Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Donald Trump shows off a large binder with highway-permitting documents during his remarks on infrastructure, June 9, 2017. (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

'Disaster Capitalism Disguised as Progress': Critics Rip Trump Infrastructure Plan

Experts warn president's plan is "blueprint for cronyism" that would let private industry run roughshod over people, the environment, and local governments

Jake Johnson

President Donald Trump has repeatedly declared that "Americans deserve the best infrastructure in the world," but—judging by policy blueprints that have emerged from the White House in recent days—critics argue that Trump is actually planning to deliver a heavy dose of "disaster capitalism" that will hand construction projects to corporate America while running roughshod over people and the environment.

"This is a plan for maximum cronyism."
—Corey Ciorciari, Democracy Forward

In a statement following Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday—during which he vaguely called for a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan—Food and Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter denounced the president's misleading rhetoric and argued that his infrastructure proposals amount to little more than "a giveaway to cronies and financiers" that will force states to cover the costs.

Highlighting a newly leaked White House infrastructure memo that calls for a drastic rollback of environmental rules to expedite oil pipeline construction and other projects, Hauter argued that Trump's "plan is to deregulate and privatize—it's disaster capitalism cloaked as progress."

"It's fitting that his address took place one day before FEMA pulls out of Puerto Rico, where people are still lacking clean water infrastructure and access to energy," Hauter added. "There will be many more Americans suffering the same fate if our federal government leaders continue to prioritize private profits over the public good."

Hauter is hardly alone in concluding that Trump's proposals—many of which were obtained by Axios last week—will benefit big business at the expense of Americans and the environment.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who boycotted Trump's State of the Union address, weighed in on the infrastructure plan on Twitter:

And as part of a new iniative aimed at tracking Trump's infrastructure plan and holding the administration accountable "for illegally developing infrastructure policy in violation of federal transparency laws," the advocacy group Democracy Forward argued in a report (pdf) released on Monday that the White House's proposals are a "blueprint for cronyism."

"Trump's infrastructure 'plan' is a giant hand-out to billionaires."
—Rep. Barbara Lee

Characterizing what is currently known about the president's infrastructure strategy as the "capstone" of his conflicts of interest and anti-environment agenda, Democracy Forward observes that Trump's proposals would allow the White House to:

  • "Award new infrastructure grants directly to private companies";
  • "Empower companies to charge tolls and fees on America's roads and bridges";
  • "Cut career officials and agency experts out of project and permitting decisions"; and
  • "Eliminate regulatory and legal safeguards that protect against corruption."

When Trump's full infrastructure plan is finally released, "what the American people will see is an infrastructure plan designed in secret by a council endowed with more power than Dick Cheney's infamous and self-enriching Energy Task Force," predicted Corey Ciorciari, Democracy Forward's policy and strategy director. "This is a plan for maximum cronyism."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Nearly 50 Groups Demand Passage of Amendments to Cut Pentagon Budget

"Pouring billions more into the military, far beyond even the level requested by President Biden, sends exactly the wrong message at this moment in history."

Andrea Germanos ·


Experts to Biden: Strongarm Big Pharma to Erase 'Moral Stain' of Vaccine Apartheid

"Every day that goes by, another roughly 10,000 people are lost to this disease—what are governments with the power to change this horrific statistic waiting for?"

Jake Johnson ·


'We Are Trying to Save It,' Progressives Say as Right-Wing Dems Sabotage Biden's Agenda

"The Biden agenda—our Democratic agenda—is at stake. It's progressives who are fighting to pass it in its entirety."

Jake Johnson ·


Bush and Warren Lead New Bill to Protect Renters Nationwide From Eviction

"This pandemic isn't over, and we have to do everything we can to protect renters from the harm and trauma of needless eviction, which upends the lives of those struggling to get back on their feet."

Jessica Corbett ·


Campaign Slams Vaccine Makers for Fueling 'Unprecedented' Human Rights Crisis

"Covid-19 vaccines must be readily available and accessible for all. It is up to governments and pharma companies to make this a reality."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo