The White House on Tuesday released a detailed spending plan for the massive infrastructure package that was a cornerstone of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Despite the plan's detail and ambition though, at least one prominent observer isn't impressed: billionaire Shark Tank host (and frequent Trump critic) Mark Cuban.
Among other projects, the plan calls for upgrading what Trump has called America's "third world" airports, accelerating rollout of the Federal Aviation Administration's NextGen air traffic control system, and replacing dilapidated commuter tunnels into New York City. On Twitter, Cuban charged that Trump's plan fails to take advantage of vital new technologies.
1)With all the dramatic changes coming in driving & transportation,Infrastructure dollars spent on roads/bridges will be misspent.-- Mark Cuban (@mcuban) January 25, 2017
2) We need to invest in infrastructure that supports and enables the future, not projects that tie us to a less competitive past-- Mark Cuban (@mcuban) January 25, 2017
Cuban also addressed infrastructure spending weeks earlier on his blog, asserting the importance of dedicating funds to the research, development, and implementation of automated systems. "If it were me spending the money," he wrote, "I would take 100 billion of the proposed $1 Trillion dollars in infrastructure investment and invest it in Robotics."
Trump campaigned on the trillion-dollar infrastructure investment Cuban references, but the plan released Tuesday would cost an estimated $137.5 billion, according to McClatchyDC.com. (The White House did not respond to Inc.'s request for comment on the discrepancy or on Cuban's remarks. Cuban did not respond to requests for specifics about his wishes for a U.S. infrastructure plan.)
Keeping up with China
China is spending roughly $3 billion a year on robotics, a number that blows U.S. investment out of the water. Additionally, Cuban points out that no robotics companies are located in the U.S. "That's a problem that needs to be solved," he wrote. "We need to help develop domestic companies much like we did the electric car and wind and solar industries. Even if it means trying to help pick winners."
Of the 50 infrastructure projects outlined in the plan, 49 are focused on restoration and repair work. One, however, might be more to Cuban's liking: The National Research Lab for Infrastructure. "Conceived along the lines of the old Bell Labs, this R&D center would develop and commercialize infrastructure technology of the future," the plan document reads. The administration gave few specifics about the lab, but says it will create 2,300 jobs.
Some of the projects outlined are already underway, like the Second Avenue Subway project in New York. Others, like the Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington D.C., have been under discussion for years.