Obama pushes infrastructure investment during Minnesota trip
February 26th, 2014
10:43 AM ET
6 months ago

Obama pushes infrastructure investment during Minnesota trip

Updated 4:49 p.m. ET, 2/26/2014

(CNN) – On a visit to St. Paul, Minnesota Wednesday President Barack Obama launched his administration's latest grant-funding competition this time aimed at spurring investment in new infrastructure projects.

Framing the announcement as part of his 2014 "year of action," the President told a crowd gathered in the city's new Union Depot that infrastructure projects are a direct path to jobs.

"Any opportunity agenda begins with creating more good jobs and one of the best, fastest ways to create good jobs is by rebuilding America's infrastructure," Obama said. "Our roads, our bridges, our rails, our ports, our airports, our schools, our power grids. We've got a lot of work to do out there and we got to put folks to work."

Obama pointed to the building he was standing in as a prime example. Union Depot was rehabilitated with the help of federal TIGER grants, and Obama called on cities and states to apply for $600 million in newly available TIGER funding before an April 28 deadline.

This new round of grants will be targeted at transportation projects that effect job creation, economic competitiveness and economic development. For the first time since 2010, applications can also include proposals to fund planning grants.

Originally created as part of the 2009 Recovery Act and subsequently reauthorized as part of the omnibus spending bill signed into law earlier this year, according to the White House the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program has funded $3.5 billion worth of projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico since its creation.

Obama also urged Congress to take up his forthcoming transportation reauthorization proposal worth more than $300 billion, including $150 billion in new revenue achieved by reforming the nation's corporate tax structure.

"Congress has an important deadline coming up," the President said. "If Congress doesn't finish a transportation bill by the end of the summer we could see construction projects stop in their tracks. Machines sitting idle. Workers off the job. So next week I'm going to send Congress a budget that funds rebuilding our transportation infrastructure in a more responsible way.

According to a fact sheet distributed by the White House, the President's proposal will include "closing unfair tax loopholes, lowering tax rates, and making the system more fair."

This would create a one-time source of revenue that would then be dedicated to funding surface transportation projects.

A statement issued by Kathleen Bower of AAA, an association of motor clubs formerly known as the American Automotive Association, offered a mixed reaction to the President's remarks. Bower lauded the President for "finally focusing on the funding of our nation's transportation system" but criticized his plan to use one-time funding to address the problems, and instead called for "immediate action" to secure long-term funding through new tax revenue.

"AAA agrees with a large group of diverse transportation stakeholders that a gas tax increase is the most viable, responsible and effective near-term solution to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent," said Bower, AAA vice president for public affairs.

CNN's Chloe Sommers contributed to this report.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "Woo Hoo, lets spend lots of money to fix something that isn`t broke."

    You're kidding right? Every single major professional organization of civic engineers in the country will tell you that our transportation infrastructure is in terrible and dangerous condition across the country. And yes, we fully expect you to dismiss that reality by claiming they just want more money in their pockets, but that ignores all the objective evidence upon which they rely to support their position. You can "lalalalalalala I can't hear you I can' hear you I can't hear you lalalalala" all you want...we expect it from you guys.

    February 26, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. just asking

    does obama think all of the unemployed people in the country are road and bridge builders/repairers? from my travels there is already plenty or road and bridge work going on. there is a finite number of these projects that can be going on at once. proper equipment and qualified people to do the work are not all just sitting around as far as i can see.

    this all just sounds like more obama blather before an election cycle. the apprearance of doing something, while actually accomplishing nothing. but the headlines look and sound good.

    February 26, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "Why doesn't he propose the money come from the gas tax? Not enough money? Then raise the gas tax and make EVERYONE pay."

    Riiiiight...because the corporate tax code doesn't need any revision, doesn't give ridiculous, inequitable and unnecessary tax benefits, deductions and loopholes....I.e., tax EXPENDITURES...to corporations and everything's just fine the way it is. You just want the gas tax to be raised so you can scream and yell about Obama raising the gas tax and "hurting everyone at the pump." You know what hurts everyone, including corporations? Having to repair their cars or replace their parts earlier than they should have to, having to pay for repairs to the trucks used by carriers in the shipping industry, having to pay for gas when we should have high speed rail all over the place, having to spend time in traffic because outdated roadways lack the capacity for the number of cars on the road, having to replace bridges that fall down, etc.

    Reality is simple: GOPers/Teatrolls hate the idea of spending money on infrastructure because construction is unionized. Plain and simple. They'd rather watch bridges collapse than see construction workers employed ad paying their union dues.

    February 26, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Fair is Fair wrote:

    "We do need to repair and improve our infrastructure, anyway. Seriously. There are potholes everywhere that look like Godzilla footprints, man. Unfortunately, joining a major infrastructure proposal to a corporate tax increase will not make it past Republicans in the Senate, much less see the light of day in the House."

    Why doesn't he propose the money come from the gas tax? Not enough money? Then raise the gas tax and make EVERYONE pay.
    -----------------------
    If you think that I agree with the rumored proposal tie infrastructure to an increase corporate taxes, think again. That was for tom. Democrats proposed raising the gas tax a week or so ago. Republicans are dead set against it.

    Personally, I think the corporate tax structure does need to be re-examined. I don't like loopholes that allow multi-nationals to deduct their foreign tax debts off of their U.S. taxes. It causes U.S. taxpayers to pay for their income taxes in foreign countries where they have manufacturing sites.

    February 26, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. smith

    Gimmie a break, some potholes or some bumps in the road. That is the big crumbling infrastucture?

    February 26, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Tom Paine: "or do you need another bridge collapse in MN to drive home the point?"

    No. No more bridge collapses in MN (or anywhere in America).

    February 26, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  7. Silence DoGood

    Bush – spending and running up the debt on War and killing based on Lies
    Obama – spending on infrastructure, pulling us out of Bush Recession

    February 26, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  8. Gurgyl

    @Donna, do you have any brain, destruction of unions is destruction of America. Companies and their Republican idiots destroyed USA. Read the labor laws.

    February 26, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  9. smith

    @Gurgyl-Yes, I think Obama is an idiot as well for wasting billions in Afghanistan.

    February 26, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  10. Fair is Fair

    Sniffit

    "Why doesn't he propose the money come from the gas tax? Not enough money? Then raise the gas tax and make EVERYONE pay."

    Riiiiight...because the corporate tax code doesn't need any revision, doesn't give ridiculous, inequitable and unnecessary tax benefits, deductions and loopholes....I.e., tax EXPENDITURES...to corporations and everything's just fine the way it is. You just want the gas tax to be raised so you can scream and yell about Obama raising the gas tax and "hurting everyone at the pump." You know what hurts everyone, including corporations? Having to repair their cars or replace their parts earlier than they should have to, having to pay for repairs to the trucks used by carriers in the shipping industry, having to pay for gas when we should have high speed rail all over the place, having to spend time in traffic because outdated roadways lack the capacity for the number of cars on the road, having to replace bridges that fall down, etc.

    Reality is simple: GOPers/Teatrolls hate the idea of spending money on infrastructure because construction is unionized. Plain and simple. They'd rather watch bridges collapse than see construction workers employed ad paying their union dues.
    -------
    Nah, although your paranoia shines through again. EVERYONE uses the roads. EVERYONE should pay for their upkeep. The equitable way to do that is via a use-tax, which is exactly what the gas tax is.

    February 26, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  11. tom l

    I pledged to myself I wouldn't respond to such an ignorant person but I gotta on this one because it might be the all time dumbest thing ever written on these boards

    "Tax Revenue is ONLY to be used for tax cuts to the wealthy"

    This demonstrates such a fundamental lack of education and understanding it's remarkable.

    February 26, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  12. tom l

    Fair,
    Your comment on the democrats war against seniors made me laugh out loud. Classic. :)

    February 26, 2014 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  13. 2_indy1600

    I'm not smart enough to figure this out, but why not do away with both parties and engineer an independent party consisting of equal power between Pres and VP with one Dem and one Republican? There's more than one way to skin a cat, and both parties have good ideas, because we need to balance the checkbook as well as provide for the citizens in need. It may sound crazy, but if you have an executive to herd the cats in both houses of congress, wouldn't something finally get done? Have no idea how to do this, but it makes sense to me. Run Biden and Hagel together and you've got my vote. Besides, how much more could you do for peace than Hagel's done in one year? That used to be the demand, not profit. Old folks did too many "duck and cover" drills to ever trust socialism. Besides, I have a crush on Chuck.

    February 26, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. Smitty

    Anything this jerk does is half baked, What the BIGGEST LIAR OF YEAR doesn't want you to know is he is more inept than day 1, its hard to believe a college grad could be so useless.

    February 26, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Donna

    Obama and his 1930's WPA ideas are as old and moldy as it gets. This clueless clown simply does not know what its takes to get the private sector growing again.
    ------------------–
    Call it whatever you wish, but at least Pres. Obama is offering concrete solutions. What happened to the "job, jobs, jobs" that Republicans ran on back in 2010. Your criticism reflects more on them than it does the President.

    Republicans haven't proposed anything that could even remotely be considered a jobs bill. The monthly jobs growth numbers literally have flatlined since the Tea Party took over the House. When Democrats were running the House we saw monthy jobs numbers go from -700,000 into consistent positive territory, usually over 100,000.

    February 26, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. Donna

    Gurgyl
    @Donna, do you have any brain, destruction of unions is destruction of America. Companies and their Republican idiots destroyed USA. Read the labor laws.
    -–

    Yikes, the dumbest, most clueless person on the board asking another if they have a brain? Pretty funny...

    So Mr. A Train in Every Village, what do you think made this country the greatest, richest, most powerful country the planet has ever seen? The answer is not government make work jobs. CAPITALISM, PRIVATE ENTERPRISE, that is what built this country and made it what it is. Government only has what it TAKES from others. It makes nothing, produces nothing, without first TAKING from the private sector.

    February 26, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  17. smith

    @Tom Paine-I suppose in your eyes the Minn. bridge collapse was the GOP and non-liberals fault.

    February 26, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  18. Silence DoGood

    @smith
    @Gurgyl-Yes, I think Obama is an idiot as well for wasting billions in Afghanistan.
    -----------
    Whereas Bush "invested" billions in Iraq. Payback = dead soldiers and National Debt. Very shrew.

    February 26, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  19. Tommy G

    tom l
    I pledged to myself I wouldn't respond to such an ignorant person but I gotta on this one because it might be the all time dumbest thing ever written on these boards

    "Tax Revenue is ONLY to be used for tax cuts to the wealthy"
    --
    This demonstrates such a fundamental lack of education and understanding it's remarkable.
    --

    No, it demonstarytes that you don't understand who you are talking to. A person that makes such a statement believes the government owns all wealth and revenue, noth the people that earned it. And given the limitless 16th Amendment, they are correct. You don't see most of your paycheck every week because the government confiscates its share FIRST. The government is the first to be paid for YOUR labor.

    February 26, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  20. Silence DoGood

    @2_indy1600
    I'm not smart enough to figure this out, but why not do away with both parties and engineer an independent party consisting of equal power between Pres and VP with one Dem and one Republican? There's more than one way to skin a cat, and both parties have good ideas, because we need to balance the checkbook as well as provide for the citizens in need. It may sound crazy, but if you have an executive to herd the cats in both houses of congress, wouldn't something finally get done? Have no idea how to do this, but it makes sense to me. Run Biden and Hagel together and you've got my vote. Besides, how much more could you do for peace than Hagel's done in one year? That used to be the demand, not profit. Old folks did too many "duck and cover" drills to ever trust socialism. Besides, I have a crush on Chuck.
    ------–
    US elections were actually run as the President and VP were the top two candidates overall, not a "ticket". Since they were often in opposition, this ended up being different in politics between Pres and VP.

    February 26, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. Harold Read

    Will the construction projects have moving deadlines like all Obama's other projects?

    "We'll, uh you can go ahead and drive on this road, but uh it's not really finished. But I promise you it will be finished by December.

    We will have the 7 million people driving on this road. Uh, we have 9 million that said that they would drive on this road, wait I mean 2 million, oh wait 5 million.

    Wait here is this road that a private company built. Drive on that until we can get this road fixed."

    February 26, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Fair wrote:

    Nah, although your paranoia shines through again. EVERYONE uses the roads. EVERYONE should pay for their upkeep. The equitable way to do that is via a use-tax, which is exactly what the gas tax is.
    ---------------------------
    A Democrat in the House proposed raising the gas tax back in December. Republicans were dead set against it, I told you.

    February 26, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  23. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Dominican mama: "That particular stretch of "highway" was where many of us found out if we were truly good drivers or just wannabes that should have their license revoked!"

    Your comment reminds me of my grandmother. While we spent the first 10 years of my life living in the heart of Minneapolis, we also lived next door to her. After we moved to the 'burbs and I learned to drive, I enjoyed going to visit with her or pick her up to shop in the city (etc). To get to her house, I had to drive through what we here in Minnesota term "spaghetti junction" - the I35W corridor going straight through Minneapolis).

    Each time I set out on one route, I ended up traveling another route altogether. I would eventually make to her house, but not without effort. I have to admit: she was game. Personally, I'd never have gotten into a car back then with me at the drivers wheel.

    Thankfully, I finally did manage to exit correctly, else I would likely have been fired from my job (which again found me driving in spaghetti junction) so many years later.

    February 26, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    smith
    @Tom Paine-I suppose in your eyes the Minn. bridge collapse was the GOP and non-liberals fault.
    --------

    Well, smith. Governor Tim Pawlenty WAS in office when the bridge collapsed. Governor Pawlenty DID veto funding for structural repair work for that particular bridge. Governor Pawlenty, knowing full well that the bridge had structural damage, did authorize resurfacing (which the weight of said equipment DID infact cause the bridge to collapse).

    The fault, smith? Lays with those unwilling to fund the repairs as needed prior to total collapse.

    February 26, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Tommy G

    Rudy NYC
    Fair wrote:
    Nah, although your paranoia shines through again. EVERYONE uses the roads. EVERYONE should pay for their upkeep. The equitable way to do that is via a use-tax, which is exactly what the gas tax is.
    ---------
    A Democrat in the House proposed raising the gas tax back in December. Republicans were dead set against it, I told you.
    ---

    States also tax gasoline for road and bridge purposes. Most of the roads and bridges in this county are state and local responsibilities. If they need work, then the respective state and local government should be paying for the project.

    Federal gasoline tax revenue should only be used for the interstate highways. But of course we all know it is not. I'll bet most of it gets diverted to various welfare programs.

    February 26, 2014 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
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