What I’m listening for in Trump’s State of the Union

The reason is that hard-right special interests, which have dictated much of the policy in the Trump administration, have the president in a vise. They hate spending any government money, even on something as time-honored as infrastructure, and they apply pressure not to increase the deficit — even though just a few months ago, the president and Republicans in Congress gave away $1.5 trillion to provide tax breaks for mammoth corporations and a handful of wealthy people. Imagine how much more productive it would be to put those resources into infrastructure instead.

That’s why the president faces a choice: The hard right doesn’t want him to expend federal resources, but to effectively rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, he must.

On Tuesday, if President Trump chooses a real, direct, federal investment in infrastructure, he will have a chance to pass an effective, bipartisan bill. We Democrats will gladly work with him on it. But if he caves to the hard right once again and proposes a scheme driven by private developers — a scheme that leaves out rural America and asks middle-class families to shoulder the costs — he’ll have squandered an immense opportunity.