By Vanessa M. Leiby
As I sit here writing this article for the January 2017 issue of WaterWorld, it is a day before Thanksgiving and President-elect Donald J. Trump is in the throes of interviewing and filling over 4,000 political appointments that will shape his administration for the next four years. His election has thrown the U.S. and even the world into a bit of a tailspin, wondering what his priorities and posture will be as he defines his presidency and makes good on campaign promises. While we have become accustomed in the past to the well-established political platforms of the governing party, President-elect Trump is not so easily defined or pigeon-holed into traditional doctrine.
So, what have we been able to glean in his first 15 days as president-elect? First, he supports a strong military; second he supports infrastructure investment, including water, as a means to put people back to work and strengthen the economy; third, he is not a fan of government regulation, stating that for every new regulation passed, two old ones must be removed from the books; fourth, he plans to repeal Obamacare and replace it with Health Savings Accounts; fifth, “peace through strength” will be at the heart of his foreign policy; and sixth, he will seek major changes in trade deals to further protect American workers.
While his platform is far reaching, WWEMA’s primary focus is on his infrastructure priorities. He has articulated his vision, stating, “Transforming America’s crumbling infrastructure provides a golden opportunity to accelerate economic growth.” He plans to pursue an “America’s Infrastructure First” policy that supports investments in transportation, clean water, a modern and reliable electricity grid, telecommunications, security infrastructure, and other pressing domestic infrastructure needs. The focus will be on U.S. infrastructure and away from the globalization agenda of the past administration. His goal is to create thousands of new jobs in construction, steel manufacturing, and other sectors to enable new economic development that will generate new tax revenue. In addition to a tripling of state revolving loan funds, he also plans to leverage public-private partnerships, harness market forces to help attract new private infrastructure partnerships, and use infrastructure tax credits. He plans to make clean water a high priority, developing a long-term water infrastructure plan with city, state, and federal leaders to upgrade aging water systems. He also plans to “put American steel made by American workers into the backbone of America’s infrastructure.”
Certainly, many of his points are consistent with WWEMA’s priorities, including promoting a strong business environment, sustainable funding, and scientifically-based, enforceable regulations that help drive business growth and the economy. In a priorities paper that WWEMA submitted to the Trump transition team, we highlighted five key areas. These include:
- Support the creation of sustainable financing mechanisms to build, maintain, and replace our nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure;
- Promote fair trade and the elimination of barriers to fair trade for environmental goods;
- Advocate for the use of value-based procurement practices to increase life cycle cost savings and improve efficiency;
- Support scientifically-based regulations that are consistently enforced to ensure public health and environmental protection and a stable and viable market for technologies and innovation; and
- Support efforts to invest in and build the next-generation water workforce of the future.
Only time will tell the legacy that President-elect Trump will leave, but for now, his focus is on the American people and “Making America Great Again.”
About the Author: Vanessa M. Leiby is the Executive Director of the Water and Wastewater equipment Manufacturers Association (WWEMA). Since 1908, WWEMA has been the voice of the technology provider in the water and wastewater industry. More information about WWEMA can be found at wwema.org.