Trump Signals $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure 'Investment'

Broadband is part of massive undertaking

President Donald Trump signaled Tuesday his infrastructure plan would generate $1.5 trillion in investment over 10 years.

The President's use of "generates" for the infrastructure is instructive. Democrats want more federal funding, while Republicans emphasize incentivizing private industry.

Trump did not talk about specifics in his State of the Union address, but in an e-mail during the speech, the White House said that "expanding broadband access" is part of that investment, including $200 million in USDA funding for broadband access in rural areas.

In the speech, the President spoke of infrastructure investment in broad strokes.

"I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve," he said. "Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need. Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment -- to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit."

The President made a brief reference to the deregulation he argues has helped make America greater. "In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history," he said. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been doing his part via a campaign to take a weed whacker to outdated rules.

He also talked about new trade deals and protecting American output. "We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones. And we will protect American workers and American intellectual property, through strong enforcement of our trade rules."

That got a shout out from Hollywood studios always looking for more help in securing their content in a digital world.

"We applaud the commitment President Trump made to defending American intellectual property in international trade agreements,": said Motion Picture Association of America Chairman Charles Rivkin. "Expanded access to global markets, coupled with strong IP protections, is critical to America’s creative economy, including the 2.1 million U.S. workers whose jobs are supported by the film and television industry. The MPAA supports the Administration’s efforts to foster trade policies that deliver American creative exports to audiences around the world while promoting economic growth here at home.”

"We agree with the President that more needs to be done to rebuild our infrastructure, especially by extending broadband to every corner of our nation," said TechNet President Linda Moore. "Congress should make funding for next-generation infrastructure a top priority. Investing in infrastructure is something that will not only position our nation for the future, but it will also create jobs and opportunities for Americans now."

"At the Energy and Commerce Committee we support President Trump’s mission to improve our country’s infrastructure, ensure the U.S. is a world leader in innovation," said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, whose Communications Subcommittee is considering 25 bills to boost broadband deployment, including holding a hearing on those bills and broadband deployment only hours before the speech."

"“President Trump is correct that a comprehensive infrastructure bill is an opportunity to invest in America’s future and create jobs, but not if it undermines environmental laws, erodes worker protections, and only benefits hedge funds and Wall Street investors," said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), whose guest at the speech was net neutrality activist Mohamad Ali. "We need $1.5 trillion in direct spending to clear the national backlog of structurally deficient bridges, expand broadband to our rural communities, eliminate the maintenance backlog for our roads, rail and transit systems, address our water infrastructure needs, and rebuild America’s schools."