“The conservatives are going to go crazy,”
Although, as a conservative, I find the description of the 1930s as an “exciting time” to be a bit odd, this should be somewhat reassuring to those liberals who see Trump as a stark repudiation of
For years, MSNBC ran ads calling for more New Deal-style spending on big projects. Host
She then replied to these unnamed naysayers: "You're wrong, and it doesn't feel right to us, and it doesn't sound right to us because that's not what America is."
Put aside the offensive notion that American greatness hinges on the size of taxpayer-funded public works projects — a notion more closely associated in my mind with Stalin or the Ceausescus. If you do believe this piffle, than you should be reassured that President-elect Trump shares your vision of how to Make America Great Again.
Charles E. Schumer, the incoming leader of the Senate Democrats, also wants to Make America Great Again by pouring money into infrastructure. The main difference between the New York senator and the New York businessman is apparently that Trump's plan concentrates mostly on tax breaks for private-sector contractors. The possible downside is that the Trump administration would be handing out subsidies for projects that would have been built anyway, in affluent communities that didn't need the help.
Schumer, meanwhile, wants the government to spend cold hard cash. "It has to have real expenditures. You can't do it with just … tax credits," he told Roll Call.
Most conservatives are not in fact opposed to infrastructure spending. What rankles them are inefficient, wholly political expenditures designed to reward political constituencies — like so much of Obama's 2009 stimulus.
Ridiculous and wasteful spending is one of the few things that enrages nearly all conservatives — but apparently not populists and nationalists of Bannon's stripe. Indeed, his blasé desire to shovel taxpayer dollars into shipyard construction with no greater metric than "throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks," should drive pretty much everyone nuts. Wise and careful use of public monies spent on needed projects shouldn't bother anyone.
For instance, it took 410 days to build the
That sort of success is still possible — if you cut out the political middlemen. In 1994, California Gov. Pete Wilson responded to the Northridge earthquake by invoking emergency powers that allowed him to go around the red tape and union-padding that usually goes with big infrastructure projects. The 10 freeway between downtown L.A. and Santa Monica was so damaged, experts thought it would take two years to repair. By offering contractors huge cash bonuses based on how quickly the work was done, the work was completed in barely more than two months. The winning bidder, C.C. Myers, Inc., made more off the bonuses than it did off the bid.
If the Republican Congress combined with the Trump administration could give the public some confidence that their money wouldn't be wasted or sluiced through self-dealing bureaucrats and unions — in other words, if the plan is based on something beyond throw it up and see if it sticks — conservatives won't go crazy. Like liberals and everyone else, they might just go along with an infrastructure surge.