Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again Hardcover Donald Trump (2016)
OUR INFRASTRUCTURE IS CRUMBLING
THERE ARE SOME THINGS so obvious that even Joe Biden can see them.
Take, for example, the state of our country’s infrastructure. Vice President Biden once said, “If I blindfolded someone and took him at two o’clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said, ‘Where do you think you are?’ they’d say, ‘This must be America. It’s a modern airport.’ But if I blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you’d think, ‘I must be in some third-world country.’ ”
The good news is that London Bridge isn’t falling down. But that bridge, which is now located in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, may be the only bridge in America that isn’t in danger of falling down.
Our airports, bridges, water tunnels, power grids, rail systems—our nation’s entire infrastructure—is crumbling, and we aren’t doing anything about it. Former secretary of transportation Ray LaHood knows all about this and got it right when he said, “If we are going to have safe transportation systems in America, you have to invest in them. We haven’t done that.”
He described our way of dealing with this problem as the “limp along, go along” system. “There’s no vision. No leadership in Washington to fix it, and they are trying to put Band-Aids and duct tape and other things on these fixes and they simply do not work.”
This country’s infrastructure is falling apart. 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. Barry LePatner, who wrote a book about this topic, said the following: “Since 1989 we’ve had more than 600 bridge failures in this country and . . . a large number of bridges in every state are really a danger to the traveling public.”
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. That number is increasing annually. 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. We depend on our truckers to deliver the goods we need, and they end up wasting an unbelievable amount of time because our highway system is falling apart.
I used to think the traffic jams in New York were the worst anywhere in the country; they’re not even close anymore. The problems are everywhere. Our roads are corroded with potholes. Our airports? Are you kidding me? A disgrace.
When Joe Biden sees it, you know it’s bad.
If you land at LaGuardia, it feels like the wheels of the aircraft have come off.
I fly in from China or from Qatar, and it’s as if I’ve come from a different world. It isn’t just LaGuardia, which by the way is finally getting billions of dollars to rebuild; this is a coast-to-coast problem. Los Angeles International Airport is an entirely different kind of disaster.
Our power grid, the infrastructure for electricity that keeps everything operating, is way out-of-date. There is simply no way it will be able to meet our power needs in the future. Our high-speed 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. It never seems to get better.
I wonder, 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, behind countries like Spain, the Netherlands, and the United Arab Emirates. Part of the reason is that 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. My home in Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, was once the greatest mansion in the country, but its previous owner, the United States government, had let it deteriorate. Nobody had the vision to see what it could be once again. I restored it, rebuilt it, and now—go online and you can see what I’ve accomplished there. We brought the property back to the greatness it once was—and then made it better!
The same can be true of our country.
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 (GSA). Many people wanted to buy it, but the GSA wanted to make sure whoever they sold it to had the ability to turn it into something special, so they sold it to me. I got it 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. The GSA, who are true professionals, saw that from the beginning.
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.
There isn’t any doubt that we are going to have to find a way to deal with our infrastructure problems if we want to be the greatest economy in the world. Our economy requires movement, literally and figuratively, and we need the infrastructure that can support and promote that movement.
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 has done it before and who isn’t intimidated to take on that tremendous responsibility. 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.
Different people might approach complex problems like this differently. There are people who look at a problem like this and shake their heads, thinking that it can’t be done. There is a name for people like that: Governor. Then there are people who talk about the issue, throw around other people’s money, and maybe even show you drawings. There’s a name for those people too: Senator.
For me, fixing the country’s infrastructure would be a major priority project. I was speaking to thousands of people in New Hampshire when a nice young man asked me what I thought about the project being planned to send humans to Mars.
“I think it’s wonderful,” I told him. “But I want to rebuild our infrastructure first on Earth, okay?” I mean, I don’t understand how we can put a man on the moon but we can’t fix the potholes on the way to O’Hare International Airport.
Where are our priorities?
Before we build bridges to Mars, let’s make sure the bridges over the Mississippi River aren’t going to fall down.
I love difficult challenges. Nobody responds better than I do when I’m told that something can’t be done. What other people see as a terrible problem, I see as a great opportunity. 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. I know what the unemployment rate supposedly is, but I also know there is no such thing as the Easter Bunny. 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. It’s so obvious that even the Democrats can figure it out.
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.
There are a lot of different ways to finance these projects. We need to put together a variety of sources to get it done. In some places there need to be bonds issued. The money is there—we just have to get it into place. The beauty of this is that every city and state has needs, which means that we can truly make this a national effort, controlled at the local level.
If we are serious about making America great again, this is where we have to start. Not only will repairing our infrastructure create jobs and stimulate the economy, it’ll make it easier for us all to get home at the end of a long day. And in this case we can make America beautiful again.