Obama pitches to boost infrastructure spending

Updated
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on infrastructure investment at PortMiami in Florida March 29, 2013.
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks on infrastructure investment at PortMiami in Florida March 29, 2013.
REUTERS

President Obama made a quick stop in Miami to pitch infrastructure investment as a tool for resurrecting the economy.

The president used the day trip to pivot from recent gun control and immigration initiatives back to his plans for the economy. He plans to release his budget on April 10th and infrastructure investments will be included in it. His plan looks to encourage private investment coupled with taxpayer dollars to improve our ports, streets, and energy grids while creating middle-class jobs.

“My top priority is to make sure we’re doing everything we can to reignite the true engine of our economic growth, which is a rising, thriving middle class,” the president said. “A growing economy that creates good, middle class jobs–that’s got to be our true north; that should be driving our efforts every single day.”

Infrastructure investments will create construction jobs. The construction industry still has the highest unemployment of any industry after the crash of the housing market devastated it.

Infrastructure, the president said, lays the foundation for a growing economy.

“Are you going to set up shop in an economy that’s got raggedy roads? Runways that are pot-holed? Backed up supply chains? Or are you going to seek out high speed rails, internet, high tech schools, new state-of-the-art power grids. New ports that help you ship ports made in America to the rest of the world in the fastest way possible. That’s what CEOs are looking for,” he said.

His plan, dubbed “Partnership to Rebuild America”, creates an “infrastructure bank”–a $10 billion fund to pay for these investments. It will put higher caps on private activity bonds, which encourage private investment in public works, and giving foreign pensions tax exemptions on U.S. infrastructure investments. U.S. pension funds are already exempt in those investments and the administration says international pension funds avoid these investments because of the tax burden.

“Let’s prove there’s no better place to do business than right here in the United States of America,” he said to cheers.

He also highlighted some recent infrastructure investments, which had repaired thousands of miles of roads 20,000 bridges, and put tens of thousands of workers back to work, and noting that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the country the best grade they’ve given the country on infrastructure in 12 years.

“That’s the good news. The bad news is we went from a D to a D+.”

The president spoke from Port Miami, one of the biggest infrastructure investments in America, that combines private and public funding to update the port and create a tunnel that connects the port directly to the highway.

“We can do this here not just in Miami, we can do this all around the country.”

Obama pitches to boost infrastructure spending

Updated