Hillary Clinton’s Infrastructure Plan

Likely future President Hillary Clinton released her infrastructure plan (PDF version) back in November, but I am just paying attention to it now. This is far more detailed than many Presidential plans and suggests someone who is in the field (though more likely an advocate or lobbyist rather than an academic) drafted it for her. Notably it is infrastructure, not just transportation, though it focuses on transport, it includes energy, water, and telecommunications. While transportation is a settled issue for the first few years given the recent passage of surface transportation reauthorization, this document still will set the agenda for the next re-up.

It is more or less the current agenda, but some key points:

  • Increase federal infrastructure investment by $275B over 5 years, paid for with business tax reform, not user fees, because???? [Not that there should or should not be business tax reform, but why should that revenue go to transport rather than the general fund. Why should general fund revenue support transport when user fees are straightforward? One can always frame it as a wholesale tax on oil companies to avoid the “gas tax” moniker. I recognize it is still too soon for road pricing, but something about how electric vehicles would contribute would be nice. Also the plan is not clear on why this is a federal rather than state responsibility.]
  • Reauthorize “Build America Bonds”, which are probably a better mechanism than municipal bonds.
  • Create a national infrastructure bank which is almost a real bank. In principle this is good, though the devil as always is in the details. There is still a lot of vagueness in the proposal (like what’s in it for the bank with regards to loan guarantees, i.e. how does the bank recover its guarantees), but much of the language, like selecting projects based on merit, and no discussion about “grants” is important.

At any rate, I was pleased to see our Fix it First report referenced, even if not really adopted. Hopefully it moved the dial a little bit on discussions in Washington.