US President-Elect Donald Trump, who built his business on constructing towers, used his victory speech early today in New York to repeat his pledge to put “millions of people to work” rebuilding American infrastructure, airports, schools and hospitals.
Addressing ecstatic supporters at his campaign headquarters after a poll-defying victory over Hillary Clinton, Trump said “rebuilding our nation and renewing the American dream” would give every American the chance to “realise his or her fullest potential”.
It would, he said, employing his signature language, be “a beautiful thing”.
“Construction is what I know. Nobody knows it better”– Donald Trump
After praising Clinton for her service to the US, and pledging to be “president for all of Americans”, the celebrity business tycoon moved immediately to his campaign promise literally to rebuild America’s neglected infrastructure and built environment.
“We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals,” he said to whoops and applause. “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none, and we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”
His victory should please the American Society of Civil Engineers, who warned this year that the US will lose 2.5 million jobs and $3.9 trillion in GDP over the next 10 years unless it spends a further $1.4 trillion to improve transport, power and water infrastructure.
But it will anger some conservatives who oppose state-led stimulus measures and who accuse Trump of wanting only to make government “huge”.
His rival Hillary Clinton proposed $275bn in direct spending on infrastructure over five years, plus another $225bn in loans and loan-guarantee programs.
Trump said more than twice that was needed, while avoiding precise figures.
“Her number is a fraction of what we’re talking about. We need much more money to rebuild our infrastructure,” he told Fox Business Network in August. “I would say at least double her numbers, and you’re going to really need a lot more than that.”
That would be more than $1 trillion on infrastructure.
Describing his vision, Trump compared himself to Dwight D. Eisenhower who, as president from 1953 to 1961, pushed for the construction of America’s interstate highway system.
He would, he said, “implement a bold, visionary plan for a cost-effective system of roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, railroads, ports and waterways, and pipelines”.
“When I see the crumbling roads and bridges, or the dilapidated airports or the factories moving overseas to Mexico, or to other countries for that matter, I know these problems can all be fixed, but not by Hillary Clinton,” Trump said in June. “Only by me. Construction is what I know. Nobody knows it better.”
Big infrastructure spending promises angered one of Trump’s own economic advisors, the conservative economist Stephen Moore, who said the idea that America’s infrastructure was crumbling was a myth, and who derided President Obama’s $1 trillion spending on infrastructure as a waste.
“The road builders, unions, municipal bond traders are drooling at the idea of all this money,” he wrote in The Washington Times.
But he commended Trump for how he proposed to pay for all the work, by allowing companies “to repatriate capital from abroad at a low tax rate and use the money raised to fix bridges and roads”.
International financiers may applaud Trump’s victory, since he has said he would expand public-private partnerships for infrastructure.
He would, he said, “leverage new revenues and work with financing authorities, public-private partnerships, and other prudent funding opportunities”, and “harness market forces to help attract new private infrastructure investments through a deficit-neutral system of infrastructure tax credits”.
Observers will watch carefully, however, because Trump has tended to avoid detail, which is where the devil is.
Courtesy: Global Construction