Democrats have always been the party that’s not afraid of budget deficits. If money is needed for a pet project, they don’t let something inconsequential such as math stand in their way. Republicans have claimed (pretended?) to be the party that opposes budget deficits. With President Trump’s infrastructure plan rolling out early next year, the roles will likely be reversed.
The 70-page plan is expected to lay out a public-private maneuver to generate the $1 trillion cost tag experts have slapped on the project. Early indications showed the President expected the national government to fund $200 billion of it with the rest coming from states, local areas, and private investments. That plan was tabled with the new plan expected to go to Congress in January.
One of the routes Democrats may take in opposing the plan is invoking the budget deficit. They will tie it into the recently signed tax law by claiming the GOP is trying to spend more while generating less revenue. It’s a narrative that may work in an election year as vulnerable Republicans won’t want to be caught on the wrong side of fiscal responsibility.
“As we saw from this tax reform effort, now that the Democrats are opposing the Republicans in a lot of these policy battles, they now all of a sudden care about the deficit as well,” said Michael Sargent, transportation and infrastructure policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “They might voice that as a concern or use that as leverage to perhaps get things they want.”
Many Democrats, particularly Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have supported fixing the infrastructure. Blaming their change of heart on a budget deficit created by the GOP tax plan gives them a credible way of attempting to block the legislation.
The political maneuvering surrounding this bill works in both directions. As the Republicans prepare to fight to increase budgets and bureaucracy, they’ll use opposition to the bill in areas with deep infrastructure needs to paint their Democratic opponents as playing partisan games that hurt the people.
Positions have been changing rapidly between the parties in recent months. Many Democrats are now promoting federalism while many Republicans are pushing fair trade and increased spending. Whatever the final infrastructure plan says, it’s certain to spark controversy during the most important midterm election since the Clinton years.
In December, President Trump met with senior administration officials and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., to discuss the proposal.
“The meeting with the president was encouraging and very productive,” Shuster said in a statement. “He’s a builder — he gets the importance of infrastructure and why it matters for jobs and the economy. Addressing our nation’s infrastructure in a bipartisan manner is going to take strong presidential leadership, and I believe we have a president who can provide the necessary leadership and who wants to rebuild our infrastructure to strengthen our economy.”