That “doesn't make a lot of sense,” since lending has to be repaid, and neither roads nor public transit pays for itself, Rep. Lipinski said. “All tax incentives do is make it cheaper to borrow for transportation projects. But you still have to pay that money back.”
What's really needed are “user fees” — taxes on gasoline or licenses, tolls on roads, whatever — and “as of yet” there is no sign GOP congressmen are willing to consider that, given longtime conservative opposition to tax hikes of any kind, the congressman said.
Ergo, when Mr. Trump introduces his proposal, “What it's quickly going to come to is: We need a revenue source,” Rep. Lipinski said. “I'm hopeful that if Mr. Trump will come around and accept some sort of user fee increase, he'll get enough Democrats and Republicans to pass it.”
Rep. Lipinski did not mention another possible deal that's been kicked around by some in Washington, D.C.: lowering taxes on overseas corporate profits and using some of the proceeds for infrastructure. But that, too, would require expending some presidential capital.
Chicago recently moved to make it easier to borrow. It's in the process of establishing a tax-increment financing district on much of the North Side to pay the local cost of rebuilding the Red Line north. But Mayor Rahm Emanuel also has been seeking at least $1 billion in federal funds to pay for the big Chicago Transit Authority project.
“My hope is (Mr. Trump) actually wants to get things done and pulls the Republican Party in a more realistic direction,” Rep. Lipinski added.
Greg Hinz is a blogger and columnist on politics and government in Chicago and the nation for Crain's Chicago Business magazine, a sister publication of Tire Business. A prize-winning reporter, he also writes frequently on public policy issues including education, transportation and economic development. He joined Crain's in 1996, after four years as political editor of Chicago magazine and nearly two decades as political editor and columnist with the Lerner Newspapers chain.