When President Trump won the election, many considered the infrastructure an opportunity for a two-party victory. (Jim Watson / AFP)
President Trump traveled to Ohio for a rally Thursday in hopes of reviving interest in his plan to renew the roads, bridges, railways, and ports of America.
The president wants $ 1.5 trillion in new infrastructure spending, but Congress has so far allocated $ 21 billion – just over 1 percent of the presidential target.
Amongst the President's Key Economic Plans – Tax Reductions, Deregulation, Infrastructure and Renegotiated Trade Agreements – Trump Is Infrastructure
While Trump has praised "the largest and most daring infrastructure investment in American history," congressional leaders have more modest goals. They plan to postpone a few small bills before the midterm elections, although the bills they seek to re-authorize, above all, the funding of existing initiatives and programs, not the massive new investment that Trump is asking.
When Trump won the election many, and many saw in the infrastructure the chance for a victory over both parties. Both Democrats and Republicans have discussed the topic and it has a lot of public support. But the infrastructure has repeatedly slipped down the priority list. The White House has not put much pressure on infrastructure, and Congress is stuck: they can not agree on a source of funding, and they can not bear to contribute more to the government deficit.
On Thursday, Trump spent a lot of his speech to striking workers who talked about other topics: trade, immigration, tax cuts, the media and the revival of the television show "Roseanne". Senior administration officials insist that there is a lot of pressure on legislators over infrastructure, even beyond Trump's trip to Richfield, Ohio. Larry Kudlow, the new head of the National Economic Council, is expected to play a role in selling the plan to Congress.
But experienced lobbyists – left and right – say the White House's repeated statements that this is "Infrastructure Week." "Have become a joke." The weeks they choose are almost always derailed by controversy over unrelated topics Last week, while Congress is on break, Trump is confronted with high-profile allegations of marital infidelity, the Russia investigation continues to headline and the administration wrestles with staff turnover and litigious layoffs  and some Republicans in Congress calls for a vote on a balanced budget amendment, a reminder that many in the GOP no longer want to spend money after tax cuts and spending increases have already contributed at least $ 1.3 trillion to public debt.
"I think so Part of the attack is pure politics. Congress may not want to do anything before the autumn elections, "said Richard Geddes, visiting scientist at the American Enterprise Institute and director of the Cornell infrastructure policy program.
Trump accused the Democrats of upholding the infrastructure laws of the Ohio crowd," we have a very important choice ahead of us, and they like the victories we have received. "
The infrastructure is stalled in Congress because of funding, but lobbyists say that some of the culprits also fall over the White House who lacks a clear message on what Trump wants.
The president's plan calls for $ 200 billion in new federal spending, with the remainder of the money coming from the private sector and state and local governments at $ 1.5 trillion Trump's top consultants are pushing for public-private partnerships, but Trump himself has expressed skepticism as to whether these f become inactive.
"It's not a priority for Hill, and the White House does not have the apparatus or ability to drive a consistent message about it," said a GOP lobbyist who talked about the condition of anonymity to openly about to speak the situation.
Trump propagated the increase in gas tax to finance his plan. The US Chamber of Commerce, an economic lobby, is pushing for a 25 percent increase in gas tax, which has not been increased since 1993. The move would bring $ 394 billion in new revenue, but the conservative cooking network and many GOP leaders in Congress are against any tax hike.
House spokesman Paul D. Ryan (R-WIS) thinks that the best solution for the moment is to "break it to pieces" instead of making a huge bill, as the Congress has done on taxes
Republican officials say the most likely bill in the coming months will be the reauthorization and funding of the Federal Aviation Administration for Air Travel and the Water Resources Development Act on Water Infrastructure. But trumping Trump's approval for this has been a long-running program, renewed every few years in Congress.
"We need a big visionary law, and we need to find a way to pay for it," said Marcia Hale, president of Building America's Future, a bipartisan coalition pushing for infrastructure funding. "The reason we break everything is that we do not have the energy to create a big, replenishing, revitalizing infrastructure plan for America."
The only money Trump could secure for infrastructure came from the budget threatened the president last week with a veto, partly because he had no money for a rail project in New York and New Jersey, known as the Gateway Tunnel, wanted.
The bill included $ 21.2 billion funding for new infrastructure projects, which the White House calls a "down payment" on the president's goals. But some of the programs that received additional funds in the budget, such as Amtrak and Transportation Generating Economic Recovery (TERRE), were earmarked for cuts or deletions in Trump's budget proposal.
The White House insists that it can re-trace infrastructure, although high-ranking government officials also dampen expectations of how quickly Trump can get what he wants.
"We hope to finish much of the plan this year, but whatever we will not be able to do this year, we'll be back next year," officials told reporters Wednesday before Trump's trip Ohio.
Kudlow is probably the key to selling to the public, and the Congress over Trump's plans replaced Gary Cohn, who had met regularly in Congress with Republicans and Democrats over infrastructure. Kudlow is a TV personality and former Reagan administration official known as a champion of tax cuts and free trade.
But Kudlow told a conservative radio station in February that he found Trump's infrastructure plan "very good" and particularly relied on him for private funding rather than government dollars. He also cracked the idea of increasing gas taxation, a possible break with Trump.
"I very much doubt that there will be a federal gas tax … I do not think that will ever happen," Kudlow said.
While there is consensus in Washington that America's infrastructure needs revaluation, Republicans and Democrats remain concerned about how they should be paid for it and how much money the federal government should spend. The Democrats have recently released their plan, which provided for US $ 1 trillion in government funding, largely repaid through tax breaks, which is not an incentive for the GOP.
"Democrats must now maintain their commitment to achieving these [infrastructure] goals – it is time for the American people to work together on two parties," said Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo), chairman of the Committee on the Environment and public works.
Trump always makes it clear how good infrastructure investments would be in the economy. His council of economic advisors predicts that the $ 1.5 trillion plan would boost growth by 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points per year and create more than 290,000 more jobs. But critics say what the president really proposes is $ 200 billion in funding, and it's debatable how much additional money would really come from the cash-strapped local governments.
Economists on the Penn Wharton budget model predict that Trump's $ 230 plan would lead to billions of new investments, which would mean it would have little impact on the economy or jobs.
"Two hundred billion will not do the job, and the Trump administration recognizes that it is necessary to have much more money to have a credible program, which is a starting point for negotiating with Congress," he said Martin Klepper, an Obama-appointed chairman, served most of last year as managing director of the Build America Bureau of the Transportation Department. "The $ 1.5 trillion are completely false news."