Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, released on May 23, is a terrible attack on critical programs in almost every corner of the federal budget. It slashes funding for virtually all nondefense programs, such as public education, life-saving medical research, and environmental protection. It would make painful cuts to programs that help families maintain basic living standards. It uses bogus math to justify huge tax cuts for the rich. And it breaks Trump’s promise not to cut Social Security.
While Donald Trump is attempting to sell his so-called “infrastructure plan” to the American public, claiming that it will create new jobs and spur economic growth, his budget request gives us a clearer picture of how he really feels about our nation’s infrastructure. The truth is that his plan is really a giant scam that will only enrich his billionaire friends and foreign companies and will increase costs on Americans. If Trump really cared about improving our infrastructure, he would have requested funding for key programs needed to maintain our bridges, roads, public transit, and water systems. Instead, his proposed budget dramatically slashes funding for infrastructure. No matter what Trump says, this is what his budget actually does:
Depletes the Highway Trust Fund. This is the dedicated source of funding for repairing the nation’s highways, collected as a tax on gasoline. It is already underfunded, with the Congressional Budget Office estimating an $80 billion shortfall by 2026, so Congress has put significant funding from other sources toward the Trust Fund as well. Trump's budget cuts that funding by $95 billion over the next 10 years. Not only will this make our highway system less safe, it could also eliminate as many as 250,000 jobs over the next 10 years. The budget also opens the door to new and higher tolls on highways.
Derails public transit. The budget cuts funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment program in half, a $1.2 billion cut that could affect a dozen or more light rail, bus rapid transit, and streetcar projects. The budget also ends all federal funding for long-distance Amtrak trains, even though Amtrak had a record year for ridership in 2016 and along with its riders generates an estimated $11 billion in revenue.
Eliminates federal grants for new transportation projects. The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program has funded transportation projects in all 50 states since its inception in 2009. It leverages private sector funding along with state, local, and regional funding to stretch federal investment. TIGER grants were funded at $500 million in 2017, with at least 20% of funding required to go to rural projects, but receive $0 in funding in this budget.
Cuts the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps’ overall budget is cut by 16%, and funding for its construction account is sliced in half. This means there is half as much funding to maintain and repair levees, locks, and dams, along with other key water projects in the Everglades and along major rivers.
Jeopardizes modernization of our electric grid. As part of a $3.1 billion cut to the Department of Energy, the budget eliminates funding for the key research team for understanding the resiliency and vulnerability of our electric grid, the Office of Energy Policy and System Analysis. It cuts funding to the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, which helps ensure the security and deliverability of power, by nearly half. And the budget proposes to sell off billions of dollars worth of public assets, which could lead to higher utility costs for American consumers.
Remember: Congress—not the President—Funds the Government
Trump’s budget proposal is just that: a proposal. It is non-binding. Congress will ultimately determine which programs are funded and at what levels. Donald Trump is hoping that Congress rubber-stamps the decimation of these critical transportation and infrastructure programs. Make sure your MoCs are sticking up for you and your priorities in the budget fight, and not for Trump.