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Opinion: The St. Louis Region Would Not Benefit From The Trump Administration’s Infrastructure Plan

March 7, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: The St. Louis Region Would Not Benefit From The Trump Administration’s Infrastructure Plan
Grand at I-64, June 2011

Last month the Trump administration unveiled its infrastructure proposal.   Trump’s alma mater, the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, analyzed the plan:

Key Points

  • President Trump recently released his updated infrastructure plan along with the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget. The plan proposes to increase federal infrastructure investment by $200 billion to provide incentives for a total new investment of $1.5 trillion in infrastructure.
  • However, based on previous experience reviewed herein, most of the grant programs contained in the infrastructure plan fail to provide strong incentives for states to invest additional money in public infrastructure. Indeed, an additional dollar of federal aid could lead state and local governments to increase infrastructure total spending by less than that dollar since state and local governments can often qualify for the new grant money within their existing infrastructure programs. We estimate that infrastructure investment across all levels of government, including partnerships with the private sector, would increase between $20 billion to $230 billion, including the $200 billion federal investment.
  • We estimate that the plan will have little to no impact on GDP.

Here’s their summary of findings:

The White House’s newest infrastructure plan proposes to increase federal spending by $200 billion to stimulate a total of $1.5 trillion in new spending across all levels governments and the private sector. However, based on past evidence, much of the new federal aid would lead to state and local governments increasing total infrastructure investment by less than the value of the aid itself. We estimate that total new infrastructure investment would increase between $20 billion to $230 billion, including the $200 billion federal investment. There will be little to no impact on the economy.

And their conclusion:

President Trump has presented a broad outline for infrastructure policy with a federal commitment of $200 billion. We find that most of the $200 billion will not be spent on programs that encourage state and local governments to vastly expand spending on infrastructure. As a result, the plan has a very small impact on the size of the economy. The plan produces slightly better outcomes when funded by user fees than when deficit-financed.

From the right-leaning Brookings Institute:

Not only does the administration not specify where it will find the additional $200 billion of direct spending it calls for over the next decade, but also it makes what most experts regard as wildly unrealistic assumptions about the amount of state, local, and private funding this modest increment will spark. Although the word “leverage” is sprinkled liberally throughout the plan, hardly anyone believes that $200 billion federal dollars will produce an additional $1.3 trillion investment from non-federal sources, especially when state and local budgets are being squeezed by rising costs for education and health care.

In recent years, both Republicans and Democrats called for dedicating to infrastructure some of the proceeds from repatriating corporate profits held overseas—an idea that Republicans rejected in their recent tax bill.

There are other options. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), the chair of the powerful House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, has floated the idea of raising the gas tax within the House Republican caucus. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a longtime advocate of increased infrastructure investment, has called for a 25-cent-per-gallon increase, which would raise $375 billion over the next decade. Some Republicans are calling for a carbon tax, which they regard as a better way of attacking climate change than detailed regulation with large compliance costs. Considering that a more efficient transportation system would also help reduce CO2 emissions, using some of the carbon tax proceeds for roads and highways would make sense.

If it passes the GOP-controllled congress it won’t have an impact here in the St. Louis region. Illinois & Missouri and our regional counties & municipalities are all strapped for cash. Missouri is unwilling to raise the fuel tax. Like the neoliberal Democratic plan to privatize the St. Louis airport. our public infrastructure could become private in an effort to fix it.

The view of one senator:

In California, Texas and South Carolina, privately owned toll roads went bankrupt or were foreclosed because of exaggerated projections from investors. Time and again, these private companies who take over public infrastructure showed they do not represent the public’s best interests.

In addition to the obvious siphoning of public resources that Trump’s tax breaks and private equity financing entail, his administration has been pushing “asset recycling,” i.e. selling off existing assets – like airports, bridges and highway rest stops – to private investors and using the revenue (“recycling” it) to fund new facilities.

It is important to note, moreover, that weak investment in America’s infrastructure is not due to lack of access to financing, but because of constraints associated with insufficient state and local government revenue. Trump’s public-private partnership model does not address this problem and, in fact, exacerbates it by increasing overall costs to taxpayers. And because smaller-scale projects, like those in rural areas, may not be profitable enough to attract private equity investors, his model risks leaving many parts of the country behind.

But Donald Trump wants to hand over more critical public infrastructure to private investors who will squeeze profits from the American people by putting up new tolls and exorbitant users’ fees. That would be unacceptable. We shouldn’t be selling off public assets to billionaires to make huge profits on the backs of working people.

Trump’s plan is the exact opposite of what we should be doing as a nation. Instead of creating more tax giveaways to corporate America and Wall Street, we should be eliminating tax loopholes that allow profitable corporations to stash their cash in offshore tax havens around the world. And we should be using this revenue to directly invest $1 trillion to modernize our nation’s infrastructure – a plan that would put 15 million Americans back to work in good-paying jobs.

The above is from SEn. Bernie Sanders.

This is where I’d normally include the results of the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll. However, shortly after the poll began I inadvertently tossed the post in the trash. I got busy during the day and didn’t recover the post until after the poll closed at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen Week 36 of 2017-2018 Session

March 2, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen Week 36 of 2017-2018 Session
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 36th week of the 2017-2018 session. As they’re near the end of the session there’s not enough time to introduce anymore new board bills and get them passed.

Today’s agenda includes the swearing in of newly-elected 8th ward alderman Annie Rice. Rice won a 2-way special election on 2/13/18 — she received 59.75% of the 2,144 votes.  See results and precinct results.

There are also two Board Bills for Perfection – Informal Calendar.

  • B.B.#99AA – Pres. Reed/Vaccaro/Arnowitz/Navarro/Murphy/ Howard/Boyd – An ordinance pertaining to the collection of funds to assist in the prevention of domestic violence in support of individuals impacted; authorizing the Comptroller to establish “The Domestic Violence Prevention and Family Support Fund”.
  • B.B. #129 – Vaccaro? An ordinance to make it unlawful, subject to those exceptions stated herein, for any person to ride, walk or otherwise lead a horse or horses on, along or over the public streets, alleys and sidewalks within the City and the paths and trails, and any extensions thereof within the City.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session. The board will meet again one week from today, after that the next full meeting is Monday April 16th  — known as Sine Die. The next day,  Tuesday April 17th, is the first meeting of the 2018-2019 session.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Missouri Governor Eric Greitens Should Resign

February 28, 2018 Crime, Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Opinion: Missouri Governor Eric Greitens Should Resign
Mugshot of Missouri Governor Eric Greitens

The reasons why Eric Greitens should NOT resign as Missouri’s governor are few, the reasons he should are numerous. Let’s review the issue quickly:

Missouri GOP Gov. Eric Greitens was indicted on Thursday amid looming allegations of sexual misconduct and blackmail following an admission of an affair last month.

He was charged in St. Louis with a first-degree felony invasion of privacy, according to the Missouri court system. 
In a statement Thursday, Greitens denied committing any crime and instead called the situation “a personal mistake” from his time prior to taking office. (CNN)

Here’s a little more detail:

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who was swept into office in 2016 with a vow to clean up a corrupt state government, was indicted and booked Thursday on a felony invasion of privacy charge for allegedly taking and transmitting a non-consensual photo of his partly nude lover shortly before that campaign started.

It stems from a scandal that broke last month, in which Greitens was accused of threatening his lover with the photo — an allegation that isn’t mentioned in the indictment. Greitens has admitted having an extramarital affair, but has denied the rest. (Post-Dispatch)

So here’s why he shouldn’t resign:

  • An indictment isn’t proof of guilt. The prosecution & defense are both going to debate the applicability of the Missouri privacy law Greitens is accused of violating in 2015. Innocent until proven guilty by a jury of peers is an important part of our justice system.
  • This is a personal matter from before the election.

The above sound very logical until you look at it from other perspectives — here’s why he should resign:

  • Defending himself against this charge will require his full attention. Sorry Missouri…the governor is preoccupied. The day after the indictment he resigned from a leadership post with the Republican Governors Association — to focus on Missouri. More like to save his own skin.
  • The felony charge is serious. Ok. not Illinois-level serious but still possible jail time if found guilty.
  • Even some members of his own party are saying he should:

    Greitens should resign, even before his criminal case reaches a conclusion, said Reps. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, and Marsha Haefner, R-Oakville.

    “The recent news of Gov. Greitens’ indictment on a felony charge is very disturbing,” Dogan said. “While the governor is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, the governor appears to have lied to the people of Missouri when he said in January that he had not taken a photograph of a woman who was undressed, blindfolded and bound.” (Springfield News-Leader)

  • His defense team wants an early trial, like May, but the St, Louis Circuit Attorney says more time is needed to conclude the investigation and prepare the case. With state primaries in August and the midterm elections in November this could hurt GOP candidates. Hmm, perhaps he shouldn’t resign — that way neoliberal Sen. Claire McCaskill has a chance at being reelected.
  • Until a jury finds him guilty or not guilty this will prevent him from doing his job. Who will slash budgets of programs helping the poor, lower taxes for the wealthy, etc?

Here are the results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Missouri Gov Eric Greitens, indicted last week, is innocent until proven guilty in court. He should only resign if found guilty.

  • Strongly agree 9 [18.37%]
  • Agree 4 [8.16%]
  • Somewhat agree 3 [6.12%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 3 [6.12%]
  • Somewhat disagree 2 [4.08%]
  • Disagree 16 [32.65%]
  • Strongly disagree 10 [20.41%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [4.08%]

A little more than half think Greitens should resign.

Even if he somehow continues he’ll only be in office for one term. I think we’ll see Lt Gov Mike Parson sworn in as Governor before the midterm election in November.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Missouri’s Governor Eric Greitens Resign?

February 25, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Missouri’s Governor Eric Greitens Resign?
Please vote below

Thursday was a busy news day.

Robert Mueller filed new charges against Manafort & Gates, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner drank chocolate milk to demonstrate his commitment to diversity, and Missouri Governor Eric Greitens was indicted:

The St. Louis grand jury’s indictment accused Mr. Greitens, a first-term Republican who was seen as having ambitions for higher office, of photographing a nude or partially nude person without the person’s knowledge or consent in 2015. The indictment said Mr. Greitens then transmitted the photo in a way that allowed it to be viewed on a computer, which prosecutors said made the crime a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

The charge comes weeks after Mr. Greitens acknowledged having an extramarital affair in 2015, but denied reports that he blackmailed the woman or took a nude photo of her without permission. A St. Louis television station had aired a report with claims that Mr. Greitens, a married father of two, took a compromising photograph of a woman with whom he was having an affair and then threatened her with retribution if she revealed the relationship. (New York Times)

Democrats, and some Republicans, are now calling on Greitens to resign. This is the subject of today’s poll.

On Friday he resigned his leadership post in the Republican Governors Association.

 

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen Week 35 of 2017-2018 Session

February 23, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen Week 35 of 2017-2018 Session
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 35th week of the 2017-2018 session.

NEW BOARD BILLS ON THE AGENDA* FOR INTRODUCTION TODAY 2/23/18:

*Note that just because a bill is on the agenda doesn’t mean it’ll be introduced, similarly, bills not on the agenda might be introduced if they suspend the rules to do so. This information is based on the published agenda as of yesterday @ 8am:

  • B.B.#266 – Navarro –An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 215 York.
  • B.B.#267 – Moore – Pursuant to Ordinance 68937, an ordinance authorizing the honorary street name, Frankie Muse Freeman Boulevard, to begin at the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and North Sarah and run east on Lincoln to the intersection of Lincoln and Bishop P. L. Scott Avenue.
  • B.B.#268 – Muhammad –An ordinance prohibiting the issuance of any package or drink liquor licenses for any currently non?licensed premises within the boundaries of the Twenty-First Ward Liquor Control District.
  • B.B.#269 – Guenther –An Ordinance establishing a four-way stop site at the intersection of Iowa and Juniata regulating all traffic traveling northbound and southbound on Iowa at Juniata and regulating all traffic traveling eastbound and westbound on Juniata at Iowa, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#270 – Boyd –An ordinance approving a Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Program for the City; authorizing certain other actions; amending Ordinance 69427 pertaining to workforce inclusion by amending Sections Three, Four, Five, and Ten of said ordinance, which are codified as Sections 3.110.020, 3.110.030, 3.110.040, and 3.110.090 of the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis, to increase percentage goals for minority, women, and city residents, and to put in place a mandatory one?year disqualification penalty and liquidated damages for developers and contractors who fail to meet the goals; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#271 – Navarro/Williamson — An ordinance pertaining to the Skinker-DeBaliviere Historic District; amending Ordinance #57688, approved September 22, 1973 and having as its subject matter the boundary and regulations and standards for the Skinker-DeBaliviere-Caitlin Tract Parkview Historic District, and providing new standards for the Skinker-DeBaliviere-Caitlin Tract Parkview Historic District.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session.

— Steve Patterson

 

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