Shortly after the election Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and former campaign CEO, sat down for an interview with Hollywood Reporter. During the interview Bannon laid out his vision for an expansive infrastructure plan. It was largely disregarded by Republicans at the time, many of whom were still riding high from watching Hillary Clinton’s humiliating loss. Most conservatives who did notice were secretly hoping Bannon would be tossed aside as one of Trump’s many useful–and disposable–campaign shills. Unfortunately it appears Bannon’s idea is gaining traction.
The Hill is reporting that Mike Pence told the U.S. Conference of Mayors that Trump is “going to do an infrastructure bill — and it’s going to be big.” In their report, the Hill discusses a $137 billion plan that Trump floated during the campaign, which is already an exceptionally high figure. For reference, the Obamacare Medicaid expansion that has caused problems for repeal and replace efforts is only a fraction of Medicaid’s $300 billion annual federal price tag. While $137 billion in new spending is problematic on its own, that may be the best case scenario. In his post-election interview, Bannon advocated for a much more costly infrastructure plan, with a price tag upwards of a trillion dollars.
“It’s everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan….We’re just going to throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. It will be as exciting as the 1930s”
For those that were asleep during US history, the 1930’s were defined by the Depression and FDR’s New Deal programs, so it seems quite evident that Bannon is advocating for a literal Third New Deal. The first two versions haven’t exactly been praised by Republicans, with some economists going so far as to say they prolonged the Depression. You can certainly argue that it was Roosevelt’s pro-labor, anti-competition policies that really hampered the recovery and not his spending projects. Even so, Americans have grown tired of the big government stimulus approach of the past two administrations. Republicans took Congress in unprecedented “wave elections” because the people rejected this tax and spend philosophy. The GOP should stand for free market principles and the philosophy that the market, not government spending, drives economic growth. Instead Bannon appears to be pushing the President-elect–and the party–away from those principles.
Erick wrote a few days ago about the balance between supporting the President and holding him accountable. It appears this infrastructure plan could be ground zero in that struggle. As conservatives we need to hold Trump accountable and make sure he understands that Bannon represents more of Obama and Clinton’s big government philosophy that was rejected on election day. During the campaign we hoped that Pence would be crafting legislation, and Bannon would merely be a mouthpiece for the administration. This story signals the exact opposite, and that should be very concerning to conservatives everywhere. Start reaching out to your congressmen now to let them know we will not stand for an outrageous trillion dollar stimulus bill.