Trump Turnaround on Infrastructure Bank?

November 17, 2016

Former Goldman Sachs partner and Trump advisor Steven Mnuchin said the incoming administration is considering establishing an infrastructure bank with which to fund roads and bridges projects, according to a report on Mnuchin told reporters Wednesday a “very big focus is regulatory changes, looking at the creation of an infrastructure bank to fund infrastructure investments.”

The idea isn't new. President Obama proposed a National Infrastructure Bank in his 2017 budget that would fund water, energy, and transportation projects for up to 35 years. Candidate Clinton outlined a five-year plan that would have allocated $25 billion to an infrastructure bank. Trump dismissed her plan as being “controlled by politicians and bureaucrats in Washington.”

The infrastructure bank concept is well established in China and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau is creating a bank which will provide low-cost funding for that country's infrastructure projects.

The response to the Trump i-Bank trial balloon is mixed. Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Ore), the ranking member of the House Transportation Committee, said Wednesday that an infrastructure bank would just be “a nice minor tool in the toolbox” for upgrading the nation’s infrastructure.

Representative John Delaney (D-Maryland) called the idea encouraging. “We have a big bipartisan coalition in Congress that is ready to work on rebuilding America using revenues from international tax reform, and we are encouraged that Mr. Mnuchin has indicated that the next Administration is moving in this direction,” said Congressman Delaney. “We’ve built a bipartisan framework and developed the legislation that shows you can bring Republicans and Democrats together around a really good idea; if they are serious about a real solution, this is where they should look. We worked with the last Administration on this issue and look forward to continuing the effort. Conservatives, moderates and progressives understand that by combining international tax reform and infrastructure we can create good jobs, encourage more domestic investment and improve our business climate for decades to come.”

Mnuchin is said to be a possible choice for Treasury Secretary in the new administration.