During a White House event on Monday, President Trump bragged about the role he played in the construction of an ice rink in Central Park, and claimed that project is “really no different with a bridge or tunnel or any of the things” he intends to fix as part of his infrastructure plan for the entire country.
“When I did the Wollman Rink, it was seven years, they couldn’t get it built, it would’ve been forever, they couldn’t get it built, and I did it in a few months at a much smaller price,” Trump said. “It took many years and they were unable to open it, and I said, you know, I’d like to be able to have my daughter Ivanka, who is with us, I’d like to be able to have her have ice skating sometime before she doesn’t want to ice skate, and I got involved, and we did it in a few months, and we did it for a tiny fraction, a tiny fraction of the cost, and it’s really no different with a roadway or tunnel or any of the things that we’ll be fixing.”
Trump is overlooking one major difference, however, among the many potential differences between one ice rink and thousands of large-scale infrastructure projects: Chiefly, people die when bridges (or tunnels) aren’t built properly, while the stakes are much lower with ice rinks. Another difference is that unlike the Central Park rink, Trump isn’t planning on personally managing various infrastructure projects to make sure they’re built as cheaply as possible.
But a number of GOP elected officials are apparently on board with cheap construction, ignoring the safety concerns involved in building major infrastructure projects with less regulatory oversight, and instead touting the cost savings. For instance, during a Fox & Friends interview on Monday, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) said “there is no reason why it should take 10 years to get a permit to built some of these projects — it jacks up the cost of road projects. By shortening the permit process you actually save a lot of money, billions of dollars on some of these big projects.”
During his State of the Union speech, Trump cited construction of the Empire State Building as a example of the sort of process he’d like to return to.
“America is a nation of builders,” Trump said. “We built the Empire State Building in just one year. Isn’t it a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a minor permit approved for the building of a simple road?”
Trump did not mention at least five workers died during the Empire State Building’s construction.