Trump infrastructure plan is woefully inadequate
June 12, 2017
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  • I was fascinated by Peter Morici’s column in which he advises the Republican Party how to become effective despite the machinations of President Donald Trump (“How Republicans can survive Trump,” June 10). Perhaps a more useful subject would have been how America can survive Trump. Some of Professor Morici’s statements deserve comment.

    First I was amazed to read that the professor is effectively endorsing Andrew Cuomo for president. That is truly a surprise. The accusation that Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi are behaving irresponsibly by denying President Trump’s legitimacy is unfair. Hardly anyone is denying that President Trump won the Presidency fair and square (unless a Russian collusion can be proven, of course). The criticism, rather, has been leveled at the reckless behavior of the president after his inauguration. The accusation of denying a President’s legitimacy can more correctly be leveled at the Republicans in the Congress who persisted in their position that President Barack Obama was not native born and then refused to confirm his appointees.

    I was perplexed to read the statement in the column that despite missteps by the White house in other areas, expertise is being displayed in the area of infrastructure. As an expert in transportation, I have been astounded at the naivete and lack of vision in the infrastructure plan presented so far by the Trump administration.

    Updating the air traffic control system through privatization has been considered by Congress for many years and repeatedly defeated because it would unduly favor the larger hub airports and major airlines to the detriment of smaller carriers and airports and our more rural communities. It is unlikely to fare any better this time around.

    Solving the critical need to upgrade our roads and bridges in large part through private investments as proposed in the Trump infrastructure plan does not begin to address the problem. Private investments can play a role in the solution, and they have done so for decades, but that role is severely limited. Toll roads and bridges will attract private investors, but they work only with heavy traffic flows where toll revenues are substantial. America’s heavy travel corridors are already served by toll roads and toll bridges or by free Interstate highways. The greater need for investments is in maintenance and repair and additional roads and bridges in less dense areas. Private investments and toll revenues are not feasible in those instances. One possible way of raising finances for infrastructure is for a Congress to permit tolls on existing free Interstate highways, but I have yet to meet a politician with the courage to support that possibility.

    The only reasonable way to bring our deficient highway system into the 21st Century is to increase the gas tax, which is essentially a user fee, or to levy some other form of user fee for the use of our roads and bridges. Most transportation experts support that solution. That was how improvements were financed for generations in a bipartisan and non-controversial manner. But I fear the insane antipathy of the Republican leadership to any form of tax increase makes that eminently reasonable solution out of the question. I do not expect the Trump infrastructure plan to bring any solution to our infrastructure problems.