How to Find $1 Trillion for Trump
On October 22, 2016 at Gettysburg, PA, then candidate Donald Trump, now President elect, presented his plan for his first 100 days in office. His “Contract with the American Voter” will strive to revitalize and protect the America’s economy.
Included in that package was his “American Energy & Infrastructure Act.” As he explained his approach would leverage “public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years.” His promise was that the infrastructure stimulus would be “revenue neutral.”
Spending $1,000,000,000,000 has not been a popular concept with the fiscal conservatives of both sides of the aisle and concerns have been expressed:
The conflict between advocates of improving the aviation infrastructure (the NAS and airports) and those opposed to such an initiative (historically an enclave of airlines and others who find fault with any tax addition) is an old one. The Trump Trillion tact will likely meet the same opposition. The debate will likely devolve into possible alternative sources of funding.
The obvious unused pot of money in the United States would be the public/private partnerships and the Trump Transition staff has touted that as a preferred option. It will be interesting to see how the new Administration and their advisers identify new ways to get these projects built expeditiously.
Here are a few avenues for stimulating the aviation infrastructure investment:
- The airports (ACI and AAAE) would argue for PFCs.
- A4A will oppose.
- Even a casual observer of the FAA’s statutory airport privatization pilot program would have to fault it—very few proposals have made it through the bureaucratic maze; for example the NEPA review can consume an inordinate amount of time.
- Unless 49 USC § 47134 is amended to establish a reasonable time table, the private sector will not rush with capital to fund airports through this mechanism.
- It might be worthwhile to segment the P3 market by separating GA financing from the general program. Targeting underperforming facilities, creating a classified class of private entities and expediting the process might help.
- Transfer the time-consuming NEPA review process from the FAA to the states which are closest to the environmental issues being considered; FHWA has already been given such discretion and has exercised it–FHWA’s ‘Every Day Counts’ Initiative is Empowering States.
- Look to innovative ideas like that from Fred Hochberg is chairman of the Export-Import Bank of the United States and former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood
“..Take the money generated by the Export-Import Bank of the United States and use it to leverage infrastructure investment here at home.”
The Ex-Im Bank provides financing for U.S. exporters and, in the process, generates revenue for American taxpayers—$3.8 billion since 2009. The Wall Street Journal has called that revenue “profit,” but it is also an opportunity for infrastructure. Why not take that revenue and use it innovatively to seed even more capital to improve our infrastructure?
One of the keys to being competitive, in addition to having cutting-edge products, is an export credit agency that supports them. “Made in America” is the best selling point we have, but it is not enough in this competitive environment.
- There exists now a new, unexpected set of allies in Congress – TRUMPOCRATS – Democrats who understand the voter intrigue with Making America Great and they may help find new approaches to move budgetary dollars to job productive spending like airports, specifically the rebuilding of JFK International Airport.
The next 100 days hold the potential for great advantage and great harm to aviation infrastructure. If the innovative ideas come from persons/ organizations with only theoretical knowledge of aviation, the likelihood that practical or realistic answers will be adopted IS SMALL.
Thus, this is a call for a few good ideas from those who operate airports, who fly airplanes, who fund these investments, who structure these transaction, who construct these projects, etc. to proffer a few good ideas.