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The President spoke at the Washington Irving Boat Club just north of New York City, using the outdated Tappan Zee Bridge as a backdrop.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

    Mr. Obama, if you want Republicans to approve money for infrastructure, just tell them the money will go towards a war with Iran or Russia, or towards the investigation into Benghazi, or to pay for your long form birth certificate to be printed, or towards putting Ronald Reagans face on Mount Rushmore, then switch it and use the money to rebuild the crumbling infrustructure in America.

    May 15, 2014 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  2. benhoody

    I am not an Oboma fan at all but these republicans really stink, it doesn't matter what would help the economy or country, they will simply go against it. How are those who vote republican so blind?

    May 15, 2014 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  3. Travis

    Texas is in pretty good shape. But, I suppose it doesn't hurt that our state isn't in debt up to our eyeballs to the federal govn't.

    May 15, 2014 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  4. musclecar61

    Coming from a guy the can't speak the truth if his life depended on it means nothing, we are broke just keep spending like there is no tomorrow. With him in office that may be true.

    May 15, 2014 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  5. lamestreamdoc

    Most people on this site continue to adore Obama and are probably eating up this story. Although, there certainly have been some more "healthier" responses on here in recent months, so perhaps more people truly are fed up with Barack-Hussein's "look-over-here-at-the-crumbling-bridge-while-I-take-away-more-of-your-freedoms" routine. Frankly, good ol' Barry's lookin' kinda...well...desperate, don't you think? I mean, he really had to REACH and call upon all of his team's creativity to come up with this treasure.
    Try though you may, you just can't polish a turd.

    May 15, 2014 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  6. Javier

    I wouldn't trust a liberal with $100 – he'd blow it on campaigning to get votes from illegals. Every stimulus the Liberals get money for becomes a complete and total waste. Very very little of the housing bailout went to help those who really needed it – most of it allowed opportunistic people to blow off a few hundred thousand in debts. And how about that ObamaCare – maybe we can socialize McDonalds too and the food will taste better though a burger will cost $87 once you pay for the government worker and his fat pension and his union and of course you'll need 10 times the amount of workers since they don't know what the word efficiency means!

    May 15, 2014 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  7. Name

    For the ones who don't pay to use the roads should stop talking i drive a truck i pay for highway tax fuel tax and my tag and all that comes up to 15000 a year per i pay the most in tolls

    May 15, 2014 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  8. Michael Logan

    I saw our highway money at work today. 2 trucks, 6 workers, and 1 pothole. Perhaps if we streamlined the costs of doing these repairs more could get done.

    May 15, 2014 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  9. Rj

    One of many things he failed to point out WHY did he have to fast track these projects because the democrats keeping the US from actually doing the work that needs to be done? Focus on the republicans but who made the laws that caused projects take up to 5 years even to get started...? Convenient Memory Lapse. More separation and less bring people together.

    May 15, 2014 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  10. Ron Juniour

    I guess by todays standards most of Reagan Republicans will vote for the Democrats. Other than lip service the current GOP is not worthry to carry his towel.

    May 15, 2014 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  11. American

    Republicans: just bow out gracefullyt, and keep it down. You're done forever.

    May 15, 2014 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  12. Obama is a communist

    If Democrats get elected the US's economy will start to look like Greece and Spain. Tons of overpaid useless entitled government workers and programs with no one to pay the bill. The government is pumping money into useless dead end degrees like Woman studies African studies anything pretty much with a word study at the end is useless and only job you can get is teaching it at taxpayers expense. Poor students graduate with these degrees with huge dept and 90% won't find work in these fields. Government should only fund education where there is a need and money to be made not useless arts degrees and African studies degrees.

    May 15, 2014 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  13. 21st Century Patriot

    Hey Priebus, infrastructure has value beyond just the jobs it takes to create it. An oil pipeline in the midwest will be seen by thousands of commuters as a poor replacement for the Tappan Zee bridge if we let it crumble and fall into the Hudson River.

    May 15, 2014 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  14. Raj

    Simple go with what a democratic president wants to do. Just look at the last GOP president. Taking hot job market and surplus economy and leaving with 11% unemployment and trillions of dollars of deficit. Dems know how to create jobs. And building infrastructure is good for the country.

    May 15, 2014 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  15. Neal

    hmm.... so they want to INCREASE the federal gas tax... I wonder HOW MUCH of that is.... KICK BACKS.... and WASTE.... if only there was less of that, the bridge's and roads across the U.S. could.... ACTUALLY get fixed!!

    May 15, 2014 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  16. Phil S.

    I like how he says "these Republican presidents" when he's close friends with George W. Bush.

    Anyone who is hardcore "Liberal" or "Conservative" is as embarrassing as a professional wresting fan.

    Want better infrastructure? Quit pledging billions of dollars to other countries.

    May 15, 2014 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  17. surakijvuthikornpant

    ^^ Ohh,almost forgot,sir.

    "The pragmaticimplementation of good governance should create BUSINESS OPPOTUNITIES especially to local investors Ex.Mutual funds or joint ventures and also cshould reate JOB OPPOTUNITIES to local labours and local workers

    This should better than government to spend budgets in expenditures alone.

    Because 1) can safe a lot of budgets, (I don't know about "automatic cut sepnding is gone by now or not ??? Do we have better implementation to take place"automatic cut spending"???"
    "Something like "sustainable public financing for government expenditures with balance budgets ??? Sort of???"")

    But if "automatic cut spending" still not go anywhere yet"..

    To save government butgets with mutual funds and joint ventures from local investors or even joint ventures or FDI from foreign investors (Recommend about government MUST BE majorshareholders and hold more than 51% of stocks if invoved "critical infrastrutures assconing to NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGIES about Critical infrastructure",sir.)

    And 2) That is MAJOR REASON ,Because can make "UNEMPLOYMENT RATES to DROP and increasing employment rates" (that we can laugh out loud later aand tell people ,"LOOK,LOOK WHAT WE DID TO UNEMPLOYMENT RATES ,and LOOK what we did to makepeople HAPPY."

    That surely we can LAUGH OUT LOUD,Sound like Epic planning ,isn't it,sir. ^^

    That's my opinion,sir.
    If somebody disagree,that's ok,sir.
    Just only opinions,sir.

    ^^ Thank you very much for your time,reading my opinion,sir.
    Sincerely & faithfully
    Surakij Vuthikornpant.

    May 15, 2014 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  18. Michael Mentges

    Can he go bye-bye already? I personally think we should ship him, Joe, Nancy and Harry to the space station to negotiate with Russia! One way!

    May 15, 2014 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  19. Anton

    the Keystone Pipeling is not part of our infrastructure and doesn't quarantee any permant job positions (not to mention the likelehood of environmental disasters).

    We need to fix highways, bridges, overpasses, roads, and etc.

    May 15, 2014 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  20. Albert Leo

    The GOP needs to rename itself the Irresponsibility Party and adopt the dinosaur as its symbol.

    May 15, 2014 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  21. mike from iowa

    Hurrah! My only criticism is, why did you, Mr. Obama, do this your first term? With the trillions spent recovering the economy, your campaign promise was to use strategies like this in your first election. You didn't champion these infrastructure projects all these years. This idea is a winner, but you had this idea 6 years ago!

    May 15, 2014 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  22. Just Sayin'

    Maybe they can get Buffet to donate his billions to infrastructure instead of the abortion industry.

    May 15, 2014 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  23. Chuck

    Unfortunately for the president, Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan are just barely a step above "liberal commie" in today's Republican party.

    May 15, 2014 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  24. independant jim

    Ronny Reagan was an idiot G W Bush was even worse that the party fascists are in control of the GOP we will never see a republican vote to increase investments in America

    May 15, 2014 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  25. Duh

    Obama is for it? I'm 100% the repubs will hate it.

    May 15, 2014 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
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