Public Works, Private Benefit

In Economy, New York Times Editorial On

President Trump’s infrastructure plan is turning out to be a mirage. He had talked about a $1 trillion, 10-year effort. But the White House now proposes allocating only $200 billion, which would come from cutting aid to states and localities and giving it to Wall Street investors as tax credits, which it hopes will attract $800 billion in investment for big projects that would turn a profit through tolls and user fees. As an opening act, for example, Mr. Trump is pushing privatization of the nation’s air traffic control system, which could jack up the price of air travel for passengers.

But most of the nation’s unmet infrastructure needs involve smaller projects to operate, maintain and upgrade — not only highways, but also water, sewer and other systems that are of no interest to private investors. In Ohio, where Mr. Trump went on Wednesday to deliver a campaign-style speech about his plan, more than 1,500 highway projects to be completed over four years have an average cost of only $9.2 million, according to research by the Center for American Progress. That’s far too little to attract huge investment funds that are the presumed recipients of the tax credits.

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