May 14th, 2014
04:55 PM ET
5 months ago

Obama to GOP: Tear down this bridge, and pay for a new one

Tarrytown, New York (CNN) - Saying that rebuilding America "shouldn't be a partisan issue," President Obama tackled the dense issue of federal infrastructure spending Wednesday. He called on Republicans in Congress to "not fight on something we all know makes sense."

Obama took Republicans to task several times for not approving funds that would replenish the nation's Highway Trust Fund, which could run out of money late this summer.

He said states are already cutting back on projects because of the uncertainty, and that thousands of good-paying construction jobs are in jeopardy as a result. If Congress does not, "act by the end of the summer, federal funding for transportation projects will run out," Obama said. "There will be no money, the cupboard will be bare."

Obama told Republicans that if they didn't want to listen to him, maybe they should listen to some past GOP leaders.

"My favorite president happens to have been a Republican - a guy named Abraham Lincoln in my home state of Illinois." He added "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'.”

The President spoke at the Washington Irving Boat Club just north of New York City, using the outdated Tappan Zee Bridge as a backdrop. The bridge is in the process of being replaced by a new span, and is one of several so-called fast track projects that the President used as an example of success stories he would like to see repeated across the country.

In that vein, Obama also announced an executive action to streamline infrastructure permitting at the federal level, and unveiled plans to fast-track 11 projects across the country.

"We're releasing a new plan for 11 more projects to accelerate from Boston South Station to Pensacola Bay Bridge, to new light rail projects north and south of Seattle," he said, adding that his order would cut "bureaucratic red tape that stalls good projects from breaking ground."

The push comes as the federal Highway Trust Fund is rapidly dwindling, setting up a so-called "transportation cliff" toward the end of August. Fueled by gasoline taxes, the fund hasn't been able to keep up with spending demands as Americans spend less on fuel.

Meanwhile, America's highways and bridges - and other critical parts of the nation's transportation infrastructure such as railways - need serious upgrades and repairs. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives U.S. infrastructure a D+ in terms of condition and performance.

In Washington, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California put forward a transportation bill earlier this week in the Senate that has received some Republican support. But there has been little support in the Republican-controlled House.

Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus responded to the President's criticism, saying, "We already tried President Obama's effort to fix our country's infrastructure through his failed $830 billion stimulus. If the President is looking for a shovel-ready project, then he can get moving on the Keystone Pipeline which will create thousands of American jobs."

Wednesday evening the President attends two Democratic Party fundraisers in New York. On Thursday he is scheduled to address the dedication ceremony at the 9-11 Museum in New York City, before returning to Washington.

CNN's Jim Acosta, Kevin Liptak and Dana Davidsen contributed to this story.


Filed under: New York • President Obama
soundoff (668 Responses)
  1. Brian Fejer

    Roads are socialism.

    May 14, 2014 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  2. Mike

    Even as a caonservative I look at the state of our infrastructure and see that we have to start updating roads and bridges at a much faster pace or else we will hamstring the economy even further.

    May 14, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  3. Bill_you_are_an_idiot

    So, ground Air Force One? Really? THAT'S your solution? You should be President with so many brilliant ideas! Maybe when you move out of your trailer park and get an edumcation youll git smerter

    May 14, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  4. rs

    Gunderson

    Yessir!,
    Just how many buckets of oats in horse years do you think that will cost? Or with the 29 Hour Work Week how long do you think it will take? I believe the Till is empty so where do we get the funds? Food Stamps???
    __________________
    The "till" is empty because the GOP cut taxes, but kept right on spending. Figure it out Gundy.

    May 14, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  5. Dean

    PoliticsFirstCountryLast

    Obama should cut of highway funding and all federal funding to red states immediately. First, those of us in the blue states are sick of carrying them; second, they are supremely ungrateful, and third, we all know by now they HATE being net "takers".
    All the money the red states have to pay is caused by the liberals who move to the red states and refuse to work because the government owes them a living.

    May 14, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Our country's infrastructure was created in a time when income taxes were much higher and the gas tax generated more revenue for each mile driven, due to much less efficient autos and trucks. Now, with more efficient vehicles, the roadways are getting the same wear, but the government has much less money for upgrades and maintenance.

    Currently, the federal government spends about $54 billion for transportation annually, and that is not enough. However, the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax only brings in about $35 billion per year. The best solution is an increase in the gas tax. At the Federal level, it should be increased by 2 or 3 cent each year, until the total increase reaches 10 cents. When the oil companies, together with Wall Street traders, raise the price of gas $.50 per gallon or more, we get no additional benefit. We whine, but we pay. Why can't Uncle Sam get another 10 cents to actually build and repair our roads?

    Not that long ago, Americans were willing to pay to build and maintain a Great Country. We didn't like it, but we realized that it was necessary. Then Republicans began telling us we didn't have to pay; "It is your money and you know best how to spend it." The new American Values, Republican Style. Leave a broken down country for the next generation. New Family Values.

    May 14, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  7. sly

    Republicans are Morons. Period. Anti-American.

    They love increasing spending and federal deficits to record levels if it means murdering 500,000 dark skinned Arabs.

    But spend a dollar here in America for VA Hospitals, or bridges, or health care for Americans, or increased Benghazi Embassy security? "No No NO" scream the Republicans, with American blood dripping from their fingers.

    Shame.

    May 14, 2014 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  8. Charlie

    Mr. Obama is such a funny man!

    May 14, 2014 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  9. DH

    The Repubs are shaking in their pants that Hillary will kick their ...... And she will.

    The Repubs are doing ZERO then complaining no jobs. No nothing. They lie, they cheat they make a mess and wonder why Obama has not cleaned it up yet. AMERICANS ARE SICK OF REPUBS and in Nov and 2016 we will show you. We have been registering folks in every state since last summer, can't wait for midterms then 2016. Bye Repubs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 14, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  10. mstipton

    When the GOP is in power then rebuilding the infrastructure will be back in fashion. Deficits won't matter again.

    May 14, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  11. georgex9

    Raise gasoline taxes a dime. That is such a small amount compared to the cost per gallon that no one would notice.

    May 14, 2014 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  12. king

    the Chinese are having a ball right now, they know they have the opportunity to take over being the only super power on the planet, because of the repubs stupidity, they would rather tell americans that their neighbors are using their tax money, spending it in their local economies like junken sailors, then scoop all the money up and backdoor it to the rich so they can commence investing in china building up their country more powerful than our. the repubs are dwindling our number one status to bits. they're only tactic is to destroy obama legacy and don't give a dam if china reap the benefits. we are sliding and china is moving up. did you guys see china infrastructure lately, i guarantee you it doesn't look like old falling down america anymore. when the dems had congress back in 2009 and 2010, they past through alot of legislation that is booming our county right now, including universal healthcare. imagine if dems take back the congress again.

    May 14, 2014 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  13. Bill from GA

    Priebus – "We already tried President Obama's effort to fix our country's infrastructure through his failed $830 billion stimulus."

    One third of the Stimulus went to tax cuts, another third went to states to prop up their economy, the last third went to highway funds. And it turned the economy around, along with TARP.

    We can't expect Reince or the righties to remember the 800 THOUSAND jobs LOST the month before Obama took office.

    May 14, 2014 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  14. rangerider

    $100M would have been better spent on infrastructure -Not includeing IRS furniture. Oh, and additional spent on bonuses.

    May 14, 2014 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  15. Bill from GA

    Anonymous

    Our country's infrastructure was created in a time when income taxes were much higher and the gas tax generated more revenue for each mile driven, due to much less efficient autos and trucks. Now, with more efficient vehicles, the roadways are getting the same wear, but the government has much less money for upgrades and maintenance.

    Currently, the federal government spends about $54 billion for transportation annually, and that is not enough. However, the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gas tax only brings in about $35 billion per year. The best solution is an increase in the gas tax. At the Federal level, it should be increased by 2 or 3 cent each year, until the total increase reaches 10 cents. When the oil companies, together with Wall Street traders, raise the price of gas $.50 per gallon or more, we get no additional benefit. We whine, but we pay. Why can't Uncle Sam get another 10 cents to actually build and repair our roads?

    Not that long ago, Americans were willing to pay to build and maintain a Great Country. We didn't like it, but we realized that it was necessary. Then Republicans began telling us we didn't have to pay; "It is your money and you know best how to spend it." The new American Values, Republican Style. Leave a broken down country for the next generation. New Family Values.

    Hey, that was me. Too many things going on.

    May 14, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  16. matsci2

    It's not "good-paying" jobs it's well-paying jobs. Sheesh.

    May 14, 2014 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  17. Eaglekeeper13

    Hey Obama, Maybe NY could have used the $750M you've spent refurbishing Mosques in other countries, countries that hate the U.S by the way, to fix the TZ bridge!

    May 14, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  18. Normandy

    The GOP will never cooperate-thats why they are doomed in future elections

    May 14, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  19. DRJJ

    We've waited too long and spent the money on non priorities! 75 million baby boomers lining up to retire and spike healthcare that we haven't begin to pay for. We've talked more about private sx lives than public debt-National disgrace!

    May 14, 2014 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  20. Larry38363

    I write my congresswoman repeatedly, but she (Marsha Blackburn) is so stuck in partisan idiocy she can't see the forest for the trees or the failing roads for the bridges to nowhere. It's not time to write your congressmen/women! It's time to vote these domestic terrorists OUT!

    May 14, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  21. Tru

    It's sad that the current republican party and many posters are simply filled with ignorance and intolerance when it comes to President Obama. These people hate the fact that President Obama still has breath in his body; let alone try to work to resolve issues and continue to move the country forward. These people (current vocal republicans) are sad and pathetic!

    May 14, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  22. dishpan

    Why don't we just eliminate the food stamp and welfare programs that should pay for the bridge right?

    Who cares about anyone rich, poor, blue collar, etc. Things cost money and you can only tax the working class so much before they are on welfare themselves, sorry to tell these progressive liberals, but unfortunately money doesn't grow on trees so either spread the pain around or just accept the fact it's not happening.

    May 14, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  23. John Smith

    These Repubs are hilarious! Thousands of new American jobs to lay a pipeline that is 2/3 done. Have they ever seen a pipeline project being done. Where are you going to put these thousands of new workers? Are they going to stand there and hold hands along the route to show where it goes. What a crock!

    May 14, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  24. cbp

    Now let's see if Republicans will appropriate the money necessary to make our highways and bridges safe. IT is almost criminal that our government is not fixing the problems. States just cannot afford to do that and to undertake all of the appropriations that have been given to the states by Congress. Every time Congress stops supporting a line item Congress quickly passes that expense along to the states. I believe that Republicans must agree to make the repairs and to rebuild those road and bridges that cannot be repaired.

    May 14, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  25. Shovel Ready Bridges-R-US

    For the love of God! PLEASE, not more of this insane infrastructure spending to try and pretend it helps the economy! My grand kids don't want to pay for this!! Stop spending their future and burying them in debt.

    May 14, 2014 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
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