I have been studying everything I can get my hands on to understand how President Trump plans to fulfill his campaign promise of a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure , which I have previously reported is ambitious.
A formal announcement may be just weeks away, but when Trump unveils it, be ready for the stock market to add at least another 1,000 points, or more. This initiative would be on a scale of the Works Progress Administration initiative during the Great Depression, or the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System of the 1950s and 60s.
So far, the discussion has been little more than a hand-waving campaign promise, but Elaine Chao, in her recent confirmations hearings as Secretary of Transportation, gave us a glimpse of how this would unfold. But on the fundamental question of “where will the money come from?” Chao was very clear: The government does not have the resources it needs for a massive investment in transportation infrastructure.
In a note to clients, one Washington lobbying firm reported that Chao highlighted the potential role of public/private partnerships as a tool to promote private investment in public projects, noting that potentially trillions of dollars in private investment is sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be deployed in America’s roads, bridges, airports, energy, water, and other infrastructure sectors.
During the campaign, Trump set out a plan for the federal government to provide tax credits to private investors, equal to 82% of the equity amount invested in a project, to offset a portion of the project’s cost. These infrastructure tax credits will probably be transferable, so they could be beneficial for many investors, including major companies with overseas retained earnings that might be able to use the tax credits to offset the tax liability resulting from repatriation of that cash.
Until President Trump introduces his finalized infrastructure plan, the specific details of how such a tax credit program would be administered remain undetermined. But get ready to hear the details in the coming weeks, as Trump has indicated he will reveal his tax reform proposal, of which the infrastructure plan and the related tax credits will represent a major component.