White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says President Donald Trump's administration is looking at a sweeping infrastructure plan.
"We are looking at infrastructure in many different ways," Kudlow told CNBC. "I'd like to do energy infrastructure. I'd like to do pipeline," the veteran financial guru and former Ronald Reagan adviser said.
The White House wants to use $200 billion in federal funding to try to encourage more than $1.5 trillion in improvements over 10 years by relying on state and local governments and the private sector. It also wants to eliminate environmental hurdles to projects and sell off federal assets.
"I'd like to do anything that will help LNG, terminals, shipping. We'd like to revise the U.S. shipping industry, which has been dormant for many years. We'd like to export oil, natural gas to Europe and to Asia," said Kudlow, who worked as Reagan’s budget deputy between 1981 and 1985.
There are early signs that European leaders would be willing to support the building of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, import terminals, said Kudlow, the head of the National Economic Council that advises Trump.
"They want LNG, they want it badly, and we're going to do everything we can to accommodate them," Kudlow said.
Fitch Ratings said in a research note earlier this year it could be “challenging” for states and local governments to come up with funding, Reuters explained. The plan “includes limited additional federal funding and lacks a long-term solution for the federal highway trust fund, which serves as the primary source of existing federal infrastructure funding,” Fitch said.
Democrats want $1 trillion in new federal spending and say the government must find new revenue sources to pay for crumbling roads. The U.S. gas tax has not been raised since 1993 and Congress has shifted more than $130 billion to shore up the highway trust fund since 2008.
Auditors say the trust fund will need an additional $107 billion through 2026 to keep pace with current spending.
Kudlow spoke at about the same time as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who also proclaimed that the strong U.S. economy's continued success depends largely on infrastructure.
"Corporate earnings certainly have been very, very strong. there's no question about that. And it's also no question that market's job is to look ahead," Ross said. "I think a lot will have to do with whether infrastructure gets the kind of treatment that it really deserves."
Ross, speaking at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit in Washington, was asked whether the prospect of diminished corporate earnings in the near future will be a drag on the economy. He added that the only real obstacle to passing an infrastructure bill is its funding.
"As you know, [the] president is very keen to have an infrastructure program, and the only real issue is how do you pay for it. How much does the federal government do, how much is done by [the] private sector," Ross said.
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