President Barack Obama called together members of his cabinet, industry leaders, governors and mayors on Oct. 11 to discuss the economic impact of infrastructure investment. The tone was similar to the one heard on Labor Day, when President Obama announced his $50 billion transportation plan. However, this one was a little more serious in the wake of a new report from the Department of the Treasury with the Council of Economic Advisers, which found that 80% of the jobs directly created by investing in transportation infrastructure would be in the construction, manufacturing and retail trade sectors.
“We need a new plan for America’s roads, rails and runways for the long-term,” President Obama said. “By making these investments across the country, we won’t just make our economy run better over the long haul, we’ll create good, middle-class jobs right now.”
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as well as former DOT heads Norm Mineta and Samuel Skinner joined President Obama to hear the second call for transportation funding in a little over a month. However, the White House still has not convinced leaders in Congress that the $50 billion plan is the right way to go.
“Unfortunately, this last-minute report is a pitiful and tardy political excuse for the administration having killed last year any chance for a long-term transportation measure,” Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee’s Republican leader, said in a statement. “Once again, I remain committed and ready to talk, work and take action with these folks when they return to planet Earth with both feet on the ground.”
During the meeting, the Obama administration was hoping to get a snapshot of the current state of the transportation system in cities and states across the U.S., as well as the challenges those officials are facing.
“We know that upgrading our nation’s infrastructure is vital to our economy and our future competitiveness,” LaHood said. “And that’s why the President has laid out a bold new plan.”