
It turns out that privatization is Trump's greatest priority when it comes to rebuilding America - not so much the degree to which any given project will benefit the community.
Unveiled on Monday, the infrastructure program that Mr. Trump has championed since the campaign is intended to attract a huge amount of additional money from states, localities and private investors. The goal is to generate a total pot of $1.5 trillion to upgrade the country’s highways, airports and railroads.
Those financial priorities are crystallized in the new guidelines established by the White House. The ability to find sources of funding outside the federal government will be the most important yardstick, accounting for 70 percent of the formula for choosing infrastructure projects. How “the project will spur economic and social returns on investment” ranks at the bottom, at just 5 percent.
Projects that benefit the public but might not attract sufficient investors could be less likely to get the green light when more lucrative investments are on the table.
“Instead of the public sector deciding on public needs and public priorities, the projects that are most attractive to private investors are the ones that will go to the head of the line,” said Elliott Sclar, professor of urban planning and international affairs at Columbia University. “Private investors will become the tail that will wag the dog, because they’ll want projects that will give returns.”