When Is a Plan Not a Plan?

In August of 2007, a huge section of a bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis collapsed without warning, killing 13 people and injuring 145.

President Trump says he has a two hundred billion dollar plan to repair and rebuild this country’s infrastructure. At first blush, that sounds like welcome news, because just about everyone understands that our roads, bridges, tunnels and dams, plus the power grid and pipelines and sewer systems and God knows what else, all need fixing.
The problem with Trump’s plan—and it gives me no pleasure to say this—is that it’s mostly smoke and mirrors.
Two hundred billion is certainly an impressive number, but Trump would spend that amount over ten years. Twenty billion doesn’t sound nearly as impressive, does it?
Here’s another murky area: Trump says much of that money will be coming from the private sector, meaning from developers. But how much? And for what?
Next, Trump’s plan also includes money from the states sharing in the cost of projects within their borders. I wonder how much money Trump has pencilled in for Kansas, which is struggling with a huge deficit. Or from any of those states that will be hurt by the Republican tax plan.
But finally, when it comes to the federal government’s share, Trump proposes to come up with at least some of the money by cutting other federal programs!
Specifically, and what got my attention, of course, the first year’s funding would include $1.7 billion that had previously been committed to Amtrak. Put another way, Trump would fund almost 10% of the first year’s budget by putting Amtrak’s long-distance trains out of business.
Bottom line? Trump’s 200-billion-dollar infrastructure project sounds like a big deal. It’s not. In fact, like it’s sponsor, it’s pretty much a fraud. Most of the 200 billion dollars is actually Other People’s Money—money from the states, money taken from other government projects and commitments, and money from private developers which may never materialize.
In other words, it’s a con. Why am I not surprised?