Trump Executive Order on Infrastructure Spending Gets Blowback
President Trump signed an executive order on Jan. 31 that will push for federal dollars spent on infrastructure projects to be put toward American companies. Before the event was captured for media cameras gathered at the White House, Trump trade adviser and former Global Trade cover boy Peter Navarro gave reporters a description of the order whose stated aim is to bolster workers who are “blue-collar Trump people” the administration is focused on helping.
Navarro and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta stood by as Trump told the press that the reasoning behind the order was that “we don’t get treated great by many countries in terms of our trade deals,” adding that he wants infrastructure projects to be built with “American steel,” “American iron” and “American hands.”
But the order drew a swift rebuke from Nathan Nascimento, executive vice president of Freedom Partners, an Arlington, Virginia-based non-profit that promotes “the benefits of free markets and a free society.”
“With this action, the government is stepping in and dictating winners and losers at the expense of taxpayers who will foot the bill for projects that are needlessly more expensive, take far longer to build, and create a nightmare of bureaucratic red-tape,” said Nascimento. “A better approach is to lower barriers to entry to increase competition and get taxpayers the best value on the dollar. We urge the administration to reject protectionist measures like this that hurt America.”
Nascimento had a busy week in Trump trade land. The day before Trump signed the order, the Freedom Partners executive VP issued this statement with Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips: “For months, our economy, farmers, American workers, and businesses have been hampered by uncertainty in the wake of tariff escalation. The bipartisan Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act is imperative to reinstate Congress’s authority to approve tariffs and provide a much-needed check on what is just another tax on Americans. The Constitution gives the legislative branch responsibility to impose tariffs. It is essential that those powers over tariffs are restored.”
And the day before that, Freedom Partners chimed in with this: “U.S. and Chinese representatives are scheduled to meet in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss how to resolve the trade war. There is a solution that would enable both sides to win—taking down barriers to trade.
“Across the country, Americans are being harmed by tariffs and the retaliation they’ve invited from abroad. Farmers who can’t sell their products overseas are forced to let them spoil or take deep cuts in their profits to move them. Consumers are paying higher prices to cover the costs of these tariffs. What’s more, businesses that purchase many of the component parts for their products from other countries are feeling the sting from these taxes. After all, that is what tariffs are—taxes paid by American consumers and businesses. And they come with a steep cost.
“We hope a swift resolution to the trade war will be found, starting with these talks. Dropping tariffs and other trade barriers is in the interest of both nations and will promote greater prosperity.”