Steve Bannon Would Love to Team Up With Chuck Schumer on Infrastructure

Imagine all the Trump signs marking projects that get tax breaks from the infrastructure plan Steve Bannon is pushing for. Schumer photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls/Wikimedia Commons; Bannon photo: Don Irvine/Wikimedia Commons
Imagine all the Trump signs marking projects that get tax breaks from the infrastructure plan Steve Bannon is pushing for. Schumer photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls/Wikimedia Commons; Bannon photo: Don Irvine/Wikimedia Commons

We mentioned it briefly last week, but Trump advisor Steve Bannon’s comments to the Hollywood Reporter about infrastructure are worth a closer look. It helps explain why Democrats like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are making a grave mistake when they line up to help Trump implement this plan.

Bannon is the propagandist who entered the Trump campaign team after turning Breitbart into the world’s leading “news” source for white supremacists. In the Hollywood Reporter article, he refers to cities as “the metrosexual bubble” and lashes out at his enemies list, which includes “globalists,” liberals, elites, centrists, and Megyn Kelly.

Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan is the central piece of what Bannon calls his “economic nationalist” (read: white nationalist) agenda:

Like [Andrew] Jackson’s populism, we’re going to build an entirely new political movement. It’s everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. With negative interest rates throughout the world, it’s the greatest opportunity to rebuild everything. Ship yards, iron works, get them all jacked up. We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s, greater than the Reagan revolution — conservatives, plus populists, in an economic nationalist movement.

Policywise, Bannon seems to have no idea what he’s talking about. The references to “ship yards” and “iron works” don’t make much sense. We’re talking about a plan to build roads, water systems, and electrical grids.

There’s a good reason a propagandist wouldn’t want to talk about the actual infrastructure policy that Trump’s team has floated. The construction industry is at nearly full employment right now, and Trump’s plan won’t have much if any stimulative effect.

As Ron Klain in the Washington Post and Paul Krugman at the New York Times have noted, the Trump proposal consists of tax incentives for projects that would probably get built anyway. It’s a gigantic taxpayer handout for contractors, and thanks to Trump’s opaque finances and failure to divest from his companies, the whole thing may be riddled with corruption and graft.

The Trump infrastructure plan makes a lot more sense as propaganda than as infrastructure policy. Remember all the signs that went up next to construction projects built with money from the 2009 stimulus bill? Now picture “Trump” signs on all the projects that get handouts from the next administration.

That would be ideal for Bannon. And Democrats like Schumer and Pelosi are playing right into his hands.

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Cross-posted from the Frontier Group. Politics has an indispensable role to play in infrastructure decision-making. There is and can be no objective definition of a society’s infrastructure “needs” — rather, they are shaped by economics, culture and the conscious expression of a society’s values and priorities through the political system. So, at this time of intense political […]