-- Excerpted from "Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again," by Donald J. Trump, Copyright 2015 Threshold Editions.
OUR INFRASTRUCTURE IS CRUMBLING
Our airports, bridges, water tunnels, power grids, rail systems— our nation’s entire infrastructure is crumbling, and we aren’t doing anything about it. According to engineers, one out of every nine bridges in this country is structurally deficient, approximately a quarter of them are already functionally obsolete, and almost a third of them have exceeded their design lives.
Some of these bridges have already collapsed. Our infrastructure is terrible, and it’s only getting worse and more expensive to fix. It’s already costing the American people an estimated $200 billion a year in reduced productivity.
Instead of being at the office or in the factory getting work done, Americans waste countless hours every day sitting in traffic jams or waiting for stalled trains. Our airports? Are you kidding me? A disgrace.
Our power grid, the infrastructure for electricity that keeps everything operating, is way out-of-date. Our highspeed Internet access is only 16th best in the world. When I travel internationally, I see magnificent places you wouldn’t believe. I see properly maintained bridges, tunnels, and airports. I see great highways and unbelievably efficient power systems. Then I come home and I get caught in traffic, and when the car moves, it bangs over potholes.
Why can’t we get these problems fixed? The answer is that the people we put in charge don’t know how to fix them.
We’re spending billions of dollars protecting countries that should be paying us to do the job yet we can’t build roads in our own cities. We can’t build schools in our own communities. I’ve been to China numerous times, and everywhere you look there are cranes reaching toward the sky. The Chinese build new cities over there in about 12 minutes, while we take years to get the permits to add a dormer window to our own homes.
The World Economic Forum ranks the US infrastructure as only the 12th best in the world. We don’t spend enough to fix, build, or maintain our “plant.” Europe and China spend as much as 9 percent of their GDP on infrastructure projects. We spend 2.4 percent.
When you talk about building, you had better talk about Trump. There is no single builder in this country who has his name on as great a range of projects as I’ve constructed. New York City wasted seven years trying to get a skating rink done. I did it in less than four months—and got it done under budget. There was a huge railroad yard overlooking the Hudson River that nobody could figure out how to develop. Drive by there now and you’ll see thousands of magnificent apartments, all with the same name on the buildings—Trump.
Think about 40 Wall Street, one of the greatest buildings in New York City. For a brief time, along with the Chrysler Building, it was one of the two tallest buildings in the world. But it had fallen into disrepair. It was awful. They couldn’t rent office space there.
I bought 40 Wall Street and completely redid it. Now it is a classic—and by the way, 100 percent rented and a very profitable building.
In Washington, DC, I’m converting the Old Post Office Building on Pennsylvania Avenue into one of the world’s greatest hotels. I got the building from the General Services Administration. Tthe GSA sold it to me for four reasons. Number one—we’re really good. Number two—we had a really great plan. Number three—we had a great financial statement. Number four—we’re EXCELLENT, not just very good, at fulfilling or even exceeding our agreements.
That’s the way the country should be run.
Fixing our infrastructure will be one of the biggest projects this country has ever undertaken. There isn’t going to be a second chance to get it right. Let me ask you, if your own house was falling down and you had to hire someone to fix it before it completely collapsed, who would you hire? A guy who tells you what he’s planning to do, or a guy who has proven what he can do countless times before?
In America, our house is falling down. Numerous times I’ve developed project after project. I raise the money, solve endless problems, bring in the right people, and get it done. Those are four words politicians can’t use: I get it done.
When you are getting ready to start the greatest long-term building project in American history, you’d better have the right person in charge. You need someone who knows how to deal with unions and suppliers and, without any doubt, lawyers. I deal with them all each day, and I don’t lose to them.
For me, fixing the country’s infrastructure would be a major priority project. Before we build bridges to Mars, let’s make sure the bridges over the Mississippi River aren’t going to fall down. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that stimulates the economy better than construction.
A few years ago, Moody’s, the financial investment agency, calculated that every $1 of federal money invested in improving the infrastructure for highways and public schools would generate $1.44 back to the economy. The Congressional Budget Office said that infrastructure investments have one of the strongest direct economic impacts.
You know why that is? Jobs.
These projects put people to work—not just the people doing the work but also the manufacturers, the suppliers, the designers, and, yes, even the lawyers. The Senate Budget Committee estimates that rebuilding America will create 13 million jobs.
Our economy needs more available jobs. Ask the construction unions and trade unions how many of their members are looking for jobs. Ask the unemployed electricians, plumbers, and masons how hard it is to find a good job.
If we do what we have to do correctly, we can create the biggest economic boom in this country since the New Deal when our vast infrastructure was first put into place. It’s a no-brainer.
The biggest questions are “How much is it going to cost?” and “Where is that money going to come from?” Financing a project is far too complex for most politicians to understand. These projects require real-world dollars, not figures on paper. Experience is required to understand how to budget properly.
I think we can all agree, after watching our politicians waste our tax dollars, that the last thing we want to do is to put them in charge of a trillion-dollar rebuilding program.
When I build a project, I watch the money. At least some of it is coming directly out of my pocket—and if I do the job right, a lot more is going back into that same pocket. I know what things cost, I know where the money goes, I know who is doing a good job, and I know who is just phoning it in. Our government should, too.
On the federal level, this is going to be an expensive investment, no question about that. But in the long run it will more than pay for itself. It will stimulate our economy while it is being built and make it a lot easier to do business when it’s done—and it can be done on time and under budget.