You will be shocked to learn that Trump is obstructing the progress of the immensely important “Gateway Tunnell” between New York and New Jersey:
The obstacle is not the usual red tape that delays U.S. infrastructure. The Portal Bridge already has its permits, while the environmental review for the new Hudson tunnel was fast-tracked and forwarded to the Transportation Department for approval in an unusually speedy two years. The obstacle is the Trump administration, which vowed in its infrastructure plan to accelerate the permits process, but has been sitting on this one without explanation. “I wouldn’t say we’re slow-walking it,” one administration official told me, before laughing. “OK, maybe a little.”
The Trump administration has put all kinds of roadblocks in front of Gateway, giving its grant applications disqualifying grades of “medium low priority” and denouncing its 50-50 funding agreement with Obama as a nonbinding marketing ploy. The administration has even rejected New York and New Jersey proposals to finance their share of Gateway with federal loans, arguing the loans shouldn’t count as state contributions, even though they have counted as state contributions on other projects.
The administration’s larger argument is that New York and New Jersey are relying too heavily on federal taxpayers for a mostly local project. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao has said they need to put more “skin in the game.” This also happens to be the main argument of the White House infrastructure plan released in February, which proposed limiting the federal contribution to most projects to 20 percent, down from as high as 80 or 90 percent today. Trump still portrays himself as America’s builder, but his plan amounted to urging state and local governments to build, and that has been his administration’s approach to Gateway.
On issues like Medicaid, taxes, gun control and even immigration, Trump has spouted bipartisan rhetoric before retreating to hard-right policies; infrastructure may be the most glaring example of that two-step. His infrastructure plan was mostly a plan to encourage others to develop plans, federalism with much less federal involvement. His austere budget proposal slashed transportation spending 13 percent. In fact, while Trump’s aides have complained that Gateway’s request for huge transit grants would vacuum cash away from other states, Trump’s budget would have eliminated those grants for everyone. He has not just proposed to build less infrastructure than he originally promised; he has proposed to build less infrastructure, period.
Donald Trump’s election was nothing if not a blow to the neoliberal order.