Trump’s Infrastructure Plans Mired in Internal White House Politics
National Economic Council Wins Turf War at Expense of National Trade Council
We haven’t heard much in the way of details lately about President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plans, one of his main promises while on the campaign trail. A recent report from McClatchy sheds light on the matter.
There were two groups inside the White House vying for the infrastructure portfolio, one headed by Peter Navarro, chief of the newly-formed National Trade Council, and the National Economic Council, led by former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn. To cut to the chase, Cohn won the turf war, hobbling efforts to jump-start the infrastructure initiative with some quick wins.
Navarro sent one Dan Slane traveling the country looking for shovel-ready projects at required regulatory relief, not federal funding. That approach side-stepped the thorny political issue of how Trump was going to come up with his promised $1 trillion for infrastructure. Slane developed a 50-project proposal that met that description and forwarded it to the White House where it died a quiet death thanks to Cohn’s political triumph.
Cohn is taking a different approach to developing an infrastructure plan. His team is gathering ideas from 16 federal agencies and departments and all 50 states. Deputy White House Secretary Lindsay Walters, in a statement, described the process as follows:
“Together with these agencies and with leaders at the state and local levels, we have already begun the process of identifying the reforms that will help us reach that visionary goal of creating dependable and efficient facilities and resources that will last for generations.”
That sounds like it’s going to take a long time. “I give them zero chance of getting this done in 2017,” Slane was quoted as saying.
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