At the Milwaukee Labor Fest, before more than 10,000 union members and their families in Milwaukee, the President announced today a massive new job-creating road, rail, runway and air traffic control rebuilding project, a $50B plan.
Over the next six years, we are going to rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads – enough to circle the world six times. We're going to lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways – enough to stretch coast-to-coast. We're going to restore 150 miles of runways and advance a next generation air-traffic control system to reduce travel time and delays for American travelers – something I think folks across the political spectrum could agree on.
All of this will not only create jobs now, but will make our economy run better over the long haul.
Speaking to the Milwaukee Area Labor Council’s annual LaborFest celebration, Obama said it was "the great American middle class that made our economy the envy of the world. It’s got to be that way again."
It was folks like you, after all, who forged that middle class. It was working men and women who made the twentieth century the American century. It was the labor movement that helped secure so much of what we take for granted today– the 40-hour work week, the minimum wage, family leave, health insurance, Social Security, Medicare, retirement plans, those cornerstones of middle class security that all bear the union label.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also spoke:
Trumka told the crowd "Working women and men in Milwaukee—and all across our country—made America ‘Number 1’ in the world. Now it’s time for America to make working people ‘No.1!’."
It’s time for JOBS. For economic patriotism. I want to see the words "Made in America" again—because it’s time to start exporting the things we make, instead of jobs!
President Obama called out the Republican obstructionists and described a stark contrast for November's elections:
But there are some folks in Washington who see things differently. When it comes to just about everything we've done to strengthen the middle class and rebuild our economy, almost every Republican in Congress said no. Even where we usually agree, they say no. They think it's better to score political points before an election than actually solve problems. So they said no to help for small businesses. No to middle-class tax cuts. No to unemployment insurance. No to clean energy jobs. No to making college affordable. No to reforming Wall Street. Even as we speak, these guys are saying no to cutting more taxes for small business owners. I mean, come on! Remember when our campaign slogan was "Yes We Can?" These guys are running on "No, We Can't," and proud of it. Really inspiring, huh?
To steal a line from our old friend, Ted Kennedy: what is it about working men and women that they find so offensive?
We know. Republicans love the rich but hate people who earn their bread by laboring.
Bottom line is, these guys refuse to give up on the economic philosophy they peddled for most of the last decade. You know that philosophy: you cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires; you cut rules for special interests; you cut working folks like you loose to fend for yourselves. They called it the ownership society. What it really boiled down to was: if you couldn't find a job, or afford college, or got dropped by your insurance company – you're on your own.
Well, that philosophy didn't work out so well for working folks. It didn't work out so well for our country. All it did was rack up record deficits and result in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
I'm not bringing this up to re-litigate the past; I'm bringing it up because I don't want to re-live the past. It would be one thing if Republicans in Washington had new ideas or policies to offer; if they said, you know, we've learned from our mistakes. We'll do things differently this time. But that's not what they're doing. When the leader of their campaign committee was asked on national television what Republicans would do if they took over Congress, he actually said they'd follow "the exact same agenda" as they did before I took office. The exact same agenda.
Good speech by the President before real friends. Go here to read it all: Remarks of President Barack Obama on the Economy—As Prepared for Delivery
We need to be fired up and ready to go this November. Labor is fired up!
Update I: From jethrock in the comments. A short clip where Obama says' they've been talking about me like a dog":
Update II: Also from jethrock:Link to CSPAN video of entire speech
Update III: From Dansac, a link to the New York Times:
The plan envisions extending and revising a broad transportation policy bill that is usually renewed every five years or so but has been stalled in Congress. Although Mr. Obama is calling for investment over six years, the White House said it would be front-loaded with an initial investment of $50 billion in taxpayer money, followed by more spending in later years, to help create jobs as early as next year.
The administration said it would work with Congress to find ways to pay for the plan so that it would not add to the nation’s rising deficit. The White House is proposing to cut tax breaks and existing subsidies for oil and gas exploration and production as one way to pay for the plan, but officials said Mr. Obama is open to other ideas. Historically, transportation projects have been paid for largely with dedicated taxes like those on gasoline.