Conservative group warns of deficit spending under Trump, Clinton

Conservative group warns of deficit spending under Trump, Clinton
© Getty

Whether it’s Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE or Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Ex-FBI official: 'Links and coordination' with Russia happen everyday Ex-FBI agent: Americans should be 'disgusted' by Russian interference in Mueller report MORE in the White House next year, Heritage Action is warning that there could be an increase in the national debt from new spending on transportation and infrastructure.

Dan Holler, the conservative group’s vice president of communications and government relations, worries that both presidential candidates have signaled interest in infrastructure plans like the one championed by President Obama in 2009.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Republicans and Democrats must reject this notion that the federal government can continue borrowing money to spend our way to economic opportunity for all,” Holler said.

“Americans cannot afford another four years of Obama’s failed economic policies —regardless of which party is pushing them.”

The “shovel-ready” projects that were the backbone of Obama’s economic stimulus package faced criticism for how long they took to get off the ground, and critics questioned whether the spending created as many jobs as promised. The $800 billion package devoted $105 billion to infrastructure, with $48 billion going toward transportation, partly in the form of competitive grants.

Holler urged Clinton and Trump — the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees, respectively — to resist deficit spending on “Obama-style” infrastructure plans.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the deficit will rise to nearly $800 billion by 2020.

Holler says the candidates shouldn’t use infrastructure as an excuse for more federal spending.

He argues that the percentage of bridges that are structurally deficient has declined from 22 percent in 1992 to 10 percent in 2014, while the percentage of vehicle miles traveled on the national highway system with “good” ride quality rose from 48 percent in 2000 to 60 percent in 2010.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the country will face a $1.4 trillion infrastructure gap by 2025, a shortfall that is projected to grow to $5.1 trillion by 2040 if spending continues on the current trajectory.

Reports like that have prompted candidates and lawmakers from both sides of aisle to push for more spending on the issue, much to the delight of transportation advocates.

Clinton has proposed a sweeping, five-year infrastructure plan that includes $250 billion in direct spending on new and improved infrastructure and $25 billion on a national infrastructure bank to bring private capital off the sidelines.

Her campaign website says the plan would be fully paid for through business tax reform, but does not go into further detail.

When pressed by Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday" about whether her job creation proposal would just be an extension of Obama’s infrastructure agenda, Clinton said Obama “didn’t get to do enough, and he didn't get enough support from Congress.”

“What I’m offering is the biggest job creation program since World War II. … It took years this time under President Obama to do something,” Clinton said. “We’ve got roads, bridges, tunnels, ports, airports, water systems, all failing, all being less than efficient in a time when we want to lift on the economy and take on the rest of the world.”

Trump has yet to offer a specific transportation proposal, but has been a vocal advocate for fixing the nation’s roads and bridges.

“President Obama has almost doubled our national debt to more than $19 trillion, and growing,” Trump said during his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. “Yet, what do we have to show for it? Our roads and bridges are falling apart, our airports are in third world condition.”

Trump has acknowledged the effort to fix the nation’s infrastructure will likely cost taxpayer dollars. He recently told The New York Times that he supports borrowing and spending in order to boost economic growth, a break from traditional Republican principles.

Trump even praised Obama’s economic stimulus package in 2009.

“I thought he did a terrific job,” he told Fox News, according to BuzzFeed. “This is a strong guy who knows what he wants, and this is what we need.”