The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Michael Burns
Representing the Right 

Keeping Spending Promises


Trump: Military Spending and Infrastructure

In this ongoing segment, Glasgow-based columnists Michael Burns and Alec Carmichael have agreed to square off on issues of national and international significance. Less a debate format than an opportunity to feature in-depth discussion, "Side by Side" will feature structured analysis of current events complete with fact-checking, editorial support and, when necessary, informal arbitration. To suggest a topic for our duo, write to

This year, the Montana Legislature has been attempting to pass a statewide fiscally responsible infrastructure program. Soon, the entire nation will be weighing the issue of infrastructure more than they have in 60 years, along with the respective dollar value of many other federal agencies. President Trump is assembling a budget plan for the 2018 fiscal year. At last week’s joint congressional session, the president reiterated his desire to fulfill one of his campaign promises of rebuilding the nation’s aging infrastructure. It was also recently announced that he would like to add an additional 54 billion to the defense budget.

Trump is asking other domestic agencies to cut spending from their budgets to make room for the increases to uphold his equal promise not to cut Social Security or Medicare. These additions have caused a lot of excitement among many on the right and left. Public health, public welfare and public safety are top priorities for the federal government. They aren’t abstract concepts and too many people are regarded as the meat and potatoes of government spending. Not surprisingly, top brass of the military and American civil engineers believe these increases in funding are vital for first-rate and efficient management of their respective operations.

Every four years, The Report Card for America’s Infrastructure is published by the American Society of Civil Engineers which rates the present condition of national infrastructure categories on a system of measurement of A through F. In 2013, our national infrastructure system was rated a D+ and in need of major overhauls. Next week, their new report with a revised grading will be released and is perfect timing for the administration to gain support for the Eisenhower era-like building of roads, bridges, levees, dams and other transit related projects. According to the ASCE, in the long run, these projects will give money back to the taxpayer. The report also states that due to infrastructure deficiencies, until 2025, the average household nationwide will lose approximately $3,400 a year in maintenance while the economy will take a 2.2 trillion dollar hit in business sales due to poor roads.

Trump wants to give the private market a chance to handle these projects. Through bid wars and a competitive market, he believes the American taxpayer will get a better bang for its buck rather than hand the work to the often criticized slow and over-budget federal government. This would add millions to the workforce and stimulate economic growth.

According to Trump, increasing the military spending would also add thousands of new soldiers and marines while increasing our fleet to 350 ships and adding additional combat aircraft. It is roughly a ten percent increase over Obama’s defense budget last year but some say it is still not enough. Senator John McCain would like to see about 50 billion dollars more on top of Trump’s proposal. This isn’t unreasonable considering other super powers are spending record sums to develop advanced military forces. China is spending approximately 147 billion on their defensive powers this year, albeit, about 400 billion less than ours. However, that sum is over a trillion yuan which has about a 1:7 ratio to the American dollar and the average income of a Chinese citizen is about 7 times less than an American worker. Theoretically, 147 billion has the possibility of developing the Chinese army larger than our own and Chinese-made armaments cheaper than our own.

Trump self-describes the budget as, “public safety and national security” firstly. At least somewhat related to defense, he also promises that of the increases, some of it will go to the initiating of the border wall and hiring of immigration agents. Currently though, he has framed it mainly around military building and infrastructure.

The budget proposals are off to a good start and can be leveraged as some positive momentum for the Trump White House. We will know exactly how congress will slice and dice the budget soon. The president says the budget and further spending increases will be outlined more fully later this month and in detail by May.


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