Anyone holding an elective office is fair game for their record to be attacked. That’s politics and the American way. Donald Trump had no record from serving as an elected official when he ran for president four years ago. Hillary Clinton had to go after him on his accomplishments, or lack of them, in the private sector, where Trump spent his entire life. That has obviously changed as we approach Election Day 2020.
In 2016, Trump made several cornerstone campaign promises. Among them were to repeal and replace Obamacare with something better; build a wall on the Mexican border to be paid for, “guaranteed”, by the Mexicans; lower taxes; and rebuild the decaying infrastructure of America, which would create an untold number of jobs.
Trump did lower taxes, mostly for the wealthy, but the other side of the coin was the promise of all the revenue it would create to balance the budget. We were already in financial freefall, though, before the coronavirus pandemic, and now the wheels have come off.
Of the aforementioned promises, the one that made the most sense, was the most realistic, the most needed, and most likely to have strong bipartisan support, was a massive infrastructure bill. You can’t drive a hundred miles anywhere in America today without orange barrels, detour signs, road closed signs, potholes, and more. Bridges, tunnels, dams, water supply and sewer systems, airports, schools, hospitals, subway systems, etc. are in a state of disrepair and decay and held together by temporary fixes, hope and prayer---which are not strategies for anything except for momentarily feeling good.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Trump in May 2019 to discuss a $2 trillion infrastructure plan. The three agreed in principle that they needed to get this done. They also agreed to reconvene in a couple of weeks to give both sides an opportunity to figure out a way to pay for it.
When Pelosi and Schumer returned to the White House, Trump exploded, accusing Pelosi of conducting phony investigations against him concerning what Trump called the Russia hoax. Trump ended the meeting before it started and cut off any further discussions concerning an infrastructure bill unless the House ended its inquires of him. As a side note, when Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton were threatened with impeachment, and after they were impeached, they continued to do the nation’s business.
It’s impossible to know how many jobs would have been created if the two sides had come together with bipartisan legislation. The ripple effect of pumping $2 trillion into the economy would have been somewhat like the massive spending of World War II.
I recall during the Vietnam War, when there was so much opposition to it and the government, one of the mantras of opponents was that we should be engaged in a “domestic war”, which was a different way of saying the same thing about a plan to fix our infrastructure, that the money would be better spent at home on projects that would benefit all Americans. This conversation has been going on for over half a century with nothing to show for it.
Today our country is in deep trouble. Millions face eviction and foreclosure. Reportedly, some ten percent of Americans are experiencing food shortages. In the meanwhile, our elected officials, who are well compensated, are bickering about spending packages to provide continued relief to those who have lost jobs and businesses through no fault of their own. Not for a millisecond do I question the cost of these temporary solutions, but are the alternatives not so much worse?
Would this not be the perfect time for both sides to come together and pass a massive infrastructure bill? Would it really cost that much more than the band aids being applied now? The big difference, though, would be that the job market would explode ranging from engineers, architects, and countless other professionals right down to the mom and pop businesses and coffee shops. These jobs would be meaningful, give people real hope, create new taxpayers, and rebuild our economy and America---all at the same time.
I have no idea at this point if Trump will be reelected. It’s too early to predict despite what polls might suggest. But I think I can safely say that if the House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans---and Trump---can get over their personal differences and move this along, they would all be winners, and all Americans would be winners.
We did this in World War II, and did it quickly. That is proof it can be done again.