The Associated Press reports that it may be one more campaign promise that goes down with the reality of Republican control of Congress:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to tamp down expectations last week, telling reporters he wants to avoid “a $1 trillion stimulus.” And Reince Priebus, who will be Trump’s chief of staff, said in a radio interview that the new administration will focus in its first nine months with other issues like health care and rewriting tax laws. He sidestepped questions about the infrastructure plan.
In a post-election interview with The New York Times, Trump himself seemed to back away, saying infrastructure won’t be a “core” part of the first few years of his administration. But he said there will still be “a very large-scale infrastructure bill.”
He acknowledged that he didn’t realize during the campaign that New Deal-style proposals to put people to work building infrastructure might conflict with his party’s small-government philosophy.
“That’s not a very Republican thing – I didn’t even know that, frankly,” he said.
It shouldn’t be a shock, given Republican resistance to Obama’s infrastructure proposals. But at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if Republicans in Congress cave to Trump on this one eventually, particularly if the economy goes south. They’ll need the economic boost heading into the 2018 midterms, and Republican fealty to fiscal conservatism tends to go out the window once a member of their own party is in the White House (see Bush, George W.).
Still, it’s too bad if the program doesn’t happen, as low interest rates and a huge backlog of transportation needs across the country would make this a prime time to spend money on rebuilding and repairing our infrastructure.