Dallas Hopes for Windfall in Trump's $1 Trillion Infrastructure Pledge, But Details Remain Fuzzy

WASHINGTON — The prospect of a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure by the Trump administration has Texas officials eager to learn more.Where will the money come from? How will projects be vetted and prioritized?"We're the ninth-largest city in the country. Dallas-Fort Worth is the fourth-largest market. Tens of billions of dollars should be flowing our way," said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. "That's our Christmas list. Santa Claus asked what we want. We need to see if Santa Claus really exists."President-elect Donald Trump's infrastructure vision has been bold but vague. Congress approved a five-year, $305 billion transportation bill last year. It's unclear if the $1 trillion would represent new spending. In concept, lawmakers in both parties embrace tunnels, bridges, highways, water projects, rail lines, electric grid upgrades and other projects big and small. But financing has always been a sticking point.One possible mechanism would be a one-time tax break for multinational corporations with profits parked overseas. Repatriation of those funds could yield $1 trillion over 10 years. But many Republicans in Congress prefer to use the windfall for tax relief rather than spending. Among them is House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, whose panel controls tax policy.Another possibility would be a public-private "infrastructure bank." Trump's views aren't clear on that approach.His website still derides Hillary Clinton's proposal for "a massive $275 billion tax increase on American businesses to help fund an `infrastructure bank' that is controlled by politicians and bureaucrats in Washington DC." But Trump's pick for treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, said two weeks ago that Trump is "looking at the creation of an infrastructure bank to fund infrastructure investments."As a senator from Texas, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison proposed such a bank in 2011, along with Democratic Sens. John Kerry — now secretary of state — and Mark Warner, and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. The idea was that public and private funds would seed the bank, with repayments allowing a revolving fund to finance more and more projects."People would really like to invest here, which would mean job creation," Hutchison said Monday. "That's where the bank had a lot of promise, because the revenue stream would help a city that couldn't find an investor to expand its water system, for instance."She and Rawlings were at a conference held by No Labels, a group devoted to beefing up the political center and finding common ground to solve problems. Hutchison is a co-chairwoman. The group announced a $50 million super PAC this week to promote centrist congressional candidates in 2018.The federal government pumped $880 million into hundreds of North Texas projects during the first six years of the stimulus program enacted under President Barack Obama. In all, the Obama-era stimulus involved about $840 billion.  Continue reading...

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