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Is Obama’s $50 billion infrastructure proposal just a shot of adrenaline?
The proposal would address “long-overdue” infrastructure investments, but new transportation bill still in limbo.
By Tina Grady Barbaccia, News and Digital Edition Editor
In a “Labor Fest” speech in Milwaukee, President Barack Obama revealed plans to spend at least $50 billion throughout the next six years to rebuild 150,000 miles of roads, lay and maintain 4,000 miles of railways, and restore 150 miles of runways in an effort to give the economy another jumpstart. The plan also would provide tax write-offs for businesses that invest in new equipment, establish an infrastructure bank to “leverage federal dollars, and focus on investments of national and regional significance that often fall through the cracks in the current siloed transportation programs.”
The infrastructure bank would be a departure from the traditional distribution of transportation money through earmarks and state formula-based grants. “I am announcing a new plan for rebuilding and modernizing America’s roads and rails and runways for the long term,” Obama said in his Sept. 6 Labor Day address. “I want America to have the best infrastructure in the world. We used to have the best infrastructure in the world. We can have it again. We are going to make it happen.” (For the text of President Obama’s Sept. 6 speech, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/09/06/remarks-president-laborfest-milwaukee-wisconsin.)
Obama acknowledged the hard-hit construction sector, pointing out in his remarks that nearly one in five construction workers are unemployed and the fledgling economy has been extremely hard for them.
“I know these are difficult times,” he said in his remarks. “When times are tough, I know it can be easy to give in to cynicism… But I just want everybody here to remember, that’s not who we are. That’s not the country I know. We do not give up. We do not quit. We face down war. We face down depression. We face down great challenges and great threats. We have lit the way for the rest of the world.”
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