One of the few glimmers of bipartisanship in the wake of the election of President Trump was on the question of infrastructure, with Democrats expressing a willingness to work with him on working to fix the nation’s roads and bridges. But it seems Democrats aren’t so enthusiastic anymore.
Trump has eyed $1 trillion of investment in infrastructure, spurred in part by $200 billion of tax breaks. as part of his plan to restore American jobs — specifically in blue-collar hubs such as Pennsylvania and Michigan. Since a similar goal was repeated throughout the Obama administration by Democrats, it seemed there would be an area of consensus — with Democratic leaders making warm statements.
The White House has designated this week as “Infrastructure Week.” However, Trump’s first proposal — to privatize air traffic control, has quickly been tossed to one side by Democrats in the House and Senate.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called it a “tired Republican plan.” While still paying homage to the idea of an infrastructure plan, Pelosi seemed in no mood to compromise with any idea outside the Democratic playbook.
“Bold, job-creating investments in our crumbling infrastructure system can and should be a bipartisan priority,” she said in a statement. “However, Trump’s ‘infrastructure week’ appears to be little more than a Trojan Horse for undermining workers’ wages and handing massive tax breaks to billionaires and corporations.”
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who has been one of the more vocal proponents of a bipartisan infrastructure legislation, similarly threw cold water on any compromise, particularly anything that involves privatization.
.@POTUS' infrastructure ‘proposal’ focuses on privatization, which really means less construction & fewer jobs, particularly in rural areas.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 5, 2017
“A private-sector-driven infrastructure plan means tolls, tolls, tolls — paid by average, working Americans,” said Schumer, according to The Associated Press. “It also means that infrastructure that can’t be built with tolls, like repairing our crumbling schools, for instance, will likely get left behind.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded to Democratic criticisms Tuesday, saying that Trump’s approach is “that of a businessman” and that his approach includes “engaging the private sector in this.”
The Democrats have in turn released their own budget plan, a more government-based plan that, without significant compromise, would seem futile considering the Republicans hold the House, Senate, and the White House. That plan would spend $1 trillion of taxpayer money — similar to plans which failed to pass through Congress in the Obama years.
The Hill reported that Democrats are betting a strategy of distancing themselves from Trump would pay off in midterm races, capitalizing on a perceived backlash against the President. If accurate, White House hopes of a bipartisan compromise of infrastructure may be futile.
“The reality is, it’s hard to convince anybody to do anything when you have a 36 percent job approval rating, because no one fears you,” Democratic strategist Brad Bannon told The Hill.
The Democrats have already shown little-to-no interest in either tax reform or health care reform — two key issues of Trump’s presidential campaign.
Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY