The industry groups behind last week’s “Infrastructure Week” campaign got exciting news today when presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton announced she’s going to make a big $275 billion “infrastructure” push in her first 100 days.
An anonymous Clinton aide told the Washington Post:
This proposal would represent the most significant increase in infrastructure investment since President Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System.
Streetsblog took a look at Clinton’s infrastructure proposal when she introduced it in December, and there wasn’t much more to it than a large dollar figure. Her proposal calls for spending $275 billion on top of the $300 billion for surface transportation already on the books for the next five years. It doesn’t, however, call for raising the gas tax, a mileage fee, or even the barrel of oil tax recently proposed by President Obama.
Instead, Clinton ‘s proposal envisions additional funding from a vague “business tax reform.” Whatever that turns out to mean in practice, it sounds a lot like the funding gimmicks that Washington has increasingly come to rely on to subsidize roads.
On the bright side, Clinton did call for more investment in transit, biking, and walking; for more accountability for state DOTs; and for greater use of “merit-based” project selection, rather than just shoveling money at states to pour into expensive highway projects, no questions asked.
Overall, Clinton’s infrastructure plan falls short compared to what Obama called for in his final budget proposal. That Obama blueprint would substantially raise transit funding without increasing the allocation for highways. It would have been a real policy shift, rather than the “more of everything” approach Clinton seems to favor. Congress, however, would not even dignify the Obama proposal with a formal hearing.