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Trump Talks Infrastructure In Ohio: 'Anything We Can Dream, You Can Build'

Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Associated Press
President Donald Trump prepares to speak at Local 18 Richfield Training Facility, Thursday, March 29, 2018, in Richfield, Ohio.

President Trump visited Ohio on Thursday to pitch Americans on his $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. In front of a crowd of builders at a training facility for construction equipment operators in Richfield, Ohio, Trump began in typical fashion—with a boast.

“I was always very good at building,” he said. “It was always my best thing. I think better than being President, I was maybe good at building.”

The President is asking Congress to put up $200 billion in hopes of spurring local governments and private entities to spend another $1.3 trillion on highways, airports, and other public projects.

"You will create the new highways, the new dams and skyscrapers that will become lasting monuments to American strength and continued greatness,” Trump told the crowd. "You will forge new American steel into the spine of our country. You will cement the foundation of a glorious American future. And you will do it all with those beautiful, American hands – powerful hands, powerful heart, and powerful American pride.”

During the approximately 50-minute speech, Trump said his proposal, which includes provisions to streamline the process for obtaining federal building permits, would “transform our roads and bridges from a source of endless frustration into a source of absolutely incredible pride.”

“And we're going to do it all under budget and ahead of schedule,” he said.

Critics of Trump’s infrastructure proposal say it puts too much of the financial burden on local governments and loosens important environmental regulations.

Rick DiGeronimo, vice president of a construction firm called Independence Excavating, said he voted for Trump and he’s hopeful the infrastructure plan will bring in some steady business. DiGeronimo added that it would also be good for the region, which has lots of old roads and bridges in need of repair.

Under Trump’s blueprint, however, local governments and private companies would pay for about 87 percent of the $1.5 trillion total on new infrastructure spending.

If that’s the plan, DiGeronimo said, “I would be skeptical of how that would be possible. I mean, I don’t see the cities and local governments being able to come up with that money.”

But, he added, any investment is better than none. 

The Ohio appearance marked the president’s first public appearance in nearly a week. Trump lost Summit County to Hillary Clinton by eight points in the 2016 election.

Adrian Ma is a business reporter and recovering law clerk for ideastream in Cleveland. Since making the switch from law to journalism, he's reported on how New York's helicopter tour industry is driving residents nuts, why competition is heating up among Ohio realtors, and the controlled-chaos of economist speed-dating. Previously, he was a producer at WNYC News. His work has also aired on NPR's Planet Money, and Marketplace. In 2017, the Association of Independents in Radio designated him a New Voices Scholar, an award recognizing new talent in public media. Some years ago, he worked in a ramen shop.