People For the American Way

“Trumptastrophe”: The ‘infrastructure week’ that never was

News and Analysis

Welcome to our weekly “Trumptastrophe” series that serves to remind us of the destructive policies, decisions, and actions we encountered during the Trump presidency and the threats that he and others in the MAGA movement still pose – and to keep those moments clear in our memory as we fight to defeat Republican extremists during the upcoming elections.

This week’s Trumptastrophe focuses on how frequently former President Trump allows his ego and self-interests to stand in the way of legislation that would benefit the America he allegedly wants to “make great again.” One shining and very publicly embarrassing example is Trump’s failure to pass an infrastructure deal – something his administration promised since the very early days:

On May 22, 2019, Trump “abruptly blew up a meeting with Democratic congressional leaders,” abandoning the chance for substantial negotiations on an infrastructure bill so he could engage in some staged ranting about how unfairly he was being treated.

Trump walked into a scheduled White House meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, but did not even sit down. He complained that Pelosi had said something “terrible” about him, walked out, and went to the Rose Garden, where the press corps had been assembled to hear him gripe about being the target of multiple investigations. He was reportedly angered by a news report about Pelosi characterizing White House efforts to stymie congressional investigators as a cover-up.

Schumer suggested that Trump had staged the blow-up because the administration had still not come up with a credible infrastructure package despite having promised one since taking office more than two years earlier. As The New York Times noted at the time, “It has become something of a joke in Washington—the phrase “infrastructure week” evokes laughter or eye-rolling whenever it comes up.”

The May 2019 episode is a reminder that for all his campaign bluster about making America great again, Trump was less interested in using his position to accomplish something significant for American communities than he was in protecting his own image and ego. When Trump did propose infrastructure spending, his plan was “a mirage” that would actually have “cut annual federal support for infrastructure in the long run and shift costs to states, cities, and private individuals” while “providing a potential windfall for private investors.”

This month, almost exactly five years later, the Biden administration is celebrating the tens of thousands of infrastructure projects made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that Biden signed before the end of his first year in office.

Notably, Trump had even tried to sabotage that legislation, publicly criticizing Republican congressional leaders for negotiating on what became a historic infrastructure deal. Trump’s opposition helps explain why only 13 House Republicans, and fewer than half of Senate Republicans, voted for the legislation. Sen. Ted Cruz complained that Republicans who supported the bill “gave Joe Biden a political win.”

Of course, that didn’t stop plenty of shameless Republican lawmakers from trying to take credit when funding they voted against began flowing to urgently needed infrastructure projects in their districts and states. And it hasn’t stopped right-wing Republicans from trying to derail some of that spending.

When Trump was trying to derail the infrastructure bill, Politico noted that “much of what has driven Trump’s approach to legislation in the past has been self-interest and personal grievance.” It is clear that the agenda of a second Trump administration would be dominated by self-interest and personal grievance—and policy giveaways to his far-right supporters.

Project 2025 is a “revolutionary” plan by right-wing organizations and former Trump administration officials to “take the reins of government” if he returns to office and “institutionalize Trumpism.” It “would gut the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes provisions for decarbonizing our transportation systems,” WBUR reported.

Trump and his allies are not interested in taking power so they can strengthen and modernize the infrastructure on which American families, workers, and the economy depend. Instead, they’re scheming for ways to destroy what they call the “administrative state,” weaken the ability of the federal government to protect individuals and communities, and give an authoritarian-minded president free rein to use his power against his personal and political opponents.

These are just some of the reasons we need YOU in this fight. So, find your favorite way to unwind after reading through this week’s recap, and then make a plan for how you will fight back this week, this month, this election cycle.

Tags:

Donald Trump, infrastructure, MAGA