Comprehensive Impacts of Trump’s Second Year: Transportation, Infrastructure, & Housing
This publication is meant to be a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of the Trump administration. There are many things that happened during the campaign that are not included. For this series covering the second year, impacts from about January 20, 2018, to January 31, 2019, are included. An introduction to this year’s series is here.
You can read the complete series on the first year of the administration here.
There are sure to be things missing, but I have done my best to record these impacts. The impacts are compiled under 19 different categories, or articles:
3. Women & Families;
8. Health & Safety;
13. Social Contract;
17. General Governance;
18. Character; and
19. Some good news. Because there is always some good news.
Since this series takes a long time to write, I will publish each section as I complete it. This article is on Trump’s impacts on transportation, infrastructure, and housing.
Transportation, Infrastructure, & Housing
Trump’s plans for infrastructure, including transportation and housing, will put Americans at risk in many ways. Senior Vice President of the Environmental Defense Fund David Festa described four specific ways: By sidestepping bedrock environmental review laws; by overlooking green infrastructure investments; by diverting funds and handing out subsidies to developers who build with no consideration for natural disaster zones; and by continuing efforts to roll back environmental protections (described further in the article covering impacts on the environment).
In what might have been more appropriate in the article on ethics, Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) “awarded promotions and pay increases to five political operatives with no housing policy experience within their first months on the job, demonstrating what government watchdogs and career staff describe as a premium put on loyalty over expertise.” These people had worked on Donald Trump’s or Ben Carson’s presidential campaigns.
· Trump’s budget continually attempts to cut funding for Amtrak in half. This is, as writer Bart Janson noted, “despite a series of accidents that led some lawmakers to propose more funding for the passenger railroad.”
· With the government shutdown and federal employees required to work without pay, hundreds of Transporation Security Administration (TSA) officers from at least four major airports called out sick, impacting those traveling by plane.
· Trump’s annual infrastructure plan amounted to a net loss for cities and states of $40 billion. Trump proposed spending $200 billion on infrastructure but didn’t account for $240 billion in cuts in the same budget, including $178 billion in cuts to transportation spending. As writer David Dayen pointed out, “The administration’s plan is to spend money with one hand, and take it away with the other.” All while explaining how unimportant infrastructure is to him.
· Further, Trump’s plan depends on a $100 billion matching grant program for states and cities to start their own projects, which is “supposed to entice private companies to come out of the woodwork and rebuild America to the tune of $1.5 trillion.” As writer Lindsay Koshgarian put it, “Just like Mexico won’t pay for a border wall, private investors won’t pay for roads, bridges, and energy infrastructure just because the president says they will. Kicking federal obligations to private companies doesn’t work that way.”
· In fact, as others have pointed out, Trump’s plan is actually Pence’s plan and is all about privatization.
· Ben Carson, director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, deleted anti-discrimination language from HUD mission statement, removing any reference to promises of inclusive and discrimination-free communities.
· Carson also worked to destroy fair-housing policies established by President Obama, removing an assessment tool that provided communities with data and maps to help them gauge segregation in various neighborhoods and create plans to address that segregation.
· In fact, Carson “postponed” (read: eliminated) the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule that President Obama passed to give teeth to a federal requirement from the Civil Rights era for local governments to take active steps to undo racial segregation.
· Trump’s budget proposal displayed what writer George Zornick described as “the most radical attack on federal housing aid since the US Housing Act became law in 1937.” As part of this attack, 5 million poor families could lose housing as a program to help them is decimated.
· Part of Trump’s absurd plan is to shift funding responsibilities from the federal government to the states and private sector, gutting affordable housing during an affordable housing shortage.
· Also during the affordable housing crisis, Carson revealed the administration’s plan to “triple rents for about 712,000 of the poorest tenants receiving federal housing aid and to loosen the cap on rents on 4.5 million households enrolled in federal voucher and public housing programs nationwide.”
· Further, Trump’s cuts to housing put Americans’ health at risk and increases inequities in their physical and mental health as “unsafe structural and environmental factors at home [are well known to] contribute to disease, disability, and injury.”
· During the government shutdown, millions of low-income tenants were put at risk of eviction when HUD funding lapsed without officials even knowing it.
· After Hurricane Maria, hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans were denied FEMA assistance to rebuild their homes and then either denied or didn’t answer 79 percent of the appeals.
· On the mainland, Trump refused to enact a federal disaster relief program that could have provided housing assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by California wildfires.
The next article will be on Immigration.