Will Obama’s $302 Billion Plea for New Infrastructure Help Create Jobs?

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During a Wednesday appearance at the historic Union Depot rail and bus station in St. Paul, Minnesota, President Barack Obama is expected to ask Congress for $302 billion to update the country’s decaying transportation infrastructure. He will outline a four-year proposal that could be essential in maintaining the nation’s roadways; government officials have estimated the Highway Trust Fund — which finances federal highway and transit programs — will be insolvent as early as August. According to the Washington Post, the fund needs at least $100 billion over the next six years just to maintain current spending levels.

Obama’s plan to repair crumbling roads, railways, and bridges would be funded in part by a corporate tax overhaul that leading lawmakers in the Senate have already said is unlikely to pass this year. Still, the tour of the recently renovated St. Paul train station is meant to exhibit how federal spending has breathed new life into the transportation infrastructure of the Midwest and convince Congress to take up a major transportation bill this year. If the legislative body does not act and infrastructure programs repairing roads and bridges are allowed to expire, 700,000 jobs will be at risk, Obama will explain Wednesday. For reference, that figure — 700,000 lost jobs — equals the number of private-sector jobs eliminated by the United States economy per month in late 2008 and early 2009.

Lawmakers may say that the president’s concern for transportation jobs may be rather premature; the transportation law currently on the books will not expire until the end of of September, and Congress has begun formulating a reauthorization plan.

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