Remember back in the heady days of the campaign when then-candidate Donald Trump promised to create 25 million jobs with his economic plan? Many of these jobs were to come from a massive reboot to American infrastructure. He promised a 10-year, trillion-dollar program that would solve many of America’s aging infrastructure woes as well as add new, better jobs for millions of American workers. The promise actually had some bipartisan appeal — both sides of the aisle acknowledge the poor state of our roads, bridges and rails and obviously support job creation. But, of course, any plan does require congressional backing. Trump soon created a White House advisory group, the Council on Infrastructure, populated with both practiced politicians and industry bigwigs to help with the initiative.
President Trump’s original budget proposal to Congress in April didn’t include an infrastructure initiative, and some critics found it very short on job creation initiatives.
But then in June the president released his graphics-heavy infrastructure plan. According to the plan, “The president has dedicated $200 billion in his budget for infrastructure that can be leveraged for a $1 trillion investment into our crumbling systems. Investing in rural infrastructure is a key part of the president’s plan.” The plan also promised to create jobs for 1 million apprentices in two years.
The president soon went on trip to promote his infrastructure plan in economically hard-hit areas of Ohio and Kentucky.
Reaction was mixed. Evelyn Cheng of CNBC made the case that the promised infrastructure jobs would be not only forthcoming, but also would be much better paying, citing investment banker and economist Daniel Alpert.
“The private sector has done all it reasonably can, yet the US labor market remains a shadow of its former self. It is time to rebuild America,” Albert, a founding managing partner of Westwood Capital, said in a presentation called “The Case for Aggressive Fiscal Spending on Infrastructure in 2017.”
Former Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Holtz-Eakin wrote a CNN op-ed with a different take, worried that:
The relentless focus on a “$1 trillion infrastructure program” puts spending money as a greater priority than getting the actual work done. That’s a mistake. And there is always the chance the federal dollars will get hijacked and wasted by big-city progressive mayors, which will not improve national connectivity or economic performance.
But those big-city mayors and local initiatives are exactly the point, contends Louis Uchitelle in his book Making It: Why Manufacturing Still Matters. Uchitelle argues that the removal of manufacturing from our urban centers is a civil rights issue — leaving generations of minority populations without access to well-paid local work. Though he doesn’t see a real return to the manufacturing heyday of the 1950s-70s, he does say that infrastructure employment is the wave of the future.
But therein lies the problem. There was already an Obama-era initiative to help urban and rural workers find good-paying industrial and infrastructure jobs in their home areas. It was called Local Labor Hiring Preference Pilot Program and “focuse[d] on local or other geographic labor hiring preferences, economic-based labor hiring preferences (i.e., low-income workers) and labor hiring preferences for veterans.” That was in January 2017, when an extension of the program was announced to carry on through to 2022.
But that program is no longer. As with other Obama-era initiatives, it’s been disbanded by the Department of Transportation under the Trump administration. According to reporting by Bill Raden of Newsweek earlier this month:
With momentum on infrastructure stuck in neutral, the administration this week is quietly moving ahead to repeal a 2-year-old initiative dating from the Obama administration that might be the only dynamic infrastructure and jobs program in existence at the federal level. According to its August Significant Rulemaking Report, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has set Friday as the termination date for a program that has already enabled states and cities to create thousands of new, high-wage transportation and construction jobs in some of the nation’s most depressed local labor markets.
‘Many of these jobs were finally addressing long-term unemployment — many, for people of color,’ said Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of PolicyLink, an economic and social equity think tank. ‘This is yet another example of the Trump administration not standing up for jobs for the nation’s most vulnerable.’
Oh, and as for the Council on Infrastructure, that’s been disbanded in the wake of the turmoil over Trump’s comments on Charlottesville.
Trump doubles down after being confronted with his claim Biden wants an ‘invasion’ of suburbs
At Wednesday's press conference, President Donald Trump was confronted with his claim that former Vice President Joe Biden would trigger an "invasion" of suburban neighborhoods — widely considered to be a racist dog whistle for affordable housing that will attract more people of color.
“What do you mean by invasion?” the reporter asked.
“They’re going to open up areas of your neighborhoods — they’re going to destroy suburbia,” insisted Trump. He added that "by the way, 30 percent of the people in suburbia are minorities," evidently on the defensive from claims that he was appealing to racism.
Newsweek attacked after editorial column starts a new birther conspiracy about Kamala Harris
Newsweek is being attacked after they ran an opinion column by John Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University. "Some Questions for Kamala Harris About Eligibility," was the headline.
The opening of the story already speculates that Harris is somehow ineligible for the position because she's also somehow ineligible to be president.
"The fact that Senator Kamala Harris has just been named the vice presidential running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has some questioning her eligibility for the position," said the Chapman University professor. "The 12th Amendment provides that 'no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.' And Article II of the Constitution specifies that '[n]o person except a natural born citizen...shall be eligible to the office of President.' Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized U.S. citizen at the time of Harris' birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a 'natural born citizen'—and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president."
‘Emergency was a sham’: Top Democrat says IG report on Saudi arms deal ‘deeply damning’ for Mike Pompeo
"What sort of emergency makes itself known a few months in advance and can be resolved with weapons delivered years later?"
Rep. Eliot Engel, Democratic chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Tuesday that an inspector general report revealed the State Department's claim last year of an "emergency" to sell billions of dollars in arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates "was a sham" and accused the department of deploying "scare tactics to try to keep a lid on the report."