Obama pushes infrastructure investment during Minnesota trip
February 26th, 2014
10:43 AM ET
8 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. Lynda/Minnesota

    smith
    @Lynda-You don`t have to answer the question.Your caught either way, if you say Blanco is at fault then you blame a democrat for infrastructure failures. If you say no its not Blanco`s fault then you just used a double standard.
    -----–

    Yeah. You know what, smith. I'm going to go with "I've not got enough information to make a valid response" and let the entire matter settle between us. I see no purpose in furthering our conversation. If your only goal is to try and one up me, no response from me will be acceptable to your lofty impression of yourself.

    February 26, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. Silence DoGood

    Obama – spending money on US infrastructure to benefit US citizens
    Bush – spent money on Iraq's infrastructure after blowing it up based on lies and killing US citizens

    February 26, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. Fair is Fair

    Rudy NYC

    Ron L

    For all of you who disagree that the Federal Gas Tax should not be increased to get these horrible roads repaired I would like to here how you think it should be paid for.
    ------
    I'm interested to hear the response to this, too. Like I told Fair, this was proposed some Democrat from Oregon in early December 2013. Republicans were strongly against it. The rate has remained fixed for over 20 years.
    --------
    He tried to almost DOUBLE it in one fell swoop. Can't do it like that. Too much sticker shock.

    February 26, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Rudy

    If I remember correctly, the structural flaw was the gussets. The design itself was faulted because the entire length of the bridge was not sectioned to adapt to a collapse. If one section collapsed, it all collapsed simultaneously. That it would not have collapsed had the gussets been maintained is an understatement at this point.

    February 26, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. Silence DoGood

    @Lynda/Minnesota
    smith
    @Lynda-You don`t have to answer the question.Your caught either way, if you say Blanco is at fault then you blame a democrat for infrastructure failures. If you say no its not Blanco`s fault then you just used a double standard.
    -––

    Yeah. You know what, smith. I'm going to go with "I've not got enough information to make a valid response" and let the entire matter settle between us. I see no purpose in furthering our conversation. If your only goal is to try and one up me, no response from me will be acceptable to your lofty impression of yourself.
    ------
    Lynda, now you have a small sense of how Obama must feel. No matter what he says, does, offers, negotiates, argues, proposes, or reasons, the Radical Right is still wagging the GOP Congress dog to say NO, no ,no, like a petulant 5 year old.

    February 26, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. smith

    @Silence-Uh, Im an Independent. So using typical blaming republican fodder won`t work because I blame bothe dems and repubs.

    February 26, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. Tommy G

    Rudy NYC
    Tommy G wrote:
    Here is some education for all you lefties pointing to the Minnesota bridge collapse. The problem was NOT a lack of maintenance but a DESIGN FLAW.
    ---------
    Uh, no, Tommy. Structural flaws, not design flaws. That span had been in use one or two decades beyond it's life expectancy. State inspectors had identified flaws and deficiencies in the bridge, but Tim Pawlenty wanted a tax cut on his credentials as he ran for POTUS. And, so the repairs to correct the flaws were never made in a timely fashion.
    --

    Well, it appears Rudy NYC knows more than the people that investigated the collapse and issued a report on it. Geez, I don't know why they wasted all that money investigating and reporting when they just could have gone to NYC and asked Rudy why it happened.

    As usual, the lefties in here just making it up as they go. Nothing but smoke and mirrors to confuse and deceive, official repors and investigations mean nothing to them.

    February 26, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Silence DoGood

    I should have stopped long before I did. And, oh yeah. I have always understood just how much patience our President has needed to draw on when dealing with the Grand Old Party ... !

    February 26, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    MORE stimulus and WASTE!

    Obama is TRYING to bankrupt America.........from the government to the individual.......and he IS succeeding.

    February 26, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  10. Silence DoGood

    @smith
    @Silence-Uh, Im an Independent. So using typical blaming republican fodder won`t work because I blame bothe dems and repubs.
    ------------
    Since everything you say is either "Obama bad" and this is the main message and mission of the radical right controlled GOP Congress, I think we have a shoe that fits.

    February 26, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  11. Dean

    "If you like your choo-choo train, you can keep your choo-choo train".

    February 26, 2014 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. ThinkAgain

    @Rick McDaniel: "MORE stimulus and WASTE! Obama is TRYING to bankrupt America.........from the government to the individual.......and he IS succeeding."

    Investing in infrastructure benefits our economy across the board: It employees people and creates/upgrades infrastructure that our domestic businesses rely on, all of which adds to our prosperity by creating demand and generating revenue.

    Without this kind of thinking, we would not have an interstate highway system, rural electrification, hydroelectric dams, the Internet ... It's the right thing to do.

    February 26, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Lynda posted:

    If I remember correctly, the structural flaw was the gussets. The design itself was faulted because the entire length of the bridge was not sectioned to adapt to a collapse. If one section collapsed, it all collapsed simultaneously. That it would not have collapsed had the gussets been maintained is an understatement at this point.
    -------------------------------
    If one section collpsing takes out the entire bridge, then that is not necessarily a "design flaw." The old World Trade Center is a textbook example of structures design to collapse in an orderly fashion.

    I recall how the opponents to the original project had questioned the wisdom of building skyscrapers right along the waterfront, where the entire height of the surfaces could be exposed to hurricane force winds. The engineers and architects gave an odd sounding answer that didn't quite make sense until 2001. They said, "The buldings will fall down before they will fall over."

    February 26, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  14. smith

    @Silence-Nonsense, there are some issues I agree with Obama and the dems and there are some I agree with GOP. However, Obama and the dems are in power and the buck stops with them. Most of my points are that the dems, repubs, and their supporters are always using a double standard. Basically, really isn`t much difference between the two.

    February 26, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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