President Trump says his infrastructure plan is “largely completed” and will be introduced in two to three weeks. He also says that he is considering raising the gas tax and breaking up Wall Street’s biggest banks.
But then, the president says a lot of things.
A little over a week ago, Trump told the Associated Press that his tax plan was almost ready, and would be unveiled within days. This was news to many of his own advisers, who proceeded to rerelease the detail-less blueprint that Trump had campaigned on.
Trump’s infrastructure announcement appears a bit more deliberate. Over the past two days, the president has touted the plan’s imminent arrival in interviews with CBS News, Bloomberg, and the Washington Examiner.
Speaking with the Examiner, Trump evinced an attachment to his heretical campaign plan for a New Deal–inspired, $1 trillion infrastructure stimulus. “We’ve spent $6 trillion in the Middle East,” Trump lamented, “and in this country we can’t find $1 trillion.” He then sought to curry conservative support for new domestic spending by stoking fears of American inferiority.
“What China’s done is incredible,” Trump told a group of conservative journalists. “We’re like a Third World nation.”
In an interview with Bloomberg, the president suggested that he would be comfortable raising the gas tax, if the new revenue were earmarked for highway construction, a notion he described as “supported by truckers.”
Trump also told Bloomberg that he was interested in reviving Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era law that prohibited financial firms from engaging in both consumer lending and investment banking — an ambition occasionally voiced by members of his administration, but which the White House has done nothing to indicate a sincere interest in realizing.
So: Trump may be about to introduce a giant infrastructure bill that defies Republican orthodoxy. And he may be seriously considering breaking up the most powerful institutions on Wall Street. But it’s also highly possible that the president is just responding to reporters’ prompts with whichever words he thinks will sound good.
Minutes after Trump told CBS News’ John Dickerson that an infrastructure bill was imminent, the president said that his claims about Barack Obama wiretapping his phone had “been proven very strongly.”
When pressed to substantiate that point, Trump said, “I don’t stand by anything. I just — you can take it the way you want.”