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Trump cites potential value of selling DC-area airports

February 12, 2018

From left, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, President Donald Trump, Vicksburg, Miss., Mayor George Flaggs, Jr., Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Neb. Gov. Pete Ricketts, Esteban Bovo, Jr., Miami-Dade County, Fla., Commissioner, and Wichita, Kansas Mayor Jeff Longwell, participate in an infrastructure meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s long-awaited infrastructure plan calls for giving government agencies the authority to sell off airports, roads and other federal assets.

The president is calling for divesting assets when federal agencies can show the sale would “optimize taxpayer value.”

The proposal lists Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Dulles International Airport as examples of the types of assets that could meet the criteria. Both are located in Virginia.

“Trump isn’t trying to fix our infrastructure, he’s trying to sell it off,” said Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va.

Trump is also citing two major roadways in the Washington D.C. region that could be sold: the George Washington Memorial and Baltimore-Washington parkways. Both are maintained by the National Park Service.

The president’s plan said the federal government owns and operates certain infrastructure that would be more appropriately owned by the private sector or by states and municipalities.

The plan states that the vast majority of the nation’s electrical needs are met through private utilities and that federal ownership can lead to “sub-optimal investment decisions and create risk for taxpayers.”

Along those lines, Trump’s proposal states that other potential assets that could be divested include transmission lines operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Bonneville Power Administration. Similar plans in the past have been met with stiff bipartisan opposition.

Former Democratic President Barack Obama had also broached the idea of selling the Tennessee Valley Authority, an icon of the New Deal. Obama said in his 2014 budget that selling the U.S-owned power company could reduce the federal deficit by at least $25 billion and “help put the nation on a sustainable fiscal path.”

“It’s one more bad idea in a budget full of bad ideas,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said at the time.

Trump’s infrastructure proposal said that agencies selling federal property would have to show how the proceeds would be spent, identify the appropriate conditions under which sales could be made, and conduct an analysis showing the increase in value that resulted from the divestiture.

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