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Yet Another Open Letter to the Scarcityist-in-Chief

2 March 2018

Mr. Donald Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC  20500

Mr. Trump:

Yesterday your Secretary of Transportation, Elaine Chao, went to Capitol Hill to defend your infrastructure plan.  She argued that, through this plan, Uncle Sam will provide “seed money” to spur non-federal investments in roads, bridges, and other infrastructure projects.  On the very same day you announced punitive taxes on Americans who buy imported steel and aluminum.

Your inconsistency is astonishing.  At one location on Pennsylvania Ave. your administration expressed its determination to spur state and local governments to invest more in infrastructure, while at another location on Pennsylvania Ave., and at very nearly the same time, your administration proudly unveiled a scheme to unnecessarily raise the costs of infrastructure investments by artificially jacking up the prices of major infrastructure materials.

Do you or do you not wish to make infrastructure investments as attractive as possible to non-federal entities?  Do you or do you not wish to have infrastructure built, repaired, and maintained as efficiently as possible?  And do you or do you not wish to reduce Americans’ tax burdens – burdens that will rise directly because of the tariffs and indirectly as the tariffs swell governments’ costs of supplying infrastructure?

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030