The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Editorial:
Infrastructure Crumbles while Trump Fiddles

Mar 20, 2017

Donald Trump says he wants to put money into fixing the country’s crumbling infrastructure. Last summer, as a candidate, he promised a trillion dollars to address it.

Yes, it is absolutely true that the infrastructure is crumbling! Just in the past few weeks, we’ve seen a slew of shocking stories:

In Dallas, a six-month-old baby died after his babysitter couldn’t reach 911. Dallas’s aging 911 technology couldn’t tell the difference between calls on hold and hang-ups, creating a huge backlog.

In northern California, heavy rains created a huge hole in the spillway of the Oroville Dam, leading to the emergency evacuation of more than 200,000 residents. This dam is one of 14,000 in the country classified as a “high hazard potential” and needs repair.

Leaking sewer pipes caused sinkholes to appear suddenly in Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Fraser, Michigan, swallowing cars and homes.

In southeast Michigan, from Detroit to Brighton, high winds toppled trees, branches and power lines, leaving more than one million people without power for days, some for almost a week. This was not an act of nature, but a result of budget cuts leaving many trees untrimmed and power lines and grids unmaintained.

Also in Detroit, an equipment malfunction at a water treatment plant caused water pressure to drop to levels that could allow bacterial contamination. Tens of thousands in the city, including 29 schools, were not informed of this danger until long after they had been using this potentially contaminated water.

And, of course, the city of Flint still suffers with lead-contaminated water, several years after the problem was first publicized.

All over the country, roads, bridges, dams, power grids, and water systems are crumbling. All over the country, people are suffering, being injured, and even dying because of the failures of this aging, crumbling infrastructure.

But Trump’s budget proposal does nothing to address this emergency. Just the opposite, in fact.

To begin with, the amount budgeted falls far short of the trillion dollars he talked about on the campaign trail last summer. And even that trillion dollars is in fact a drop in the bucket – the American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that 4.6 trillion dollars will be needed over the next 10 years, for repairs and expansion.

Instead of more resources being devoted to infrastructure repair, Trump’s budget is actually full of cuts.

The Department of Transportation would be cut by 2.4 billion dollars. Amtrak’s budget would be slashed, the FAA would be privatized, and other transit projects would be canceled. Funding for New Starts, a federal infrastructure grant program, would be cut. The TIGER discretionary grant program would be eliminated; this program was going to be giving money to the cities of Detroit and Flint, to repair buses and roads. No more. In fact, the only large-scale infrastructure project Trump promises billions of dollars toward – is that useless wall on the southern border!

Trump is proposing nothing to rebuild the infrastructure. To the extent that he talks about building projects at all, he proposes to turn over roads and highways to private companies so that they could turn a profit on toll roads! He’s proposing to dismantle public maintenance and oversight and to give public works projects to for-profit corporations, of his cronies, first and foremost.

This is not a plan to fix the infrastructure. It is a plan to transfer even more cost onto our backs.

Will we trust the words of a real estate billionaire tycoon turned president and pay for the roads, bridges, and structure repairs with our lives and health and taxes and already low wages? Or will we organize and fight for real infrastructure repair financed by Wall Street money; money that was stolen from the workers’ labor in the first place?