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.

'Infuriating Disappointment': Biden DHS Ramping Up Deportations to Haiti

"It is unconscionable for the Biden administration to resume deportation flights to Haiti, despite the country's ongoing political, economic, and environmental disasters."

Jessica Corbett ·


Architect of Texas Abortion Ban Takes Aim at LGBTQ+ Rights While Urging Reversal of Roe

"Make no mistake, the goal is to force extreme, outdated, religious-driven values on all of us through the courts."

Jessica Corbett ·


Ahead of Canadian Election, Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib Endorse NDP

"Bernie, you have fought courageously for public healthcare, affordable medication, making the rich pay their fair share, and tackling the climate crisis," said party leader Jagmeet Singh. "We're doing the same here."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Urged to End Drone Strikes After Pentagon Says Killing 10 Afghan Civilians Was 'Horrible Mistake'

"That was not a 'mistake,'" said journalist Anand Giridharadas. "War crimes are not oopsies."

Brett Wilkins ·


40+ NYC Activists Arrested for Protests Against Banks Fueling Climate Emergency

"We're sending a message loud and clear that the little action that politicians and greenwashing CEOs have taken so far does not begin to deal with the magnitude of this crisis."

Jessica Corbett ·

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