May 14th, 2014
04:55 PM ET
9 years 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.

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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The President spoke at the Washington Irving Boat Club just north of New York City, using the outdated Tappan Zee Bridge as a backdrop.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. Steve

    So someone said cut off money to the red states? Then how about the red states cut off oil to the blue states? Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota could cripple the economy of the blue states.

    May 14, 2014 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  2. primatica

    I shall not fear, fear is the mindkiller.........connect the whole world in every way. Let us live for the future.

    May 14, 2014 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  3. Scott

    Republicans have been fighting a lame duck, and when Democrats really start, conservatives will find out how weak their attacks really are.

    May 14, 2014 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  4. YBH

    You'd think that 6 years in, Barry would not still be blaming republicans for everything...

    May 14, 2014 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  5. TMF

    Its too bad the entire GOP "leadership" wasn't on the plane in Malaysia b/c the country would greatly benefit if they disappeared mysteriously.

    May 14, 2014 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  6. this is funny

    How many years has Obama been in office now? Ever notice when things go wrong its NEVER obamas fault....its republicans. Obama could end term limits and be in office for 20years straight and democrats would STILL blame republicans or bush...its sad and sickening!

    May 14, 2014 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  7. Mr New York

    MR President don't for one second bark at the Republicans. You made cars go with less gas which is good but you forgot to tell everyone that the money you pay at the pump goes to building our roads. During your speech you forgot to tell people that New York state has had a Democrat as a governor and has not done anything to address this. New York City has a mayor which is a democrat he thinks the roads are good. Roads are so good he didn't put it in his budget. for next year. Look at you and your own party first.

    May 14, 2014 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  8. kws11

    At least he seems to have finally understood that he is so uninspiring and divisive that his ONLY hope is to somehow get the ghost of someone inspirational to do it for him. BUT...

    No one EVER said: "no matter what kind of hair-brained runaway spending we have; no matter how high the debt and deficit; no matter now staunchly the opposition refuses to even TALK about a real budget... you should ALWAYS agree to spend more on infrastructure." No one said that. Not ever. No one.

    May 14, 2014 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  9. this is funny

    Obama spent over 1 trillion in his 1st has gone down since.....democrats u are a disgrace.

    May 14, 2014 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  10. itisalllies

    Well if Obama stop murdering women and children with drones adn stop targeting wedding parties while he is aiding and arming Al Qaeda in Syria there would be money in the budget for this.

    May 14, 2014 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  11. Nicki Langewis

    I'm all for federal transportation funds to the states but NOT without strings... what we've seen is states taking money for all kinds of projects and then using it to balance their budgets or other pet projects. Totally wrong.

    May 14, 2014 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  12. John Li

    Why is it that even when his message is good, he likes to point the finger and preach to us? Can't you spread love and not hate. Unite rather than divide?

    May 14, 2014 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  13. Jeff Taylor

    With 17.5 trillion dollars in debt, 129 trillion in unfunded liabilities, crumbling infrastructure and vanishing manufacturing base, the baby boomers, true to their calling, focus on what really matters....themselves. They go to fundraisers, they schedule hearings galore during election cycles, and they sit in the sandbox and throw sand at each other. They started retiring in 2011. Imagine once they've all reached retirement age in about 15 years. We'll probably have dirt roads and outdoor plumbing. Provincial governor Jose Hernandez will require us to learn Mandarin, as the 3 companies approved by Beijing to do business in the Province of East Pacific (Walmart, Walmart Mining and Walmart Bicycles) now only accept job applications in Chinese, Spanish and Welsh.

    May 14, 2014 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  14. markiejoe

    Hey Reince - I didn't know the Keystone Pipeline was for transporting human beings. Or is moving oil around more important to Republicans than moving humans around? Must be.

    May 14, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  15. Bob

    The GOP will destroy America rather than allow Obama to look good.

    May 14, 2014 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Hey...they have a tax base.....and election night is over after the eastern US votes
    LIBERAL nut cases

    May 14, 2014 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    do some math have a tax base in the east.

    May 14, 2014 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  18. Dangezy

    Remember the George W stimulus? 1200 to couples and 600 to singles. I figure at least 75% of Americans recieved these benefits. Considering we have 320 mil plus Americans that makes 240 mil people recieved on an average of 900 dollars per. What's 900 times 240 mil times an irag war we didn't need to be in times a subprime housing problem? Are all republicans blind?

    May 14, 2014 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  19. bigfrankcalderon

    Do not expect prices to go down soon, because what happens the politicians say they will soak the rich increasing their and they do they do not pay any more taxes they take it out of the tax payer's hide by increasing prices on their goods and services, the is a surreptitious way of taking more taxes from us who can not afford to pay more.
    That is what the whole game is about make us think it is prices going up but it is nothing but hidden taxes.

    May 14, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    I bet they didn't even come with some math and needs

    May 14, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  21. whatafall

    Comparing the Keystone pipeline to repairing the highway system is like comparing a Boob-job to sewing up a tear in the aorta...

    Keystone is a boondoggle of misplaced profits and hidden long term environmental cost while the US will suffer immediately if our infrastructure isn't fixed for the long haul. GOP is mis-direction central these days. I trust my tax $ to Republicans like I trust my dinner to a pack of dogs.

    May 14, 2014 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    they're getting away with usung you too Mr President

    May 14, 2014 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  23. reply

    We only have x-dollars in our middle-class budget to spend on food and gas and Obamacare. Obama has to prioritize what me need–and it isn't more trillions in debt to pay for foolish spending. Jobs is what we need! FDR established the CCC to put people to work and not let them draw unemployment.

    May 14, 2014 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  24. u1003074

    The Republicans will do everything they can to hurt the economy in hopes that Americans will be so frustrated, they will vote for a "change" in 2014 and 2016. That's been their strategy since day one of Obama's presidency. Will American's see through their strategy or will the Republicans succeed in their despicable plan.

    May 14, 2014 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  25. g

    Can't even think of his own one liners. Has to use one from Reagan. Does this man have no memory of all the money he has squandered over the past 6 years? Perhaps he should recall all the special interests he's given our money to, the fancy vacations he and his big boned woman take every month and, Oh, how about all those "fast and furious guns"!
    Hmmmmmm...let's many billions make that trillions he has wasted of OUR MONEY!

    May 14, 2014 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
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