How Trump's Trillion-Dollar Infrastructure Plan Could Succeed

Former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith on the privatization revolution.

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"We're at a really interesting moment where public-private partnerships could blossom in a pretty dramatic way," says Stephen Goldsmith, former mayor of Indianapolis and professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. "If we have technologies that are highly refined…we can anticipate a problem and fix it before it occurs."

Goldsmith, author of 2014's The Responsive City: Engaging Communities Through Data-Smart Governance, was the recipient of the Reason Foundation's 2017 Savas Award for promoting public-private partnerships. (The nonprofit Reason Foundation is also the publisher of Reason.com.) As mayor of Indianapolis from 1992 to 1999, Goldsmith trimmed $100 million from the city budget mainly by requiring departments of the municipal government to compete with private companies.

"The ideas...frankly, were from Reason," states Goldsmith. "[Director of Transportation Policy] Bob Poole spent I don't know how many lunches in Indianapolis when I was running for mayor and after I got elected kind of going through A to Z on how to privatize."

Goldsmith states that one impediment keeping struggling cities from embracing public-private partnerships is a basic understanding of the goal. "[It] isn't to monetize assets," explains Goldsmith. "The goal is efficiency."

At the national level, Goldsmith says public-private partnerships could be key to making President Donald Trump's one trillion dollar infrastructure investment program successful.

"Regardless of how much money it is that Washington ends up [spending]… it can't be done effectively without public-private partnerships," Goldsmith states. "Both for purposes of paying back the money and for purposes of maintaining the asset."

Edited by Alexis Garcia. Hosted by Nick Gillespie. Camera by Jim Epstein and Kevin Alexander.

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