With Trumpcare Dead An Infrastructure Bill Could Favor Inner Cities

If the president is sincere about aiding ailing cities, now is the time to prove it.
03/28/2017 11:25 am ET Updated Mar 29, 2017
Trump Infrastructure Spending Can Revive Urban Communities According To The Congressional Black Caucus

The unpleasant aftereffects of the Trumpcare implosion last week left the president and the Republican party roiling and wounded. So the GOP needs to quickly pivot toward a policy victory to prove that it is more substance than shadow.

Apparently, the machinations to “repeal and replace” Obamacare proved ineffectual ― revealing the current schizophrenic mindset of the Republican Party. Various factional infighting over healthcare reform — most notably incited by the House Freedom Caucus — exposes a demonstrably disgruntled and disunited party despite their command of Congress and the Oval office.

What was clearly supposed to be a Trump legislative honeymoon during his first 100 days in office may soon dissipate into an antagonistic annulment. Furthermore, Trump is becoming known as a president of fits and provocations, prevarications and an incessant wont to instigate unwanted political scuffles.

Surely, the Trumpcare collapes is his policy Ides of March ― which was self-inflicted and the result of his astonishing political naiveté and incessant hyperbolic self-branding.

So, what’s a president to do?

After the Trumpcare debacle, the president has suggested tracking directly toward tax reform as a way to resuscitate his depleting political energies.

That might work. And then maybe it might not.

Clearly, what Trump needs is to revive and expand his base of support by loosening his unyielding ideological posture. He needs to reset his presidential priorities by eschewing the hard-line policies that barely lifted him into office last November. In short, he needs to restructure his agenda to make it more amenable to moderate wings of the republican and democratic party.

He needs a second chance at adjusting to the political gravity that defines beltway politics.

“We’re going to roll our sleeves up and we’re going to cut taxes across the board for working families, small businesses and family farms,” Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday to a group of businessmen over the weekend.

Exactly. Trump would do well to grow his presidency out from its narrow ideological corridors. Tax cuts to the middle class may work; deep cuts for the wealthy would be a mistake.

A more important path to policy success for Trump, however, should be comprehensive infrastructure investment spending ― a commitment to the long-term repair and creation of roads, bridges, state and government public buildings and properties, including the national rail system and its parks.

This is not a new Trumpian vision.

The president championed infrastructure investments as he campaigned for president last year. His pledge to make America great again was anchored firmly in rhetoric to produce jobs and stimulate a latent economy by infusing infrastructure money throughout the states, especially in the depressed regions of Appalachia and the rustbelt.

Should Trump pursue this path, he must go big ― choosing a massive infrastructure spending budget that commits to ensuring that poor and working class communities benefit from the jobs created as well physically redeveloping blighted neighborhoods.

This is the point made by members of the Congressional Black Caucus when they met with Trump earlier this month at the White House. They pressed the president to focus on cities as sites of dramatic investments of capital.

An infrastructure bill directed on reconstructing the inner cities makes sobering sense. Public housing, roads and sidewalks, schools, parks and playgrounds, sanitation and clean water delivery systems can use a major overhaul in black and Latino neigborhoods across the country. Hiring blacks, Latinos and unemployed youth to participate in this transformation should be prioritized.

So should infrastructure investments in internet and broadband access in inner city neighborhoods, giving millions of the poor access to the web for learning and online job training.

This is an artful deal Trump can close with Democrats if he extended it, because Democrats see urban development as a priority.

The infrastructure spending will stimulate the economy for Trump’s class of job creators while also reducing unemployment among the poor. Both will serve to grow the federal tax revenue.

These days, Trump needs to win bigly. He would be wise to pitch his administration’s anemic fortunes toward sensible and inclusive solutions.

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