Obama renews push for $50-billion ‘roads, railways and runways’ program


WASHINGTONPresident Obama made a new pitch for his $50-billion
“roads, railways and runways” program Monday morning, saying the need
to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure capacity is critical and that
American competitiveness in the 21st century depends upon swift action.

Clogged roads, airways and other infrastructure chip
away at worker productivity, Obama said, and the longer the country
waits to fix it, “the deeper our competitive edge erodes.”

Speaking to reporters in the Rose Garden,
Obama pitched the plan almost entirely in terms of its benefit to the
economy — though he also alluded to the politics of the moment, noting
the steadfast Republican opposition to most of his current plans.

In a “season of choices,” Obama said, one of the decisions Americans must make is between “decline and prosperity.”

Earlier Monday, the administration issued a new
report estimating the spending program would create a raft of new
middle-class jobs in manufacturing, construction and retail and thereby
help boost the economy. More than half of the new jobs would come in
construction, where unemployment figures are now higher than 17
percent, according to the report.

First unveiled on Labor Day, the plan
figures into the election picture for Democrats, who are under pressure
to show how the economy will improve under Obama’s continued
stewardship and theirs.

Still, to pass the measure, the president needs to
win over Republicans, who generally have opposed his suggestions for
government spending as a way out of the country’s economic malaise. And
a change of heart did not seem imminent on Monday morning.

If the president were serious about passage, said one GOP aide, it would have been easier if he’d held Monday’s event before the Senate left town to campaign for midterm elections.

“Because the November lame-duck session is all booked up, the very earliest the Senate could consider the president’s proposal now would be December,” said Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “And that’s assuming that the committees could/would want to act in time — a huge ‘if.'”


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