Trump vs. Congress: Now what?

Until now, Trump has divulged few details about this trillion-dollar infrastructure venture. On the campaign trail, he frequently cited America’s crumbling roads and bridges. He bemoaned the potholes defiling the runways at La Guardia Airport, where he parked his two planes. During Donnelly’s visit with Trump in the Roosevelt Room, the president “talked about the Queens-Midtown Tunnel with the tiles falling off, which he would see on his way to La Guardia,” Donnelly recalled. (The Metropolitan Transportation Authority denies that tiles are falling off the tunnel.)

When I asked Trump for more specifics, he gingerly offered a few morsels: “This is something that’s going to be a real infrastructure bill, where real work is going to be done on bridges and roads and airports and things that we’re supposed to be doing. So it’s not just a political piece of paper. We’re going to do infrastructure, and it’s going to be a very big thing.”

Trump’s description struck me as uncharacteristically modest. Bannon had evoked a more gleaming vision when he told me: “Look, economic nationalism is predicated on a state-of-the-art infrastructure for the country, right? Broadband as good as Korea. Airports as good as China. Roads as good as Germany. A rail system as good as France. If you’re going to be a world-class power, you’ve got to have a world-class infrastructure.”

When I asked the president if his initiative might include such features, he replied: “Yes. It could, it could. You look at Japan and China, where they have the fast trains, and we don’t have any. You look at other countries where we used to be the leader, and now we’re the laggard. It’s not going to happen anymore.”