Obama pitches highway infrastructure spending

Obama pitches highway infrastructure spending

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama laid out an expansive blueprint for how the United States can “outbuild” other nations and so expand-- and strengthen-- its economy well beyond the ongoing recovery from the Great Recession

Credit: The White House

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama laid out an expansive blueprint for how the United States can “outbuild” other nations and so expand-- and strengthen-- its economy well beyond the ongoing recovery from the Great Recession.

The biggest take-aways for trucking were bold proposals on R&D and infrastructure investments:

  • “ This is our generation’s Sputnik moment,” Obama declared. “Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. And in a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology-– an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people…. “With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015,” he added.
  • Obama stated that “…we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow… So over the last two years, we’ve begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. “I’m proposing that we redouble those efforts,” he continued. “We’ll put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We’ll make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based [on] what’s best for the economy, not politicians.”

Other areas of national concern the President remarked on included his exhortation for Congress to simplify the federal tax code. He said that “…over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change. So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years –- without adding to our deficit. It can be done.”

According to the White House, the address was generally well received by national news media reports, The speech was certainly notable for Obama’s almost constant pleas if not demands that bipartisanship within both houses of Congress and between Capitol Hill and the White House was the single most important ingredient to ensuring that America’s economy will move forward enough and fast enough to keep the U.S. ahead of its global competitors.

See the 2011 State of the Union address

Among interested parties to respond quickly to the speech was the Assn. of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM), which this morning unequivocally called for “immediate bipartisan action on infrastructure [and] job creation” in response to State of the Union. The international trade group represents off-road equipment makers.

"Last night's State of the Union address was the first in more than a decade to address America's broken transportation system,” said AEM president Dennis Slater. “To compete globally, America's farmers and manufacturers need the White House and Congress to cooperate on new policies that repair and modernize transportation infrastructure – an issue American voters agree is an essential investment in our country, and an immediate means to job creation.

"The stark reality of the U.S. economy is that it cannot survive without a thriving agriculture and manufacturing base,” he continued. “Our nation's infrastructure has been deteriorating for decades and is a roadblock to commerce that hurts America's farmers and manufacturers. The need to repair and modernize the nation's roads is urgent.

“AEM will hold President Obama accountable to, and looks forward to working with him to achieve, his promise of redoubling the efforts to rebuild our nation's infrastructure and 'put Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges.' We support the president's proposal to 'make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what's best for the economy, not politicians,’” said Slater.

"After urgently making the case for years that rebuilding and modernizing America's infrastructure for the 21st century will create jobs and serve as a crucial investment in our global competitiveness, America's manufacturers now look to Congress to pass a surface transportation bill that will put thousands of Americans back to work repairing and rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges,” Slater added.

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