All posts in category Infrastructure
Political Musings January 6, 2015: 114th Congress convenes: Boehner reelected Speaker McConnell new Senate Majority Leader
Posted by bonniekgoodman on January 6, 2015
Political Musings August 4, 2014: Highway Trust Fund bill passes the Senate ends unemployment extension funding
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
OP-EDS & ARTICLES
Posted by bonniekgoodman on August 4, 2014
Political Musings July 21, 2014: GOP highway fund bill takes away funding from unemployment benefits extension
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
OP-EDS & ARTICLES
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 21, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency July 17, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech on the Economy and on the Malaysia Airlines Jet Shot Down Over Ukraine
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President on the Economy — Wilmington, DE
Source: WH, 7-17-14
Watch the Video
Port of Wilmington
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody! (Applause.) Everybody, please have a seat. Please have a seat. It is wonderful to be back in Delaware.
Before I begin, obviously the world is watching reports of a downed passenger jet near the Russia-Ukraine border. And it looks like it may be a terrible tragedy. Right now, we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens onboard. That is our first priority. And I’ve directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government. The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why. And as a country, our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.
I want to thank Jeremie for that introduction. Give Jeremie a big round of applause. (Applause.) It is great to be in the state that gave us Joe Biden. (Applause.) We’ve got actually some better-looking Bidens with us here today. (Laughter.) We’ve got Beau and his wife, Hallie, are here. Give them a big round of applause. We love them. (Applause.) We’ve got Governor Jack Markell. (Applause.) Senator Chris Coons, Congressman John Carney, County Executive Tom Gordon, and the Mayor of Wilmington, Dennis Williams. (Applause.) We’ve also got two terrific members of my Cabinet — Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is here — (applause) — and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is here. (Applause.)
Jack Lew’s signature is actually on your money. (Laughter.) Although it’s kind of illegible. We teased him when he first became Treasury Secretary that he was going to have to fix his signature a little bit because it looked just like a caterpillar running along the bottom. (Laughter.)
Now, the bridge behind me used to carry 90,000 cars every day — 90,000. Since last month, it’s been closed for repairs. Once workers are done repairing it, this bridge will be safer, it will be more reliable for commuters and for commerce. And thanks to a competitive grant program called TIGER — a program, by the way, that was part of the Recovery Act that we initiated when I first came into office and Joe Biden helped to manage — this port is rebuilding a wharf that will finally let Wilmington compete with other ports for the biggest cargo ships. (Applause.) For the biggest cargo ships. So far, TIGER grants have given a boost to 270 infrastructure projects and thousands of jobs all across 50 states.
And that’s what I’m here to talk about today — and I’ve been talking about this all week — creating more good jobs rebuilding America, and the opportunity that we have to seize to rebuild the American middle class.
After the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, in part because of the actions we took, primarily because of the strength and determination of the American people, our businesses have now added nearly 10 million new jobs over the past 52 months. (Applause.) Construction and housing are rebounding. The auto industry is booming — it was in a tailspin when we came in. Manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point since September of 2008 — which is one of the fastest one-year drops in nearly 30 years. (Applause.)
And the decisions we made — not only to rescue our economy, but to start rebuilding it on a firmer foundation — those decisions are starting to pay off. We are more energy independent. For the first time in nearly 20 years, we produce more oil here in the United States than we buy from abroad. First time in 20 years we’re doing that. (Applause.)
At the same time, we’re actually reducing our carbon pollution, and we’re creating new jobs in clean and renewable energies — three times as much wind power; 10 times as much solar power.
In education, our high school graduation rate is at a record high. More young people are earning college degrees than ever before. 401(k)s are growing. Fewer homes are underwater. Millions more now have the peace of mind of having quality, affordable health care if they need it. And the deficit is coming down to boot, been cut more than half. (Applause.)
So by almost every economic measure, we’re doing a whole lot better now than we were when I came into office. And as I said, most of it is thanks to you, the resilience and the resolve of the American people. Because of that we’ve recovered faster and come farther than almost any other advanced country on Earth. And business leaders, for the first time in a decade, around the world are saying that China is not the best place to invest; the United States of America is the most promising place to invest.
So we’ve got this huge opportunity to keep this momentum going, to keep growing the economy, but also to make sure that growth is broadly shared. We got to make sure we’re creating not just more jobs, but also raising middle-class wages and incomes, and making it easier for folks, if they’re working hard and doing the right thing, to raise a family.
We got to make sure that we’re not just graduating more kids, we’ve got to also train more workers and make college more affordable. We got to make sure our economy works for every American. That’s why I ran for President. That’s what I’m focused on every day. And this is more than just some fleeting political story or made-up scandal; this is the challenge of our times — making sure that if you work hard and you’re responsible, anybody can get ahead in this country. That’s what America is about. And we can achieve that if we just see a few changes in Washington’s priorities.
So, today, I’m here to talk about just one example: creating good jobs of the sort that Jeremie just talked about — good jobs rebuilding America. We know that in the 21st century economy, businesses are going to set up shop wherever they find the best roads, the best bridges, the fastest Internet connection, the fastest rail lines, the smartest airports, the best power grid. First-class infrastructure attracts investment and it creates first-class jobs. Unfortunately, right now, our investment in transportation lags behind a lot of other countries. China is doing more. Germany is doing more. They’re putting money back into building the infrastructure we need to grow over the long term.
And if Washington were working the way it was supposed to, Congress would be creating jobs right now, jobs just like Jeremie talked about — jobs like these guys in the hard hats are doing right now rebuilding bridges and roads and airports and ports all across the country. (Applause.) It helps us now and it helps up create jobs tomorrow. That’s what we should be doing.
But instead of creating jobs rebuilding our infrastructure in a predictable, sustainable way, the debate in Washington lately has been about something called the Highway Trust Fund. It’s how America is supposed to support states on transportation projects. Congress has to keep it funded, otherwise states have to put projects on hold, put construction workers back on the unemployment line.
The good news is, Democrats and Republicans are about to pass a short-term fix that will keep funding going for about another nine or ten months. And I support that. I mean, the least we can do is just support the jobs that are already there, keep Americans on the job. But if that’s all Congress does, then we’re going to have the same kind of funding crisis nine months from now. And that’s not how normally you fund infrastructure, because you got to plan it and you got to think about how are we helping folks and how are we helping states and cities and municipalities create plans for the future and make sure that the funding streams are level. We don’t need unhelpful and unnecessary deadlines that crunch a few months from now. And we shouldn’t have been this close to the deadline in the first place.
As your governor has pointed, even smaller transportation projects can take years to design and plan and build. A few months of funding doesn’t cut it. And so Jack said, “To call this a Band-Aid is an insult to a Band-Aid.” That’s a pretty good line. (Laughter.) I’m going to have to try that out. (Applause.)
So Congress shouldn’t be too proud. It shouldn’t pat itself on the back for kicking the can down the road every few months. Instead of barely paying our bills in the present, we should be planning and investing in our future. That’s how the economy grows for everybody. The American people work hard every single day, and your efforts shouldn’t be threatened every few months by a manufactured crisis in Washington. Everything doesn’t have to be done at the last minute every time.
So what I’ve done is earlier this year put forward a plan to rebuild our transportation infrastructure in a long-term responsible way, a plan that would support millions of jobs, would give cities and states and private investors the certainty they need to hire more workers faster. It would help small businesses ship their goods faster. It would help parents get home from their commute faster so they can see their kids.
And it wouldn’t add to what is already a rapidly shrinking deficit because we pay for it in part by closing loopholes for companies that are shipping profits overseas and are avoiding paying their fair share of taxes. So that’s what we need, a broad-based plan. We got $2 trillion worth of deferred maintenance in this country in roads and bridges and sewer systems and water mains. And we could put a lot of people back to work right now getting that done. And we’re going to have to do it eventually anyway.
But so far, Congress has refused to act on the idea — which is strange because infrastructure should not be a partisan issue. If you think about it, it was a Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, who built the Interstate Highway System. Lincoln built the Transcontinental Railroad. Both parties historically have understood that investing in this country for the long run pays off. When we invest in infrastructure we’re making sure that the economy is growing not just for the next five years, but for another century. That’s what right now Republicans in Congress don’t seem to be focused on. But until they do get focused on it, I’m going to do whatever I can to create jobs rebuilding America on my own. (Applause.)
So today, we’re launching what we call the Build America Investment Initiative. And as part of it, we’re creating a one-stop shop for cities and states looking to partner with the private sector to fund infrastructure projects. There are lots of investors who want to back infrastructure projects because, when it’s done right, they then get a steady, long-term investment. They get a steady return.
And lots of states and local governments would welcome more private investment, but they need a partner in the federal government to help do some matchmaking and work through some of the complexities of private financing of infrastructure. So my administration is going to help states and cities apply for federal loans, get more public-private partnerships up and running, get more investment flowing into communities like Wilmington.
And this builds on other actions we’ve taken to speed up the permitting process for big projects, and attract new manufacturing jobs to America, and raise more workers’ wages, help women fight for fair pay, ease loan burdens for millions of students. We’re taking steps on our own, still hoping that Congress at some point actually does something. (Applause.)
I keep hearing from folks all across the country who tell me if members of Congress have the same priorities that most Americans do, if they felt the same sense of urgency that you feel in your own lives, we could help a lot of families right now.
Instead of playing politics, we should be creating jobs by investing in what makes our economy strong -– infrastructure and manufacturing and energy, and research and development, and education. All these things lead to new industries.
We should be training our workers to fill new jobs. We should be preparing our kids to face global competition. We should be making sure that hard work pays off with a higher minimum wage.
We should be seizing these opportunities. And there’s a simple principle behind it. When the middle class does good, and when people have ladders into the middle class if they work hard, everybody does better. You have more customers for businesses. Folks at the very top do better. America grows best from the middle out, not from the top down. That’s when we succeed.
So I’m going to keep on looking for areas where Republicans and Democrats agree to move this country forward. But I’m not going to stand by when politics and inaction are holding us back. (Applause.)
Wherever and whenever I have a chance to help families like yours I’m going to do it. When I have a chance to help communities like Wilmington, I’m going to do it. That’s when my administration takes these executive actions, when Congress won’t act.
And so far, the only response we’ve gotten from the Republicans is a lawsuit. (Laughter.) They’re suing me for doing my job, instead of going ahead and doing their job. That’s disappointing. It’s a political stunt. And, by the way, they’re using taxpayer money to do it. It’s your money that they’re wasting on this, which no serious lawyers think makes any sense. It’s just a political stunt. We could be spending the time, energy, and effort and money to help your families.
And maybe the folks behind this think it will help them politically. I guarantee you, it’s not helping you. We could do so much more if we rally around a sense of patriotism that says we can disagree on issues once in a while, but come on, let’s focus on our country, let’s focus on our people — a sense of common purpose, the understanding we rise or fall as one nation and as one people. That’s how we built this country together. And that’s what Washington has to remember.
And the one thing I know for certain — if we work together, if we believe in one another, then we’re going to keep on rebuilding our middle class. We’re going to restore the American Dream for the next generation. We will continue to make sure that America is the place where no matter what you look like, or where you come from, or how you started, you can make it if you try. You’ve shown it here in Delaware. We can show it all across the country. We just need a little more focus in Washington. So keep the pressure on everybody. (Applause.)
Thank you. God bless you. Let’s build some bridges. Let’s build some roads. God bless America.
2:26 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on July 17, 2014
Political Musings June 11, 2014: Levin wants unemployment extension be added to tax extenders or highway bills
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
OP-EDS & ARTICLES
Posted by bonniekgoodman on June 11, 2014
Political Musings May 18, 2014: Obama’s weekly address urges Congress to act on jobs, transportation bill
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
OP-EDS & ARTICLES
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 18, 2014
Full Text Obama Presidency May 14, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Building a 21st Century Infrastructure at the Tappan Zee Bridge, Tarrytown, New York
OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:
Remarks by the President on Building a 21st Century Infrastructure
Source: WH, 5-14-14
Watch the Video
Washington Irving Boat Club
Tarrytown, New York
3:37 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, New York! (Applause.) It turned out to be a beautiful day. Well, it’s wonderful to be here with all of you. Take a seat, take a seat. Relax.
First of all, I want to thank Governor Cuomo for that great introduction and the great job he’s doing. I want to thank Mayor Fixell for having me in Tarrytown. (Applause.) Where’s the Mayor? Where’d he go? There he is, right there. This is a gorgeous part of the world and I am lucky to be here, and I’m going to be coming back soon; in two weeks, I’ve got the honor of delivering the commencement at West Point just a little bit further up.
But today, I’m here, along with our Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx — (applause) — to talk about one of the best ways to create new jobs and spur our economy, and that is to rebuild America’s infrastructure.
It’s been about five and a half years since the financial crisis that rocked Wall Street and then ultimately spread to Main Street. Thanks to the grit, the determination of the American people, we’ve been steadily fighting our way back. In just four years, our businesses have now created 9.2 million new jobs. Auto industry that was flatlining is now booming. A manufacturing sector that had lost a third of its jobs back in the ‘90s is adding jobs for the first time. Troops that were fighting two wars, they’re either home or coming home. Rather than creating jobs in other countries, more and more companies are recognizing it makes good business sense to locate right here in the United States of America with outstanding American workers. (Applause.)
So we’ve made progress, but here’s the thing: We could be doing a lot more. We could make the decision easier for businesses to locate here in the United States, here in New York state, if we do a better job rebuilding our roads, rebuilding our bridges, upgrading our ports, unclogging commute times. The alternative is to do nothing and watch businesses go to places that have outstanding infrastructure.
And behind me is the old Tappan Zee Bridge, the longest bridge in New York and one of the busiest bridges around. As any commuter will tell you, it is crowded. (Laughter.) It carries a lot more traffic than when it was built back in 1955. At times, you can see the river through the cracks in the pavement. Now, I’m not an engineer, but I figure that’s not good. (Laughter.)
But right now, thanks to the efforts of Governor Cuomo, thanks to your outstanding congressional delegation led by Nita Lowey and including Eliot Engel, and Sean Patrick Maloney, and Jerry Nadler, all of whom are here today — stand up, congressional delegation. We’re proud of you. (Applause.) Thanks to their outstanding efforts, workers are building a replacement — the first new bridge in New York in 50 years. It’s called The “New” New York Bridge — which is fine as a name, but for your next bridge you should come up with something a little more fresh. (Laughter.)
Now, here’s the thing — this never happens — you are building this bridge ahead of schedule. Three years ago, after Republicans in Congress refused to pass multiple bills that would have put construction workers back to work, I took action on my own to fast-track the permitting process for major projects like this one. Normally, it would have taken three to five years to permit this bridge; we did it in a year and a half — in a year and a half. (Applause.) That meant we were creating thousands of jobs faster while doing right by workers and tending to the environment. And the Vice President is in Cleveland today at another project that we fast-tracked — a rapid-transit station that will make life easier for a lot of residents there.
So today, we’re releasing a new plan to apply the same strategy to other major projects all across America. We’re announcing 11 more projects to accelerate, to get moving faster — from Boston’s South Station, to Pensacola Bay Bridge, to new light-rail projects north and south of Seattle. We’re cutting bureaucratic red tape that stalls good projects from breaking ground. We’re launching a new national permitting center to implement these reforms. We are aiming to put every major infrastructure project on a public dashboard so everybody can go online; track our progress; hold us accountable; make sure things are coming in on time, on budget; make sure your taxpayer money is being used well, but also make sure that we’re putting folks back to work rebuilding America. That’s our goal. (Applause.)
Now, all these steps we can do without Congress. And all these steps mean more good jobs — because nobody was hurt worse than construction workers by the financial crisis. The housing market plummeted, and a lot of guys in hard hats and a lot of gals in hard hats, suddenly they were off the job. And that’s why the Recovery Act back in 2009, 2010 included the most important public works jobs program since the New Deal, jumpstarting more than 15,000 construction projects around the country.
Over the past five years, American workers have repaired or replaced more than 20,000 bridges, improved more than 350,000 miles of American roads. Four years ago, when we were just starting to clear away the damage from the financial crisis, the unemployment rate for construction workers stood at 20 percent — in fact, it was over 20 percent. Today, we’ve cut it by more than half.
But we can do better. We can build better — and we have to. We’ve got ports that aren’t ready for the next generation of cargo ships. We’ve got more than 100,000 bridges that are old enough to qualify for Medicare. (Laughter.) We’ve got leaky pipes that lose billions of gallons of drinking water every single day, even as we’ve got a severe drought in much of the West. Nearly half our people don’t have access to transit at all. And I don’t have to tell you what some of our airports look like.
Building a world-class transportation system is one of the reasons America became an economic superpower in the first place. But over the past 50 years, as a share of our economy, our investment in transportation has shrunk by 50 percent. Think about that. Our investment in transportation has been cut by half.
You know what other countries are doing? European countries now invest twice as much as we do. China invests four times as much as we do in transportation. One study recently found that over time, we’ve fallen to 19th place when it comes to the quality of our infrastructure — 19th place. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like America being 19th. I don’t like America being second. I want us to be first when it comes to infrastructure around the world, because businesses are going to come where there’s good infrastructure to move businesses, move people, move services. (Applause.)
We shouldn’t watch the top-rated airports and seaports or the fastest rail lines or fastest Internet networks get built somewhere else — they need to be built right here in New York, right here in the United States. First-class infrastructure attracts first-class jobs. Business owners don’t want a crumbling road or a bridge because then they can’t move out their stuff, and their workers aren’t as productive because it’s harder for them to get to work. They want to set up shop where there’s high-speed rail and high-speed broadband, high-tech schools, self-healing power grids, new ports, tunnels. That allows them, when they make goods here in America, to move those goods out and sell them all around the world.
Now, unfortunately, helping states and cities fund infrastructure is one of Congress’s chief responsibilities. And you’ve got some outstanding members here, but let me just talk a little bit about Congress right now. If they don’t act by the end of the summer, federal funding for transportation projects will run out — will run out. There will be no money. The cupboard will be bare. And all told, nearly 700,000 jobs would be at risk over the next year — that’s like the population of Tampa and St. Louis combined.
Right now, there are more than 100,000 active projects paving roads and rebuilding bridges, modernizing our transit systems. States might have to choose which ones to put the brake on. Some states are already starting to slow down work because they’re worried Congress won’t untangle the gridlock on time. And that’s something you should remember every time you see a story about a construction project stopped, or machines idled, or workers laid off their jobs.
And that’s why, earlier this year, in addition to fast-tracking projects, working with Secretary Foxx, I put forward a plan to rebuild our transportation infrastructure in a more responsible way. It would support millions of jobs across America. It would give cities and states and private investors the certainty they need to plan ahead and invest. And it wouldn’t add to our deficits because we’d pay for it in part by closing wasteful tax loopholes for companies that are shipping jobs overseas that are in the tax code right now and that we could clean out and help pay to put folks back to work rebuilding America. (Applause.)
Now, so far, at least, Republicans who run this Congress seem to have a different priority. Not only have they prevented so far efforts to make sure funding is still in place for what we’ve already got, but their proposal would actually cut job-creating grant programs that have funded high-priority transportation projects in all 50 states. They’d cut them by about 80 percent. And they can’t say it’s to save money, because at the very same time, they voted for trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, weighted towards folks at the very top.
So think about that for a second. Instead of putting more workers back on the job, they’d put those workers’ jobs at risk. Instead of breaking ground on new projects that would improve the quality of life for millions of people, they voted to give a massive tax cut to households making more than $1 million a year. Instead of making investments that grow our economy by growing the middle class, they’re still convinced that prosperity trickles down from the very top.
If you want to tell them what you think about that, don’t worry, because usually they show up at ribbon-cuttings — (laughter) — for projects that they refused to fund.
And here is the sad part: Rebuilding America, that shouldn’t be a partisan issue. My favorite President happens to have been a Republican — a guy named Abraham Lincoln in my home state of Illinois. And it was Lincoln who committed to a railroad connecting East to West, even while he was struggling mightily to hold together North and South. It was a Republican, Dwight Eisenhower, who built the Interstate Highway System. It was Ronald Reagan who said that rebuilding our infrastructure is “an investment in tomorrow that we must make today.” Since when are the Republicans in Congress against Ronald Reagan? (Laughter.)
But that’s part of the problem — we’ve gotten so partisan, everything is becoming political. They’re more interested in saying no because they’re worried that maybe they’d have to be at a bill signing with me than they are at actually doing the job that they know would be good for America. It’s time for folks to stop running around saying what’s wrong with America; roll up your sleeves and let’s get to work and help America rebuild. That’s what we should be doing. (Applause.)
We don’t need a “can’t do” spirit; we need a “can do” spirit. That’s what Governor Cuomo has, and it sounds like the state legislature was willing to work with him on this. Well, we need Congress to work with us on these issues. It doesn’t mean they’re going to agree with us on everything. I guarantee you they will have more than enough to disagree with me about, but let’s not fight on something we all know makes sense. After all, we’re the people who, in the depths of the Depression, lifted a great bridge in California, and laid a great dam down in the Southwest, and lifted up rural America. We shrank a sprawling continent when we pounded in that final railroad spike, connected up this amazing country of ours; stretched a network of highways all across America from coast to coast. And then we connected the world with our imaginations and the Internet.
A great nation does these things. A great nation doesn’t say “no, we can’t,” it says “yes, we can.” (Applause.)
So the bottom line, Tarrytown, is America doesn’t stand still. There is work to be done. There are workers ready to do it, and some of them are here and they’re already on the job doing the work. We’re proud of them. (Applause.) There are people all across this country that are ready and eager to move this country forward.
So I’m going to keep on fighting alongside all of you to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to rebuild America — not just rebuild one bridge, but I want us to rebuild every bridge. I don’t want us to just rebuild one school, I want us to rebuild every school that needs help. (Applause.) I want us to most of all, most importantly, rebuild an economy where hard work is valued and responsibility is respected and rewarded, and where opportunity is available not just to some, but to every single hardworking American. That’s what I’m fighting for, and I know that’s what you care about.
Thank you very much, everybody. Good job, workers. I look forward to seeing this bridge. Thank you very much. God bless you. God bless America. Thank you. (Applause.)
3:54 P.M. EDT
Posted by bonniekgoodman on May 14, 2014