From The Editor

Trump Announces $1.5 Trillion for Infrastructure Plan

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In the budget proposal President Donald Trump released Monday, the infrastructure plan of $1.5 trillion appeared to be an early valentine to steel, aluminum and the entire domestic manufacturing industry.

Infrastructure spending benefits the metals industry in two ways, providing improved conditions to move metal from the mill to the service center or the service center to end user, making the domestic manufacturing sector move competitive in the process. At the same time, many of these investments require increased consumption of steel and other metal products to complete.

However, the plan only calls for $200 billion in federal investments, with the rest coming from some undetermined combination of state, local and private funding. And any plan is merely a blueprint, with a contentious congress left to hash out the full budget plan.

Groups like the American Trucking Associations and the American Association of Railroads were glad the president has put the issue front and center, but are not enthused by how the plan will be funded.

“While the White House’s plan kick starts this debate, it unfortunately falls short of the president’s campaign promise to go big and bold, because it lacks the required federal investment. A proposal that relies on fake funding schemes like highway tolls and privatizing rest areas will not generate the revenue necessary to make significant infrastructure improvements,” says ATA President and CEO Chris Spear.

The AAR concurs. “The sector particularly welcomes the efforts to streamline the federal permitting processes, including in the proposal’s attempt to codify executive orders into law while also strengthening existing processes. At its core, however, the most important aspect to any such package remains the integrity of the Highway Trust Fund. Policymakers should make every effort to return surface transportation funding to a truly equitable, user-pay system as originally designed,” says Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO.

There’s a long way to go between the nonbinding budget plan laid out by the president and what ultimately is produced by Congress. Let’s hope whatever the latter produces keeps the president’s priority for an infrastructure overhaul, but with a clear-cut way to fund it.