President Donald Trump said that he is still committed to rebuilding the roads and bridges of America.
Despite reports that Trump is planning to push back infrastructure investment to 2018, the president took time during his speech to governors on Monday to promise a large push for repairing roads and bridges.
Trump said he will “have a big statement on infrastructure” during his speech to Congress on Tuesday night and pointed out deficiencies in America’s investments.
“We spend $US6 trillion in the Middle East and we have potholes all over our highways and our roads,” said Trump.
Trump promised during the campaign to invest $US1 trillion in infrastructure, but shaved that down to $US550 billion during the transition. A recent document of infrastructure priorities that was leaked included roughly $US137 billion in projects that could be considered in future spending bills.
The president then regaled the assembled governors with a story of his “friend who is in the trucking business” who has been having trouble with his equipment.
“He said ‘My trucks are destroyed, they’re destroyed, going from New York to Los Angeles, they’re destroyed,'” said Trump. “He said ‘I’m not going to get the good trucks anymore.’ He always prided himself on buying the best equipment.”
Trump then used New York City’s Lincoln Tunnel, which connects the city to New Jersey, as an example of a place where he claimed infrastructure spending was needed. From the meeting:
“We have tunnels in New York where the tiles are on the ceiling and you see many tiles missing. And you wonder, you know you’re driving 40 miles an hour, 50 miles an hour through a tunnel. You know, you take a look at the Lincoln Tunnel and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel and you see all this loose material that’s heavy — you know it was made many years ago, so it’s heavy. Today it’s light, used to be better, the problem is you got to hold it up. And I say to myself, every time I drive through, ‘I wonder how many people are hurt or injured when they’re driving at 40, 50 miles an hour through a tunnel and a tile falls off.’ And there are so many missing tiles and such a loose concrete. So we have to fix our infrastructure. It’s not like we have a choice, we have no choice and we’re going to do it and it also happens to mean jobs, which is a good thing.”
Despite these promises, many Republicans have previously been against such investments due to the increased debt load needed to pay for them. While Trump has promised that the debt will not increase due to the plan, most economists agree that the deficit will have to expand to finance any such project, given Trump’s other promises to cut taxes.
Watch the full remarks here:
This Trump riff on infrastructure is genuinely fascinating. Will be remarkable to see if/how he sells this to the GOP Congress. pic.twitter.com/RBHdVwaKuv
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 27, 2017