Under President Donald Trump, the United States has added another spring ritual to accompany blooming flowers and the return of baseball: the fresh promise of a grand plan to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.
Tuesday, Trump and his advisers met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. There were similar meetings and similar brandings of “infrastructure week” in early 2017 and 2018, too. But this time, Democrats Pelosi and Schumer sounded optimistic about the conversation, and about a potential bipartisan plan to spend $2 trillion to repair the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and tunnels, improve the power grid and expand broadband service.
A vital nation must have high-quality infrastructure. Rebuilding ours would provide good-paying jobs, a better business environment and a safer and more comfortable nation. There is little opposition in either party, so it’s vexing that a bipartisan deal hasn’t already been done.
But it always comes down to funding and priorities. To spend $2 trillion, that money must be raised via public or private sources, whether it’s borrowed, assessed in gasoline taxes or other levies or captured via tolls and fees. And then it must be parceled out fairly and wisely.
The tri-state area needs major improvements. One is the Gateway project, a $30 billion effort to build a rail tunnel under the Hudson River. We need more workaday improvements, too, like safe roads and bridges. We need to be able to easily move products and people about. And we need to be able to move important legislation, too.
Trump and congressional leaders plan to meet again on the topic in three weeks. This time, they need to the framework of a deal. Because if failing to do so becomes an annual tradition, the decline of our nation will become a foregone conclusion.