Democrats Shake Down Trump For $2 Trillion To Build Bridges & Keep Airplanes From Crashing
Donald Trump has promised for the past two years to deliver a grand infrastructure deal. He's failed so often it's become a punchline, but the president is undaunted. He claims that he was "always very good at building." In reality, Trump has only managed to construct gaudy monuments to his ego that are also potential and actual death traps. However, this latest infrastructure week might be different. Trump met Tuesday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. After 90 minutes, only some of which was spent discussing the most recent "Game of Thrones," they settled on a "big and bold" $2 trillion infrastructure plan. We might really get some roads paved, tunnels dug, and junkies removed from airport bathrooms with that kind of scratch.
Their agreement is in "principle," which is a stumbling block when the president personally has no principles. They've also postponed for three weeks deciding how to pay for it. That's usually when everything falls apart and "anarchy is loosed upon the world."
Schumer has proposed rolling back parts of Trump's forged signature tax scam bill. Every bridge in the country could crumble before that ever happened.
"By reversing only the most egregious giveaways in President Trump's tax bill—those given to the wealthiest of the wealthiest—and raising the corporate tax rate a smidge," Schumer said, "we could finance the entirety of a trillion dollar infrastructure bill."
A smidge? Why is Schumer cosplaying Fred Rogers? Raising the gas tax is a non-starter. Although, this option is curiously favored by both Republicans who hate the poor and Democrats who hate cars.
Senate Republicans have expressed sticker shock over the $2 trillion price tag. That's a lot of money apparently when you're not just giving it away to rich people. Number 2 GOP leader John Thune told reporters Wednesday: "You want stuff? You gotta pay for it. I think that's a conservative position." (It certainly is not.)
Conservatives fear that their one-time Democrat, long-time racist leader is falling into a liberal trap. The National Review dismissed any big infrastructure deal as just a "bipartisan mess." There's no need for sweeping efforts to repair crumbling bridges and highways. We should only open our checkbooks on a "case-by-case" basis.
"That is why we have this splendidly specialized array of committees and subcommittees and bureaucracies and congressional procedure. And that, not a once-in-a-generation all-in multitrillion-dollar 'fix,' is how responsible adults deal with roads and bridges and the like."
But ... conservatives hate needlessly complex, government bureaucracies. They claim that's why nothing ever gets done. For God's sake, "modernizing our air travel system" is on the infrastructure priority list, and we don't know about you but we like our air travel fully modernized, maybe a little post-modern. We don't have time for "committees and subcommittees."
Meanwhile, perpetual motion hate machine Laura Ingraham accused Democrats of sneakily trying to tank Trump's "red-hot" economy. She also finds it suspect that we aren't limiting ourselves to a 19th Century definition of "infrastructure."
INGRAHAM: Democrats also want to expand the definition of what infrastructure is, beyond, in other words, fixing bridges, roads and airports to include things like enhancing broadband, water systems, schools and housing. Why not? Why stop there?
Indeed: Why stop there? Improved Internets and poo-free water all seem like reasonable, non-crazy commie goals.
INGRAHAM: And predictably, Democrats want the cost to be borne by people -- meaning you -- by doing what? Raising taxes, of course.
How else would we pay for critical improvements to our own country? Stand outside Canada with a tin cup? Ingraham does concede that you could "probably make an argument" for infrastructure spending as long as it "pays for itself." We'd like to remind Ingraham and the handful of confused conservatives reading at home that the GOP tax cut bill has not and will never pay for itself.
White House acting chief of staff and overall wet blanket Mick Mulvaney basically considers the whole effort a waste of time.
MULVANEY: I explain infrastructure as a pipe, and you put money in one end of the pipe and then asphalt and bridges come out the other end of the pipe," he said. "Right now that pipe is 10 years long."
Huh? Is Mulvaney having a "series of tubes" moment? Wait, he's not done yet.
MULVANEY: And I've told the president several times, "Mr. President it doesn't make a difference how much money you put in this end of the pipe … you won't see a single lane of traffic, or road paved before end of your second term."
Womp. Womp. No wonder Mulvaney is still understudying the chief of staff position. But Republicans aren't the only obstacle. Some Democrats think we should hold off on productive legislation until we have a non-repulsive president. Why help Trump take attention away from his crooked attorney general's testimony about his crooked behavior? Why give him anything remotely positive to campaign on next year? We like what a senior House Democratic aide had to say on the matter.
"You know what, who gives a fuck?" the aide said. "Who. Gives. A. Fuck?... We ran on the issue of infrastructure. So I don't know why it would be a surprise to anyone that if we can get a bill done we'd be advocating for that. We are not Republicans. We don't put politics ahead of getting something done for our constituents. That's not what we do."
This aide might've parachuted in from an uncensored West Wing episode, but we fully agree with his position. Let's build some roads and modernize some airports, damnit!
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.