Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


Trump visits Ohio to tout $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan

  • Trump-661

    President Donald Trump speaks Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Richfield.


  • APTOPIX-Trump-48

    President Donald Trump waves as he is introduced to speak at Local 18 Richfield Training Facility, Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Richfield.


  • Trump-657

    President Donald Trump speaks at Local 18 Richfield Training Facility, Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Richfield.



RICHFIELD, Ohio — With earth-mov­ers, hard­hats, and Amer­i­can flags as back­drops, Pres­i­dent Trump on Thurs­day urged Con­gress to en­act what he bills as the big­gest in­vest­ment in the na­tion’s roads, bridges, and pipe­lines that the na­tion has seen in half a cen­tury.

“Any­thing we can dream, we can build,” he said. “You will cre­ate the new high­ways, the new dams, and sky­scrap­ers that will be­come last­ing mon­u­ments to Amer­ica’s strength and con­tin­u­ing great­ness.”


President Donald Trump waves as he is introduced to speak at Local 18 Richfield Training Facility, Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Richfield.


This marked Mr. Trump’s sec­ond visit to Ohio in less than a year to pro­mote what the ad­min­is­tra­tion touts as a $1.5 tril­lion, 10-year pub­lic-pri­vate in­vest­ment in re­plac­ing and build­ing new in­fra­struc­ture, say­ing it is Amer­ica’s turn to be a “de­vel­op­ing coun­try.”

Pres­i­dent Obama vis­ited Ohio in 2011 in hopes of get­ting Cap­i­tol Hill to move a mas­sive in­fra­struc­ture plan that was largely seen as eco­nomic stim­u­lus part two. It never got off the ground.

Despite de­scrib­ing a sense of ur­gency, Mr. Trump con­ceded that he may have to wait un­til af­ter this year’s elec­tion to see pas­sage of the pack­age, whether as a sin­gle bill or a se­ries of bills.

He spoke to a pre­dom­i­nantly male, mixed crowd of suits, ties, and hard­hats at the In­ter­na­tional Union of Oper­at­ing Engi­neers Lo­cal 18 train­ing fa­cil­ity in Rich­field, north of Akron. The union rep­resents heavy equip­ment op­er­a­tors, me­chan­ics, en­gi­neers, and other con­struc­tion trades.

Gov. John Ka­sich, his for­mer foe in the 2016 con­test for the GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion and still a fre­quent critic, was no­where to be seen and was not men­tioned by the Pres­i­dent.

But Mr. Ka­sich’s lieu­tenant gov­er­nor, Mary Tay­lor, was in at­ten­dance as she has re­aligned her­self with Mr. Trump in her own bid for gov­er­nor this year. Her op­po­nent for the GOP nom­i­na­tion, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mike DeWine, did not at­tend.

In a 52-minute speech in which he swerved from sub­ject to sub­ject, the Re­pub­li­can Pres­i­dent talked mid­term elec­tions, vet­er­ans’ health care, tax cuts, South Korean trade, his prom­ised wall on the Mex­i­can bor­der, ju­di­cial ap­point­ments, and even the TV rat­ings of the Trump-talk­ing Rose­anne re­boot.

“We spent as of three months ago $7 tril­lion — not bil­lion, $7 tril­lion with a T — in the Mid­dle East,” Mr. Trump said. “We build a school. They blow it up. We build it again. They blow it up. ...

“But if you want a school in Ohio [to get] some win­dows, you can’t get the money,” he said. “If you want a school in Penn­syl­va­nia or Iowa and you need fed­eral money, you can’t get any money.”

The Coun­cil of Eco­nomic Ad­vis­ers es­ti­mates a $1.5 tril­lion in­vest­ment could boost growth in na­tional gross do­mes­tic prod­uct by 0.1 per­cent to 0.2 per­cent a year and em­ploy 290,000 to 414,000 con­struc­tion work­ers over 10 years.

The plan would put up $200 bil­lion in fed­eral fund­ing but would be heav­ily de­pen­dent on $1.3 tril­lion in state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment sup­port and pri­vate-sec­tor in­vest­ment to re­vi­tal­ize Amer­ica’s spirit of in­ge­nu­ity and imag­i­na­tion.

“It was dor­mant for many, many years, and now it’s back,” Mr. Trump said. “And we’re try­ing to have the pri­vate sec­tor in­vest the money. Why the hell should we do it, right?”

While the gen­eral idea of in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment has drawn sup­port across the aisle, the price tag, com­bined with that of the tax cuts passed last year, have so far kept it from mov­ing.

Dem­o­crats have ar­gued that the plan does not in­clude enough fed­eral in­vest­ment on the front end and fear it would lead to broader pri­vat­i­za­tion of tra­di­tion­ally pub­lic as­sets, lead­ing to more toll roads and bridges.

In ad­di­tion to dol­lars, the ad­min­is­tra­tion is look­ing to states like Ohio to loosen li­cens­ing re­quire­ments for skilled trades to make more lesser-ed­u­cated work­ers el­i­gi­ble for such jobs. It also wants to dra­mat­i­cally shorten the time for en­vi­ron­men­tal stud­ies and other per­mit­ting pro­cesses so that dirt can be moved more quickly.

While a com­pre­hen­sive in­fra­struc­ture plan has not moved, the ad­min­is­tra­tion is look­ing at $21 bil­lion in­cluded in the re­cent fed­eral spend­ing law as a down pay­ment to get things started.

Among those in the crowd was Demo­cratic for­mer Toledo area state Rep. Matt Szol­losi, who is now ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Af­fil­i­ated Con­struc­tion Trades of Ohio. The or­ga­ni­za­tion broke with much of la­bor to fi­nan­cially sup­port Mr. Ka­sich in 2014, in part be­cause of his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s le­ver­ag­ing of the Ohio Turn­pike and other bor­row­ing to in­vest heav­ily in in­fra­struc­ture.

He said he is “cau­tiously op­ti­mis­tic” about Mr. Trump’s plans.

“If the ini­tial in­vest­ment comes from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and is then matched or there’s ad­di­tional fund­ing from other sources, then we’re hope­ful that the over­all in­vest­ment leads to sig­nifi­cant job cre­ation for the con­struc­tion in­dus­try,” he said.

Mr. Szol­losi said his mem­bers don’t care where the money comes from.

“We’re look­ing for the in­vest­ment to oc­cur, and our mem­bers sim­ply want the op­por­tu­nity to work and earn a liv­ing for our fam­i­lies,”he said.

Contact Jim Provance at jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.

Click to comment

Quis autem vel eum iure reprehenderit qui in ea voluptate velit esse quam nihil molestiae consequatur, vel illum qui dolorem?

Temporibus autem quibusdam et aut officiis debitis aut rerum necessitatibus saepe eveniet.

Copyright © 2018 Toledo Blade

To Top

Fetching stories…