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Zirpoli: If you believe Trump, I have a bridge to sell you

In 2016, when candidate Donald Trump was running for president, he held a rally in Wilmington, Ohio, down the road from the 56-year-old Brent Spence Bridge which is part of Interstate-75 that will take you across the Ohio River into Kentucky. I’ve driven across that bridge at least two dozen times in drives between Virginia and Minnesota.

During the rally, Trump promised the good people of Ohio that as president he would replace the old bridge which had been listed as “functionally obsolete” by the federal Department of Transportation and was in desperate need of replacement. Trump said he would take billions of dollars that the U.S. was spending on the United Nations to build them a new bridge. “Let’s save the money and replace the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, you like that?” Trump told the crowd.

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The folks of Ohio did like that and a majority of them voted for Trump in 2016.

Three months after he became president, Trump repeated his pledge during an interview with a local TV station, “We’re going to get it fixed. … It’s dangerous, OK. We have many bridges like that. We’re going to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure and we’re going to renew our country. We have no choice. The roads, the bridges, the airports, the schools.”

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Well, of course, Trump did have a choice. He could have invested in rebuilding that bridge in Ohio and dozens like it around our nation, replace some airports and build some new schools for our children.

These projects would have stimulated the economy, put thousands of people to work, and the return on the investment in new roads, bridges, airports, and schools would have been tremendous.

Trump did none of that. Instead, in his first year in office, he signed a $1.5 trillion-dollar tax cut, mostly for the rich, that left no money for anything else. In fact, it is estimated that Trump’s tax cut will add over a trillion dollars to our national debt. It will not pay for itself as Trump and other Republicans promised, and it does not leave any money to replace the failing Brent Spence Bridge.

Last Thursday, Trump returned to Ohio for a reelection rally held about one mile from the Brent Spence Bridge. When former Ohio Governor John Kasich was asked by an Ohio reporter why Trump had not delivered on his promise to replace the bridge, he responded, “He’s a liar. Yet, some of the suckers still flock” to him. Other Ohio politicians were also angry about the empty promise. “The president promised to fix the Brent Spence Bridge, to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure projects and to support American workers. Instead, we’ve seen a president who has betrayed workers,” said Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.

When the White House was asked about the bridge and Trump’s promise to replace it, an aide stated that they were waiting for Ohio and Kentucky to agree on how to pay for the new bridge and that the administration hoped that “an agreement can be reached between the two sides to fund this important project.” In other words, the people of Ohio and Kentucky are going to pay for the bridge; not Trump, and not the Department of Transportation.

This, of course, sounds very familiar. It reminded me of Trump telling his supporters at rallies that Mexico would pay for a wall on the southern border. Instead, the money is being transferred from U.S. military construction projects.

Fortunately for Trump, his supporters have very short memories or simply don’t care that he lies to them and makes empty promises.

Other politicians would be embarrassed to hold a rally near an old bridge they promised to replace three years ago. Not Trump. Indeed, he held his rally and told his supporters — wait for it — that if they would just reelect him, he would get them that new bridge he promised three years ago. “If we win this election, which is just 16 months away,” Trump told them, “we’re giving you a brand new bridge. We’ll have it all set to go day one, right after the election.”

And they all cheered.

Trump supporters like to say that “he tells it like it is.” Does he really? Because if you believe that Trump is going to give Ohio “a brand new bridge” and that he has “it all set to go day one, right after the election,” then you probably believe that China is paying for Trump’s tariffs, Mexico is paying for Trump’s wall, and I have a bridge in Ohio to sell to you.

Tom Zirpoli writes from Westminster. He is program coordinator of the Human Services Management graduate program at McDaniel College. His column appears Wednesdays. E-mail him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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