« The Weeds

Gag Order and Infrastructure


Sarah, Ezra, and Matt talk about widely-misunderstood Trump administration efforts to shut up career civil servants, talk about infrastructure, and ask journalism's most pressing question: What's up with eggs?

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This, we support is also sponsored by Nature Box, gotta, nature, Baxter COM, weeds for fifty percent off your first order. The following podcast contains explicit language microphone check. One to what is this no idea! Let's have a low welcome to the weeds boxes, policy, podcasting, patently network, Matthew, Iglesias, joined by my co workers as recline and Sarah Cliff. You seem on certain about that yeah. Well, when you know it's knows, what's in America, all in a room together, so I know exactly what's up we were even discussing this. We are wearing headphones for no reason. No, we look like professor
of hard Castillo, when we were at the headphones dress for the job you want, it seems more technical. This way we have been lazy over the past week and did not read a white paper of the week within I would say we ve been busy. I don't agree. If you look at this sight, we ve all been raised its a new populist era. Maybe you ve been most people are through with experts whatever, so it's the new format we'll get back on track, but what we want to talk about two things that are that are going on this week. We want to talk about some of the big picture on and infrastructure. I'm excited about infrastructure data, make Amerika great again, it's great. I have alive opinions about this, I've gotta make a different than analysing data retention about about these gag orders that our panicking people
you're so we're talking here about the news that I did. The trumpet mission is basically told a bunch of the federal agencies. Stop communicating with public. Yes, people freakin an EPA specifically Epa was, I think, the first wine and in some ways the most drastic, because they also told them to put a halt to their grant making right, which I think we should sort of put up and he had no right to talk about later, but a bunch of other ones. I think age. I think what one thing that's been alone fusing to me as I don't really understand how widespread that's right now, and I think I am. I read some headlines. Today I found very confusing, so there was a headline in the having them. is that some sub agencies at age ass. I have said that they ve got in I'm kind of communication about halting or stopping at the public you'd. I restarted agencies Obama carriage at the Centre of Room, Medicare, Medicare Medikit services, they said I don't know memo that. If you look at the Healthcare Gov Twitter account, it is happily tweeting about her
eight Obamacare assay its assess it with our counterparts ruins of things out there. So I think what it thinks it's hard to know. Right now is how exactly widespread this is its helpful to remember. The federal government is a massive sprawl thing, and it sounds like if one sub agency at age ass has gotten that guidance. Other ones that run more controversial programmes haven't. So I would say at this point: we don't actually know the extent of how far these communications go. Who's got them like what actually there. mandate would has harder border agricultural seems like it was one and it should be said- challenge in reporting. Is that, apart from any question of like bans that that may or may not be in place like, I tried to call HUD public affairs the other day to clarify something, and there was just nobody there, which I dont think is because they ve been like put under some in
decked. It's just like the different agencies are set up differently and I guess there was no like career person, staffing that desk or possibly the queer person, as many have right now has left and right right, or they Quaid or Orangist, has a lot to do in a transition period and like has not got into actual political, is that it is possible not to know what it was like. Nothing. No, like no mess. You don't mean, does wrangle voicemail? Yes, just the desert. I think it's worth talking about this from a couple of different angle, and one is that the Trump Administration has come two, and we discuss a bit around our discussion of bureaucracy last week the chop administration is coming into each other, Jeanne situation relating to the federal government, which is that virtually every aspect of the federal government and the majority of people who work in it dont like them, and they also have not yet put in place.
the vast majority of that leadership team. They are doing a much slower appointment process and we have seen from recent presidencies this number is can be a little bit out of date, but as of mid last week, they had. twenty, seven of six hundred and seventy presidential appointments even just named, and that was slower than the pace we ve been seeing from President Obama from President Bush from President Clinton at at this point in the presidency's. So it would actually not be surprising, given the combination of a federal bureaucracy that has many cases varied from priorities, and they do that in many cases is staffed by people who seem to be some reading them a lot of the agencies, we should say have been sending out tweets about which I am is with, but how great immigrants are, how great Obamacare his somebody's seems like it's a lot
that aimed at the the incoming administration in time to the executive order. To this day I lingered seems like it's like a very clear it. It's not just. They scheduled these tweets during the alone restoration of the mixture, and we are not having your staff in place in these in these agencies and having hostile pupils to having these agencies. It would not be shocking to me if the trumpet ministries and put up paws on public communications, for they can kind of getting straightened out and while it is upsetting to people, I also don't think it is the craziest thing in the world, as met with Saint, before the show I think the thing we have to see what happened going forward right. Are we singing a real draw down in public communication entirely in the government or we sing a somewhat care the transition from a somewhat unprepared team dealing with a somewhat hostile bureaucracy. Wait I mean because, for example, if you said to the EPA hey guys, we don't have a new administrator firms? Yet soon we will. We have
reason to believe this. Like is not going to be a problem. Like he's got the votes he's going to come in as the secretary he's going to hire some subordinates. He and his team are going to have some discussions with you about like how does the EPA Twitter account work, What is your process for sending out press releases and then once we all understand like? What's going on, things are going to go going to go back to normal or they're gonna, go back to a slightly different process that the new leadership team puts in place. But until we can have those meetings, just everybody go dark. That's like one thing which is like we are trying to manage a transition, and it's not quite seamless. Another thing is in the new Trump EPA, no EPA scientists can commune
but the public at all about anything forever then ladder. One, it seems to me, is the story that people have written and its consistent. I guess with the text of the memo that were sent out, because the memo at least what what I saw you from it was very brief. I do not like have a lot of explanation and an context it and so on and so forth. Will you really will have to see? I mean I feel like if four months from the story is EPA, scientists have been told they can't answer questions from journalists about their work. They cannot,
lease any papers or studies? Then you have a real story. You know a disturbing story. I think we would have to ask some questions about what the legalities and and so on and so forth are. But you know you would say there completely subverting like the mission of government agencies and their doing it without any kind of like proper you know. New legislation will debate things like that. Some people have to talk about, but if you're just saying look they're trying to get a handle like the communications team so one example: we had right was the Badlands national park. Twitter account started tweeting out facts about climate change and its clover. Right because say you fire someone for tweeting, accurate information about Change, well, you know, then it's like you're the asshole right like everything they tweeted was true. We wasn't like weird. Little slanders against Donald Trump. It was just like facts about carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere
same time like I did. Ministration is entitled to control like the public facing communications that come out of its agencies. If Donald Trump doesn't want to talk about rising atmospheric carbon dioxide, it seems like I don't want to say. It's appropriate because it's stupid, but like it's within the realm of the kinds of choices you want. The present and people are there having fun with it, because I assume most people who have these social media gigs, even if they aren't Obama era, political pointy is their words and like a designated Department of Defense Twitter. When George W Bush was president, this will have been in position that was created during the Obama administration is probably staff by a young, relatively liberal person who was like excited about the possibility of using twitter to make things good, and you know, doesn't like Donald but the defence of our really screwing with them like this morning, when Trump world out his executive order banning refugees, they do a tweet from refuge.
To marine. U S! Embassy corporal alley. J Mohammed takes the fight to the doorstep of those who cast his family out and, like that's a great tweet, but like that's clearly like counter messaging, the new president, Oh, what do you want to add to what my was saying how could the long term picture looks? I think it's helpful actually understand what its like when journalists interact with scientists that agencies with folks who do research, it is not typically, especially open process. I have at least around in the Obama administration. It is typically not the case that, for example, right about lot of research are comes out of it are just that comes out of city see, I will often email the There are saying, hey, I have a question about their research would say, and nine times out of ten. They prefer me too, the communications office. It is not the case that in nearby miseries, and it was just this free flow of information between scientists. in journalism, the emancipation, and you know, understandably so, but like frustratingly so to me as a journalist, they I
I wanted to take my questions. The scientists they wanted to set up the calls on them. They didn't want me to talk to them and all I was in general, you know when there was a particular person had questions for the agencies were pretty good at putting me on the phone bay. It was all very much and very going through official channels. So if we end up in a situation where you knew I can't freely email scientists and they don't feel like they can email me back if they say after for your communications office. That would not surprise me, it's kind of the standard of where we are, and even though it frustrates music journalist. I also understand that, from an administrative point of view, so I think that not for contacts for understanding how things of work you know under the Obama administration, I think one There are actually be even more worrying to me than like a lack of communication. Saying no more reports is a lot of like alternative.
ports like you, I am very nervous and there's a great piece. Our colleague oven, Chang wrote about this, I am very nervous about what kind of data comes out of the Trump Administration, given what we saw in this like really silly fight about crowds eyes, which is a fight you can at least adjudicate with pictures and facts and, like you, see the pictures of the mall and who is there, but there are a lot of things you can't Judah with pictures. You can't adjudicate unemployment numbers or the boy you sign up for Obamacare or climate change figure, there's so much that is so much more abstract and actually liquid I would be wave who are worried about than no communication is getting report from Asia. Just today thing like you do premium despite our gonna spike, fifty percent in twenty seventeen, or getting like some reports that a very different from the data we have seen so far and that almost seems like a harder position to be. In than that,
No data is trying to understand kind of data that that you can't that that is more obscure act that you don't have access to. The original information in your you're trying to like make heads or tails of whatever reports are being put out. Yes, I believe that we are going to look back with incredible fondness on this brief period of the worst thing, bidding and public communications from the Trump administration was there a telling people not to publicly communicate the EU brought up the crowd size dispute, which is a good example of the other, isn't it saw. Spacer was asked at his first normal press briefing, whether Donald Trump Police, unemployment rate biggest trump has had a tendency of the past couple of years to see. The real unemployment rate is forty, two percent which is it is not forty two percent it is now he did there. There is a complicated way he's getting to this by counting on people who do not want to be working, but the it's just, not you and now its further. We not was the unemployment rate is. We rely on the government to pray
A tremendous amount of the factual basis of our discussions and debates in policy make We rely on it to a large extent, for, as you mentioned, uninsured summers baton, the economic data is produced by different government agencies, a lot of it comes out of the of economic analysis. Lot of it comes out of the Bureau of Labour statistics. These things can be tilted, they can be shut down, they could have unscrupulous. we'll put in charge of them. They can change what they report or how they reported to to offer misleading picture and energy analysis. It comes out of the of the government, we're talking earlier mad about the climate change scientists and what they can and can tell the public or we're gonna have at him. thracian that pretty avowedly does not believe in climate change and what kinds of analysis and over they're gonna put forward is going to be really interest and one of the few counterbalances- and I think, you're seeing it right now is the one thing they can
easily. Do is restock the bureaucracy they can put. Their political point is in charge of everything, but if we have any bork it isn't it. The civil service is stocked with people who are trying to do a good job, and it presumably- and hopefully we seen this happen at other times- have the Trump administration is out there trying to create a lot of misleading data and misleading impressions. What's going on that, these folks warble will stand up and will leave or will otherwise make what what is what needs to be no known, and I think is something you're single, but right now I think that if you're the Trump Administration one warning shot, it's actually being sent in these things. If the badlands tweets, is you actually can't trust that they be argued, he's gonna, take whatever direction you give them and ass such you? Can you know you can give them strategic direction?
but if you try to get people to do things that there really really gonna think unethical, it might end up a worse problem for you, then, then, regional problem actually was. I would also say for that reason, though, that if anyone is is listening and career staff, I winning urge people to not like, hello doors off I'm cute stunts. You know, I think it makes a lot more sense to like do your job pay attention to what's happening. Take notes, like save your memos, if you need to if things are getting crazy, surreptitiously record conversations unknown to us? You know we re, but then like go out with us, real story to tell not a story like I made some cute sub tweets to tweak the president, so my boss, out of me, and then they drove me out because an old
Organ we able to say is like well. I admire your spunk, but like yeah, you kind of got fired for cause by being insubordinate, which is different from like Ok, we were like putting the unemployment rate together and their words like orders coming on from down high too, like Miss State the data to make right, like that's a big deal, you know and like leak or go public or whatever, like with a bang over real actual examples of actual misconduct, instead of just like pre emptive, like I think, you're a climate change policies are going to be unconscionable, so I'm gonna mess around with you. I think it's it's funny. Like we all appreciated it to an extent like kudos, do Badlands National Park Twitter guy. There's a lot of national there and its it's more important. So like do your work and report on misconduct than to like kid around,
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stop. People from talking about data does not have the data in the first place. What facts you even choose to collect in the first place that people could be safe, these are being destroyed at or they could be like leaking to the press. I don't think I have like a great under standing of how much the slowness of bureaucracy does to protect data collection of you just have systems and I think, like bigger one, can it be harder to mess with getting me very hard to stop collecting data on the unemployment rate We to be presented differently and people who know the highlight different. Europe is in a way that might be a bit misleading he no data on how many who signing up through healthcare doc of like I don't. I don't really know what that at the last report. An open and Roman is now left to the Trump administration. I have no idea. You know if they're going to collect that, if they're going to produce than the way the administration, the above and had in the past three years, but that's when they have a lot of trouble kind of gauging what it might look like, and it seems
arguably a more effective way to support. Seen in the communication of scientists and researchers with the public would just be not to not have data You communicate about what I mean really concerned about this and and one way in which I'm concerned about it is that as a value structure, Donald Trump and core people around him or not strictly committed to the idea of collecting and believing and working with good data. Trump himself, is a conspiracy theorist who believes all kinds of Sir things at aren't true, and you can just like good unless he was a piano, he was one of the very prominent birth or is he ran around her campaign saying based on a grainy photograph, he's on the national inquire that he believed tat cruises. Father rough I'll cruises, potential involved in these acts, and he should have John F Kennedy you near. He has nominated a vaccine, sceptic and rubber of Kennedy Junior. I think it has to be part of a major vexing safety panel. There is a lot of things
hidden and trump himself. Who has long has long been a vaccine sceptic? He said that global warming is itself a chinese hoax. There is a lot the trump sent him believed which, just in in again in an abstract way. He is not somebody who is committed to finding and believing the best information that is not true for a lot of other people who run in government right in its true you become left, invokes on the right. They, ten gal just believe is a baseline idea that yeah, you should be collecting data, and then you can make some decisions off of it and maybe you'll come to different ones, and I would have wanted you to but but you at least believe in collecting the data, but the people around him also don't buy this so Steve Bannon, his chief strategist, I would not say Breitbart harm is a website that has evinced a real care with data and its journalism. I don't think they about that at all and vicious like not. Where comes from Michael Flynn, his new national security adviser, which is important data structuring information structuring position has retreated a lot of fake news over the earth and just
really absurd things. You know the only person in what appears to be comes very close orbit right now, I think, does come from a background where good data, prized scary cone. The national Economic Council had whose from Goldman Sachs but but the very scary peace around them, and then it gets even worse, because Trump clearly made his pressing I walk out on whatever one sunday and lie. There's lie about crowd such as they make of total fool of himself about Gaza. Saturday wasn't, yes, I I you know and shun spice better. He had seen pictures and there is an interesting piece by Teller Cohen, about the ways in which authoritarian regimes and other countries this interesting stories about the sum people go on a lie to see who isn't isn't loyal to the regime. So you, Look at in c I a grand strategic purpose in making people do things they would think are unethical or embarrassing, because once you do do them will have power in the loyalty and then you can call the ones who don't who be a problem for you later on
This is this is scary, and- and this is a conversation I just want to say it is a kind of conversation you have in very weak political systems. It is not the kind of conversation I would have expected us to be having in the United States. So I have like a little more confidence and are mostly thing so what one of the black? I'm that is the most. The Rome II, was that I heard that U S. Department of agriculture had been put under the guy gourd, It is surprising to me because Sarah was talking about the difficulty in speaking directly with researchers at at age ass. I am not a big time, agriculture journalists, but I have had occasion to call up some of the research there's an and economists at the Agricultural research service everyone's and while their interesting folks and it my experience. They are super easy to get on the phone their numbers, are listed on their papers at nobody cares embark as it is not a very partisan every political thing
so you can talk to them about why average turkey prices are cheaper in November, that than other times about. What's up with that eggs and and its great influence like imagine back going so forget. My fellow measure that was about eggs I dislike were actually let me tell you what the eggs they got it with theirs. It weathers there's a good. They ve got a good poultry economists, anyway, So it seemed like a weird thing together, and also like a thing where they do their work, not for the purposes of by occasional curiosity about weird poultry journalism, but because it is important in a practical sense to people in industry to have these facts right, like it's. A pleasure of running a grocery chain in the United States, as opposed to like extend is it. You have access to timely and accurate information about what's going on in american agriculture, and you can, you know, makes him too accordingly, so I said this morning that this,
I got a memo had gone out and then a day later, it had been withdrawn right that just they got some push back not like massive, like Democrats were marching, but just people were like. Oh no, hey guys like we actually need address to keep producing his reports. So you know you got it, you gotta do it and they did so. I think most of the government data that has produced has constituency that ultimately the constituency for that data is voice will be heard You can think of the exceptions of that, for that one of the things that that hide in the Justice Department do is they collect data and they do investigations related to housing discrimination. These agencies actually targeted Donald Trump. Personally, back in the seventies and a couple rounds of lawsuits, I think it's pretty clear that, like Ben Carcinogens sessions are not going to make this a big priority
and only constituency, for that is civil rights groups. Plaintiffs attorneys people who the Trump Administration is not going to care if it's making them angry. But I think in some ways it was like reassuring that when France by Sir, was ass like what's, the unemployment rate that he came out was like this isn't just a Bert Donald Trump, that that to me was a way of spice you're, saying that, like they are going to just miss, characterize the labour market data if they want to not like actually stop it from being pretty? but, like you didn't come out with any kind of methodological critique, he didn't say there was anything wrong with the unemployment rate he just like said trumps gonna keep ignoring it, because I don't know, Trump has reminded us that lying is a pretty good political strategy. At the same time, having accurate economic data is a pretty good economic policy and like we can just have I don't agree, I dont know if we will allow because, like I think, of the health data space there,
working in a lot of it, I dont think has as much of our constituents and I think, would actually have like a stronger constituent. mobilise again instead, like I say, go, there's a survey that the government runs right now the youth risk behavioral surveillance survey, the wire be assess, which I used a few years- No two right s story. They thought was really interesting about how teen behaviour is the best behaved in generations. I don't I. Think that's interesting to public health researchers. I think it's interesting to public health departments. I dont know there's like a strong economic constituency, but I think there is a constituency that doesn't like that data sat and it's probably- the folks who make cigarettes, because this trend is massive rise in cigarette use. So I think, ready to set that thing to our constituencies that want data, but there are also powerful ones. That would prefer that some data, not be out there and with ones like those in the survey of teen behaviour. It's one where I don't think it's like
one would say. We know that with healthcare to Gaza, we should stop collecting back as its politically unpopular to have this data out there It is one that they give. If your doing the thing gets run through CDC like if you're doing the CDC budget- and you don't really care that much about data, you Why are we spending a few hundred thousand dollars a year to administer this? And you say we we'd? What? What's the point of this? particular did, there's not a strong constituency and you kind of stop collecting at are collected in a less robot. way, so I guess I am less optimistic that the data being acted now that it has some kind of strong, can stick patents in DC. That's gonna defended. I think you have this opposite force working for people who don't like what data showing and would be happy to see a kind of just fall off the radar and how to say so. I think there's some places from his eighty illogical issues with the data right, epee being a great example here, there's a lot of data epee produces at the company ministry
may not one out there and then there's political issues with the data being produced, which is to say that their places where the Trump Administration is going to see a driving political ends. First in certain data not happening or other data being spun, indifferent way. I think Obamacare is a space here. Economic aid- I think, is also an issue here where the chop administration is a very big interest in seen as making Amerika great again and potentially things that suggest mark is not being made as great as people had hoped are going to be suppressed and while those things do have constituencies- and it may not be possible to do this because of civil servants and other things that would happen Desoto. I don't be too to see- big here. I do think the Trump Administration to go back to what you're saying initially about calling the agricultural con minutes. for the same reason that they pick up the phone You like able tabled eggs they. It's not a big deal for the trumpet administration and let that, where
whereas there are other agencies, potentially probably overtime, where what that agency does is. Much more directly related to the way that people will assess Donald Trump. Its answer We're saying on economic data that, like the conflict politically around the data, is that the real data shows that the economy is doing pretty well right. Trumps, fake data show that the economies and toil so of Trump wants to portray America as having been made great again, April, but he needs to do. Is stop life right and start citing the accurate data which I feel like we generate a lot of consternation among like people who don't like dogma. we like our man all he had to do to make Amerika great again with stop lying so much, but it's going to be, it would be, I would say, tactically unsavory to simultaneously with that start messing with the data right like
if you could just have it be like a high now. Everyone who said we have to like stand up Four normality in fact said: Babo Balikh. We all now need to plod Trump for coming back around reality and admitting that America's ok, then it's just win win win for everybody now I do think, there's a question right. Suppose we tumble into recession. Eighteen months from rail, is trumped gonna. Try to pretend that didn't happen. I don't know, I don't think we have ever had a president attempt anything along those kinds of lions. Typically, if anything, the rhetorical strategy, the president's afflicted by downturns tend to get is to say that, like we're precipice of the greatest economic calamity that like has ever occurred in human history,
Congress needs. You immediately and act all of my legislative priorities. That strategy doesn't work very well, so it's possible that, just like pretending people aren't getting late, would be better, but then also seems really bad. Like I remember the last recession, I mean I do remember economic data about it, but it was clear, quite visible. Right. Tell us people have lost their jobs at things, and I think it would be really perverse if Georgia be Bush had been like the summer, enabling like it's fine, nobody saw huts their job. fundamentals of economy are strong, but somebody said: but I was John Mccain- rightly, there was considered a huge gap nice when, even though what Mccain was saying was not like other you, pride couldn't screw with the unemployment rate, but but most I hope you're right. I think I'll settle things you can do, but I do think speaking of keeping the economy strong, you're a good time to move to infrastructure, the greatest of all topics, it's great During the Obama administration,
There was a lot of talk. I would say very vague talk from Democrats about how we ought to build a lot of infrastructure. This was because interest rates were very low for much of the Obama years, the unemployed rate was very high. It seem like it would be an opportune moment to build a lot of infrastructure, also. labour unions, building trades unions really like fairly finance infrastructure projects, because they typically come with butter called Davis Bacon provisions which mean basically that the contracts need to go to unionized firms. And so there was a lot of. We should do this. We should do this in republican Well, I no, no, no, no! No we're not gonna. Do it. Donald Trump on the campaign trail very, very vague. You just sort of said like we should have a lot of infrastructure which made people interested its popular poles. Well, he released aid plan
which was seemingly at odds with his rhetoric, which was basically to do like tax credits for privately financed infrastructure programmes, but he continued to talk a lot about infrastructure. You does it to clarify this look at it. He would say we're gonna spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure and then this blank him out. It's like we're gonna give like some tax credits that are way less than a trillion dollars like a hundred fifty billion dollars and TAN is stuff that people are ready spending on infrastructure is, can be counted, and if you put all that together truly yeah yeah yeah and show, as is often the case with trumpeting, singularly proceeding on separate tracks like Steve banning gave an interview after the election, where he was like he's in an odd way, but he was basically saying it's gonna be like a new deal style, W P, a there's. Can we roads and bridges, shipyards and Bob I'm in his inaugural address Trump spoke about infrastructure and and again he he spoke.
infrastructure in the way that Democrat speak about infrastructure like he called out rail projects as a possible use of infrastructure money, and he apparently has had his transition team get from the national Foreigners association, a kind of like every governors wish list project sort of thing. So in parallel to this chuck humor, who has long been one of the biggest infrastructure proponents in the democratic caucus, came out with a lead,
take trump literally, I guess, rather than seriously everytime you never get redress. Give you literally so is a bill to spend exactly one trillion dollars on infrastructure and then he'd slices it up into various parts of theirs like a water trend. I have just in front of me two hundred and ten billion to repair crumbling roads and bridges, a hundred ten billion to upgrade local water and sewage systems hundred eighty billion replace and expand existing realm bus. Seventy five billion to rebuild schools, seventy billion to modernize ports, airports and waterways, twenty billion on high speed broadband in Sub areas, hundred billion in new funding for energy infrastructure and good modernization, two hundred billion for a quote new vital infrastructure projects programme, though before the most critical national projects and then odds and ends. Yes, this is a lot of money. Trumpets started talking in broad terms the same way that Schumacher had been talking Ex of Schuman. Actual bill had been, I think, only about four hundred billion dollars
so now he's just scaled it up and I think, on vaccines, This is characterized as calling trumps bluff. I think John Chain has an article in which he says it's the opposite, and that Trump is calling Democrats Bob. I don't really know so. The so one thing this out here, just like politics right is like our democrats. Basically, that, like infrastructures, popular Republicans, blocked infrastructure, when Obama was president, but now will go along with infrastructure. That Trump is president, and so therefore, Republicans we'll get to say like have Republicans get things done when really it was just a republican start living basic question about those inside a less about infrastructure. When we talk about trillion dollars at Miss Structure like what is that? What is it scale or talking here, that's like a mind, boggling number like what, a trillion dollars and infrastructure by you like hers, I compared to other things. We have done an historically. Well, it's a lot.
Of infrastructure. Schuller is also using a very big definition of infrastructure, so wake as you would want it. Do you like a numerator denominator kind of thing, but like some His money goes to broadband internet, which is like I can see haste for accounting at this actually came up and we'll bosses confirmation hearings but like unlike roads, right Boardman Internet is like owned by cable company. Is we don't have like public data, like how much how much broadband is their raids. Not a government programme in this and what I mean. Obviously you can look up some information about it, but it's a private proprietary. You know information which was in their spending plans. So this is a law right, it's a it's, it's a very big bill, but is also not direct. Comparable to anything that's been done. The normal legislative vehicle for this kind of thing, the main one is that the surface transportation bill or or
often called the highway bell, but are also includes, like passenger rail projects, so this is huge compared to its average transportation bell, but are also ink looks like an air last one was like three hun. In the end, the transportation. Belgium is three times executive re, but it includes airport subtle over what time period is a question I don't know. The answer to hear guided does not seem specified in the Schuman draft that that he is come up with. and anyway so he's, including marine infrastructure. All kinds of other things I don't know is much actually about like the airplane and there's a two hundred billion dollar funding here, totally unspecified it just for vital projects. Yes, I would it's interesting is there's a big increase in the M Tiger Grants Programme, which is thing the Obama administration started that I have seen widely praised by Republicans and Democrats alike and that migrants walled like the claim as one of the under the radar super success,
at the ministries and in my opinion this is terrible, terrible programme that has Basically, what it does is that, instead of giving money, the normal formula grant so that state governors can decide to waste it whatever white elephant projects, they happen to like it, in vice local governments, to apply to let the Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Transportation fun whenever white elephant projects he happens to like which, while the old formula grant processes like pretty bad, this is, I think worse, because, as a governor YU at least have some interest in your project been worthwhile rather than pointless, because you have a fixed amount of money to spend, so you kind of might as well make the best. It, but here, like you, might not get any money at all right because its discretionary grant
the grand is being made by an official who has like no accountability to the local people. So, in practice, what we ve gotten is all these street cars everywhere cause there's some kind of street car fad anyway, but people love this programme. So a lane chow said it was great at her hearings. Checks humor wants to make bigger, but I dont know if I don't know means the monies gonna go to like street cars that have trumpery. So can I distinguish maybe a couple the philosophies at our intention here- one we just don't know what you want. Did you will do we don't know whether or not he will be able to get Congress to prioritize at Mitch? Mcconnell? Whose wife is how transportation sector will be transportation? Secretary said, infrastructure was not a major player ready for Congress, which is its Congress for Congress, speak for. We are not doing this rank off, we'll see if he's able to hold to that position or not, but basically what Wilbur Ross Impudent of our did in the Trump administration in the trunk proposal is created, tax
based programme that would incentivize both existing infrastructure, private infrastructure, development and a little bit more of it. So they do there's your leveraging private money, but only leveraging it for projects that you can demonstrate have a return on capital. I believe: a J r r percentage in Benghazi Tommy's, a ten percent return on capital. Is he made the point of if people have projects or they can make a ten percent return, they were to do them because it actually hard in the current financial environment to find it percent return, but either way what it means. Basically, when you set the bar that high is you're really giving tax cuts for things, people are gonna do already. And you're only giving tax cuts for things that have a revenue stream attach them to something like a toll. Road would would work really well under here, but something like Flint water pipes were not because it's not obviously good revenue stream and getting residents of an extremely poor wary of Michigan to pay
better water pipes. So what the Democrats have is a more traditional like. Let's have the governments spend a lot of money? We will have whether its tiger other decision making structures there might be big. The downside of that kind of thing is often Denham, not using South Dakota, specifically, but states like If you could often get more of this infrastructure money than you would expect this, because they have for their highly over represented in Congress, and you need their votes that happen and stimulus, among other things but it is a way where you are able to fund projects that are important, but are maybe not profitable for the private sector, and so you can imagine either of these in some contexts, proposals passing but the kinds of infrastructure they built to Sarah's point is really different. Write the kinds of infrastructure you would build out of the Trump plan, which is much less government money is user fee based infrastructure in pretty, I think, populated areas, although
not exclusively, and the kinds of in research you build under humor might have some of that too. But it would be a lot of stuff that it's just you know it's a self government does, and it doesn't. You know you like pay like a little fee and this by knocking to be new tax levied on it, but if it be able do some more like on sexy peril road. The people currently use her apparel bridge or repair a sewer pipe stuff that actually does need to be done. Yeah. I also think a big tension in this debate is like what is the problem that people are trying to solve, right, because this regulation came up in the fiscal stimulus contacts like just the unemployment rate is too high. Now it's been a little bit referred, dislike, even though the unemployment rate is low. We don't have enough light. Like manly man, work for blue collar people.
So, that's to say, you're trying to do a make work jobs programme for people who have some kind of tenuous labour market connection, or is this some kind of problem right? That's a one objective. The other objective is the country has economically valuable infrastructure projects, it would have like large externalities benefits, and then we need to implement. The lead is a good example of something that meets both of those goals, because the problem is often severe in economically distress. Community is but fixing. It would be a big help to that community, but would also provide.
Jobs in the cases of community, but with transportation programmes. There's like an incredible tension between these things, swayed if you're looking at rural Wisconsin, where good opportunity is have just become a little scarce, not because its depression condition Exactly but like the economy has evolved, is very cold. There. People are tending to move away, people may be dropping out of a labour force, it would be nice, the create more like activity there and in more job opportunities have more things going on. That's a fine idea, but that kind of places like exactly where they don't need, like a giant new highway, right because nobody lives there now where they could really use a giant. New highway is probably near Austin, because tons of
we're moving to Texas, this severe transportation burdens and there's new things that need to be done, but there you're, helping the most dynamic place swayed or you I mean it would be incredibly expensive, but, like another span across the San Francisco Bay, to make it feasible to commute for more of the EAST Bay into Silicon Valley right. That would be a project that would be incredibly expensive, but also have a huge pay off, but it would be local benefit to one of the wealthiest most economically vibrant places in the country. Now you might make a case for radical like strategic economic development case or like Washington, D C. You could use another metro tunnel through downtown that would be very valuable. They would. It would open up suburban areas for from denser residents, as it would create job opportunities for people
Can you believe that literally the highest income metro area in the country? So it's like? That's like the opposite of creating jobs and economically distressed areas. On the other hand, like Detroit really does not need a subway system, they have a lot of problems in Detroit, but they don't have a traffic jam problem because of all the other problems that they, when you try to do two things at once. It like sounds good at, like seven hundred word length like we're. Gonna kill two birds with one stone, but he tends to lead to really poor policy design, because if you pick a clear goal, in mind. Then you can really evaluate which steps will advance that goal. If you insist on doing two goals at once, you tend to just like throwing any around a little bit point Leslie and that's it seems to me is where the political sweet spot is like a waste, a trillion dollars and things that are not that useful and that also don't help the people who are most in need-
So do you see in the Democrats proposal again looking at all these different things that they want to put money into the gives there a thief their of like. Ok, we do this and I say that this is a trillion over decades. That's often stuff has scored like a theory of what is different about country afterwards, like looking through these programmes, they feel very bride and vague to me and like not very like a when the cures will be in a decade. I'm curious. I give you see you the stuff worth- and I do think of you- see a theory of what actually changes America at the end of it. I'm a bit of an answer to this. I think I think the Democratic programme, because is trying to do something a bit different specifically just create a Poland. The debate against Trump. That programme is really focused on repair and one of the hard things in infrastructure in Mount Poconos bit more about this than I do, but one the hard things in infrastructure is you have to
Still he repair all your old infrastructure, which is a very high value thing to do, but it's not very sexy, and so did I Point MAO's make a compliment to go at the political and centres of this kind of thing like what Donald Trump, I think would want to do. I putting aside both. his own staffers have done, and what the Democrats have done is. Donald Trump would enjoy every single city in America, Tabby Beautiful Bridge and on the side of the bridge, giant letters is Trump. and the way I know this is that has had tunnel job is spent his life with Scyldings instead, and that usually, is not the best Do there is all the super unsexed fixing of sewers and fixing of cracked roads and real? what a fine bridges and all this stuff that just like nobody really wants to do. And so it was done in the stimulus, but there is also a lot of focus on kind of big take it. Projects are very excited about creating a smart grid. There very excited about high speed rail, which certainly California, has not worked the hay anyway. It hoped
and whether to learning about lesson or just you know, Chuck shoe had seventy two hours to come up with a trillion dollars and infrastructures? But if you look at this, what I think is interesting about it is how focused it is on repair and we actually do have a lot of repair that could be done with those roads we know are being used that need to be to end, and so I think that would be actually pretty positive thing, but it to your point, it would not you not wake up on the other end of risks. I think this is what you're asking and look around the country until the basics, totally different right. This is a country like Beijing like airports and Japanese, like trains and you know, we're textile broadband everywhere, I think you to get up and looked like a lot of the roads that lower group. We should be in areas that one reason the herds regime there is that people aren't there that often now much better roads. Yeah I mean it would be interesting to see that, like fine details right one difficulty which
any more federal money on repair upkeep. Is that you know, if you imagine what the state of whatever Georgia is already allocating interpretation dollars not in the way that is necessarily like optimal for the people of Georgia, but that is optimal for Georgia's politicians if they get and in future g of new money to repair their roads. Unless you write the grant very very carefully what they are going to do is to reduce the amount of money that Georgia's spends on repairing its roads, use the federal money for that instead and take the money that's been, freed up to either build new things, because the governor is into ribbon cutting ceremonies or to cut taxes, because governments into tax cuts This is known like met members of Congress or not morons. It's worth saying that chuck humours wife used to be in New York City Transportation, commissioner, so he actually has a personal connection to community of expertise
around this? So I am sure that, as if this were to become a thing, there would be some concern about that sort of issue begin. If we were talking about the Obama administration, I'm sure they would have really long. Painstaking meetings about. You know, make continuance of effort and things like that. The Trump administration I feel it would not make the technocratic soundness of their trillion dollar infrastructure plan like their number one concern about it and, at the end of the day, crash would also not like blow it up over something technical like that, but it really would mad rang homes of like. What's this gonna look like from the country there's a big difference between taking a lot of infrastructure, maintenance off the backs of state government and actually increasing the pace,
maintenance, that's their this sort of text as it stands is a little bit ambiguous as to which of those things that are doing. But it's like the difference between you know. You can expand medicated or you can just have. The federal government pick up more than for it, and I think it's a little unclear what the kind of like signal mechanism there is there in the trumpet ministration, the transition at least was getting a sort of project. Wishlist from governors in them is, I would say, tilted more than you would want, ideally toward like stations like airports and train stations and that's the sort of classic like ribbon cutting by some people have right like if you open a new terminal of the Kansas City, airport, the governor and the mayor that can stand there and they could say we built this, and your name goes on.
black? Unlike gets, it's all done, where's if it's like you improved the signals on a stretch of the Amtrak railroad that curves through New Jersey, so the train can go three miles per hour faster. That's not much like a signature achievement, but it might be more useful than like a nicer. Train station, and so we would have a c. I mean that's on policy. I think it's wise to ask governors like hey. If we gave you a bunch of random money, what would you do with it? That doesn't mean it would be a good idea to actually give them buncher money save another question, since I must ask you a question about that So what this made a lot more sense to me in an era of high unemployment, when the theory was, you could give a lot of jobs out of the text of jobs that you were move that we didn't have in the? U s the skull sets could transfer over to infrastructure projects. How do you the theory of a massive infrastructure project in like an era of low unemployment an egg? Is one things like I wonder about as I can
This threat is where we get to the like trillion dollar infrastructure project. Unlike what do all these people do have like spent some amount of time? perfecting these skills. Learning these skills like, where do those skills go and like the post, massive infrastructure project economy? I think that two answers to this one. Is it you're you're right that I dont think you want to think about infrastructures. Stimulus anymore, which was the democratic order, for a long time, I don't think it's obvious that the country me if you, if that was the only reason for- and I think you wouldn't do it at this point- but what we do have is extremely low interest rates still, so that the world is willing to finance a big infrastructure investment very very cheaply. You know how they'll pay for it again to who fucking knows, but in theory I think upon not going to pay for it and if they,
to borrow. This would be a good time to borrow, and we do have these unmet infrastructure needs. I mean it is a case out of its literally a trillion dollars. People use a lot of bad data here. I have not seen anything, I think is really good people intensity use. These are poor cards put up by the civil society of civil engineers. Jirga took a group of people whose job it is to make infrastructure, and I was like what they would like to do. Is they get warm money, some, not a hundred percent that data, but people do seem to agree that we could spend a fair amount and infrastructure and we could get a return for an answer to your point there about what happens to these people after. If we made wise infrastructure investments, infrastructure is a kind of spending that leads to Morgan actively and not just more economic activity, and that you know you have to sell coffee two people building bridges, but that you actually have like more productive metropolitan areas and not just creates more demand for job and it may not be the exact same people budgets overall, improving
economy and improving. You know the efficiency of America's ports and the speed with which we can your transfer goods back and forth across the country. All that stuff does. Our does create overtime, economic demand. That would be good for these folks. as much as a trillion dollars over ten years sounds like a ton of money and it is a ton of money. It isn't so much money It will be like the unemployment rate will go from whatever it is now for point something down to it to point seven? It it'll be a much more it'll, be more marginal, I think still yeah, I mean I think it would be nice to actually like look at these things, indifferent bucket, swayed like this broadband idea. I dont know how sound the idea is exactly but like that, so like economic development agenda idea right, I mean if their areas of the country, where
is not cost effective for the private sector to create first class internet connectivity. We have to decide as a country right like ultimately or this place is just going to be back. Why forever, like some mountainous areas, just like didn't, have anyone living in them in the agricultural area or do we want those communities to continue to be like vital and important aspects, for Central America, in which case the rest of us are going to have to subsidize them through, for example, broadband internet right and that's a I can sort of both sides of the argument and is something that we should like take more seriously as a society and on all levels, because we have the post office is a big scheme to subsidize living in rural communities. but at the moment, is a big subsidy that also doesn't really help people, because nobody cares about the mail, and we should maybe do the four for very long term reason I do think a short term stimulus people pills
sometimes haven't in their heads that the government could just like round up a bunch of unemployed people and have them could build a bridge like you really can like. Might my sister in law is an apprentice electrician in southern California and for one thing,
You are unemployed in southern California and would like to get an apprenticeship through the Electricians Union like they have vacancies, but it is a year's long process and involves showing up to work at four f and- and things like that and like you might not want to do it, but they can't just like conjure, skilled building tradesmen out of thin air right. So if you want to attack the problem of working class labour force dropouts, which I think a lot of people do want to attack, it would be worth like thinking. I think, like a lot more seriously about like. Where do those people live? What skills do they have of? What would be a plausible way to get them a little bit more skill relatively fast, so that they could go? Do something and two to an extent like throughout the world?
now with the idea that what you're going to get them to do passes cost benefit scrutiny, because one of the benefits is going to be just like they have a job that their showing up, do that's good and and is still building, which is why to me it would be healthy to like really separate more out, like the question of what, These are the countries long term infrastructure needs, and these are the countries short term labour market needs both of those are difficult problems to solve and its really really unlikely that you're going to solve them. Both that, like the places that need I smart grid, are also the places that have lots of unemployed people who know how to build a smart grid that I mean maybe right some divine coincidence, but that that seems that's hard to me. Have you just want to create jobs for people? I think a great thing to do would be to give cities money to hire more buster.
furs and also to buy more buses right, because you can do that pretty fast. Every city in America right now has buses that sit idle for some of the day, because it I want to pay anybody to drive them. It requires some skill to drive a bus. I could not do it, but is also not like a year's long training process at the average person can be taught to do that in a reasonably short space of time. We have factories that make us They could run more shifts. Buses are made out of steel and other and probably not steal. There stuff. Just like we can do that by brainier. My page, not it's not. Guess super exciting leg We now have marginally more buses than we used to but like if you're, just trying to target the blue color workforce. It's like we have the bureaucracies in place to buy buses higher bus drivers to train them,
We can do that and we ve broken pet trump on the side of all the new, because it can be Trump and then a very excited. I mean Donald Trump. Sun could go start a bus, many doesn't by coincidence, inasmuch ass drag day. You know it could be great. They grew solve this. We only in Amerika great again you had to do was us into the wheat, which you should also share with your friends, family, Facebook, Twitter, email all that they are pretty serfdom. Shapiro. My colleagues about Iglesias and Sarah Cliff the weeds they boxed, icon and panoply. Podcasting it'll be next week.
Transcript generated on 2021-09-14.