Excellent news from Milwaukee, where President Obama is celebrating Labor Day.
Seeking to bolster the sluggish economy, President Barack Obama is using a Labor Day appearance in Milwaukee to announce he will ask Congress for $50 billion to kick off a new infrastructure plan designed to expand and renew the nation’s roads, railways and runways.
The goals, according to the White House: “Rebuild 150,000 miles of roads — renewing our commitment to the backbone of our transportation system ... . Construct and maintain 4,000 miles of rail — enough to go coast to coast. ... Rehabilitate or reconstruct 150 miles of runway — while putting in place a NextGen system that will reduce travel time and delays.”
The measures include the “establishment of an Infrastructure Bank to leverage federal dollars and focus on investments of national and regional significance that often fall through the cracks in the current siloed transportation programs" and “the integration of high-speed rail on an equal footing into the surface transportation program.”
Form the fact sheet provided by the White House:
Some of the main provisions of the President’s plan over the next six years include:
• ROADS: Rebuild 150,000 miles of roads — renewing our commitment to the backbone of our transportation system;
• RAILWAYS: Construct and maintain 4,000 miles of rail — enough to go coast-to-coast;
• RUNWAYS: Rehabilitate or reconstruct 150 miles of runway — while putting in place a NextGen system that will reduce travel time and delays.
The President’s plan would accomplish this through:
• An up-front investment. The President will work with Congress to enact a new up-front investment in our nation’s infrastructure — an investment that would help jump-start additional job creation, while also laying the foundation for future growth. This initial investment would fund improvements in the nation’s surface transportation, as well as our airports and air traffic control system.
• A vision for the future. The President proposes to pair this with a long-term framework to reform and expand our nation’s investment in transportation infrastructure. Since the end of last year, when the last long-term surface transportation legislation expired, these investments have been continued on a temporary basis, even as the trust fund to finance them has fallen into insolvency. If we are to enjoy the benefits that come from a world-class transportation system, Congress must enact a long-term reauthorization that expands and reforms our infrastructure investments and returns the transportation trust fund to solvency. To jumpstart job creation, this long-run policy front-loads – through a $50 billion up-front investment — a significant share of the new infrastructure resources. As with other long-run policies, the Administration is committed to working with Congress to fully pay for the plan.
It's a solid, job-creating policy idea to take into the fall campaign season, a) because it's absolutely necessary, and b) it's jobs, jobs, jobs. It's going to be hard for Republicans to honestly argue that the nation's transportation infrastructure doesn't need this critical investment before it falls entirely apart (not that they need honest arguments) and harder for them to fight a good job plan.