President Obama: Aging infrastructre is "drag on our...economy"
President Barack Obama speaks in front of Key Bridge at the Georgetown Waterfront Park November 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. Obama urged members of Congress to pass infrastructure portions of the American Jobs Act.
November 2nd, 2011
03:04 PM ET

President Obama: Aging infrastructre is "drag on our...economy"

This morning President Obama visited yet another deficient bridge to continue his push for increased infrastructure spending. Choosing a location a little closer to home this time, the president spoke in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington D.C., citing the bridge behind him as an example of why Congress must act on funding for roads and bridges, but reiterating that "if they won't act, I will."

“It's the Key Bridge; one of the five major bridges that connect the Commonwealth of Virginia to Washington DC,” the president said. “Two of these five bridges are rated structurally deficient, which is a fancy way of saying you can drive on them but they need repair. Nearly 120,000 vehicles cross these two bridges every single day carrying hundreds of thousands of commuters and families and children.”

As part of his new ‘we can’t wait’ campaign, President Obama also unveiled today that he was pushing a new initiative to get federal money to infrastructure projects faster, telling several hundred unemployed construction workers and representatives from the labor, business and infrastructure communities that “if there's money already in the pipeline, we want to get it out faster.”

Continuing his attacks on Congress, the president pointed to a vote this week on the infrastructure portion of his American Jobs Act, saying that this week “Congress has another chance.” He went on to cite two recent votes creating a commemorative coin for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and reaffirming “In God we trust” as the nation's motto as proof that Members of Congress had plenty of time to take up what proposals he argued will help create jobs.

“I can't imagine that Speaker Boehner wants to represent a state where nearly one in four bridges is classified as substandard,” the president said. “I'm sure that the Speaker of the House would want to have bridges and roads in his state that are up to par. When the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell visited that closed bridge in Kentucky that I was talking about, he admitted 'look – roads and bridges are not partisan in Washington' – that's a quote from him.

“Paul Ryan the Republican in charge of the budget process recently said 'that you can't deny that infrastructure does create jobs.’ Okay, so if the Speaker of the House, the Republican leader in the Senate, all the Democrats all say that this is important to do, why aren't we doing it? What's holding us back? Lets get moving and put America back to work.”

Topics: jobs • President Obama

soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Dylan


    November 2, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  2. jerry

    Mr obama...yes, we can wait. No, you can't spend dollars we don't have. No, you need to go back to where you came from next november...tjhank you and good night.

    November 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • jean2009

      Obama- Biden 2012

      November 2, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
      • Howard


        November 2, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
      • truindep

        howard I so agree, and jeanie and the rest of you gals, stay in the kitchen

        November 2, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
      • jean2009

        @truindep I will stay where I please... and you can stay in the dog house. Thank you very much...Obama-Biden 2012

        November 3, 2011 at 9:56 am |
    • truth seeker

      The correct term is President Obama.
      America doesnt have the money because Bush spent all of it. FACT

      November 2, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
      • John

        So you agree with the repubs and disagree with BO? Bush was bad for America. BO is worse.

        November 3, 2011 at 7:04 am |
      • jean2009

        G. W. Bush was horrible for American and President Obama is good.

        November 3, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    Lame excuse to squander more money, for nothing.

    November 2, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
    • truth seeker

      I guess hiring americans to build bridges is an excuse to "squander money".
      Wake up

      November 2, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Mildly Amused

      Yes, what a lame excuse to squander money. Who needs safe bridges and roadways, anyway? We can all just walk to work and carry our groceries in a mule drawn wagons, of course. Who needs functioning electrical distribution, we'll just use candles to see at work and at school, huh? Who needs to use computers anyway? We should save all of the government's money so we can GIVE it all to the RICH! Those poor top 1% have it SOoooo bad, oh my!

      November 2, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
      • jean2009

        Thanks but you know you are trying to convince idiots. They would rather let our infrastructure rot than agree with anything this president says. They would rather listen to the last dope that caused the problems. Basically the 1% is bankrupting the country just like they bankrupted their businesses to feed the greedy CEO's at the top. .
        Hogs at the trough is a gentle way of putting it.

        November 2, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
      • John

        Jean, there you go spewing hate again. We just spent 7 billion on the last stimulas to take care of the same things BO is talking about here. You want to give this administration tens of billions more to do what they said would have been done. I guess shovel ready means the shovel ready stuff BO is telling you.
        The Dems are the true party of hate – read Jean2009's comments or watch MSDNC for 10 minutes i.e. Sharpton, Schultz and Odonnel, and you will have no doubt.

        November 3, 2011 at 7:10 am |
      • John

        Mildly Amused – the point is this administration keeps spending money and we get no roads, just more union fat cats. Someone finally took down the sign on a highway I take every day that said "Your Stimulas Dollars At Work". I never saw any work being done so I figure they meant making the sign and putting up the sign.

        November 3, 2011 at 7:14 am |
      • jean2009

        @ John
        Spending money on infrastructure is never silly or wasted...spending money on looking for non-existent WMD is. This country needs revitalized infrastructure regardless of the cost, and the money spent to build it will provide jobs, provide permanent structures, that will provide benefits for years to come. Personally knowing something about the construction trade, the absolute best time financially to build is in a down economy when building contractors need the work to keep afloat.

        Since you seem to think you are so wise, pray tell what did those non-existent WMD provide of a long term beneficial nature? It is obvious you didn't speak up and say anything about G.W. Bush wasting TRILLIONS for that non-productive search. You haven't a word to say about the $9 Billion of U.S. taxpayers money that was lost and unaccounted for during the Iraq War.

        So frankly I don't think you have a leg to stand on to make comments.

        November 3, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • I love Potholes and Flat tires

      Is that a joke? (I hope) I cannot think of a single thing that would be MORE important than our Nation's Utilities and Transportation Infrastructure ! Without it, we have no economy, no mobility, no security, No defense, No way to distribute goods, No way to provide emergency help for ANYONE! Infrastructure would have to be the #1 best thing to spend money on to protect our country! ...

      November 2, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
      • John

        Really, how about clean air, clean water, police to watch the flea party, more union contracts, more shovel ready projects, more money for Fast and Furious, more money for so called "Green Companies", how about millions for the CEO's of Freddy and Fanny, more TARP, more stimulas, a jobs program that only creates jobs for governmnet/union workers. After all, you have heard the leader of the Senate the the VP saying private sector jobs are ok. I think you get the point. This administration and the last has killed this country. It is time to stop the spending.

        November 3, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • Bill in STL

      So let me get this straight... You think it is the job of the federal government to fix the electrical grid .... how will that happen? The federal government does not own the electric companies.... yet.... they would have to nationalize those utilites first. You think that roads are the responsibility of the federal gevernment... The federal government would have to do away with state gevernment because those are the responsibility of the individual states, granted there are federal dollars already available but that is not good enough.

      So what you are proposing is socialism.... and Jean bless her heart is right there with you....

      November 2, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
      • jean2009

        @ Bill in STL
        Yes, the electric grid is a part of what is referred to as public utilities....just like natural gas, water and sewage. Normally they are regulated by a public utilities commission. I would suggest reading about the Federal Government Public Utilities. Many are government operated and owned monopolies.
        I would also bone-up on the Tennessee Valley Authority.

        The founding fathers (since you are so fond of referring to them) determined that certain things were beneficial for all citizens and passed laws to raise taxes to pay for those things: Public roads, bridges, libraries, postal services, and fire stations...I assume that since electric grids, natural gas, rails, airplanes, the need for water purification, and electronic communications were not something the founding fathers had much knowledge of; that if those things had existed they would have been included as vital.

        Recommended reading: Soda Head: Where the Founding Fathers Socialist. posted Nov. 28, 2010.

        Regardless of how uneducated you seem to be; I will keep repeating we are a socialist country in many aspects, and our founding fathers planned it that way.

        November 3, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • midwestmoderate

      Squander? Lets allow our bridges to deteriorate to the point that they collapse and kill people like what happened in the Twin Cities awhile back. Remember that?? Yea that sounds like a brilliant idea......

      November 3, 2011 at 12:18 am |
      • John

        How many billions did Minn get in tolls, federal money and state taxes for roads? That is the point. Current funds need to be allocated to the things (roads) they are suppose to be allocated to. Everything is an emergency with this administration.

        November 3, 2011 at 7:24 am |
      • jean2009

        @John the only reason it is a critical emergency is the Bush administration spent 8 years cutting that now everything is in a crisis that is what happens when you let everything rot to give tax breaks to the 1%.

        November 3, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  4. Curtis Farnham

    Spending more money is not the answer, Mr. Obama. Relatively speaking, our infrastructure is fine. It's our budget that's structurally deficient.

    November 2, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Working Class American

      Correct, good sir. How can we spend money on our infrastructure when we spend it all on enormous subsidies and tax breaks for billionaire run corporations? The GOP uses buzzwords like "Job Creators" and "Business Owners" to make it seem like they're out for your best interests- but the only jobs they create are jobs overseas through outsourcing!

      You'll never hear a republican say that tax credits and subsidies are government SPENDING- but we all know it costs a lot more money than it ever would to fix a few bridges. We need to stop coddling these billionaires and build up the middle class again.

      November 3, 2011 at 9:48 am |

    i don't no what to thank about these people what do they wont.tell the trouth they sound to smart

    November 2, 2011 at 10:46 pm |

    this prresident has tryed hard to help the people in this country but couse he is black the GOP won'ts read of him no matter what he does.but you will not get read of him the way i see it the GOP larty is about over with

    November 2, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  7. Lefty

    Actually the better question to ask is "What are they doing with the money I already pay for vehicle reg, tolls, etc?" Why do they ALWAYS want more of my money?

    November 3, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • Working Class American

      They're spending it on enormous tax credits for millionaires.

      What happened to that old GOP motto: "DIY or DIE"? Because as far as I can tell these corporate fat cats aren't doing anything on their own- they're being supported with our money. What we need to do is reprioritize where our money goes. Stop millionair and billionaire tax breaks!

      To put that in perspective- one tax credit for a millionaire could probably pay two or three government workers for an entire year! With full benefits! Wake up, people! The middle class is vanishing!

      November 3, 2011 at 9:42 am |
      • jean2009

        @ Dean
        Obama isn't a failure...haven't you noticed the unemployment rate is slowing going down, the GDP is going up, the stimulus worked....all of which would not have been necessary had GW.Bush not been such a failure.

        I notice you spend a lot of time on here whining. Fact: I do not do potholes...although sometimes what I do comes pretty close, but I do a lot to help the community where I live. Saying that I will ask....tell me where have you volunteered your time during the last year, month, week, or 20 to 25 years?

        November 4, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • jean2009

      So you really think the cost to produce your license plate, drivers license, tolls, etc really is all it takes to maintain old and build new roads? How much do you think it cost in manufacturing and administration to provide you a valid tag, license, and collect and tally tolls? What about other taxes that support roads?

      From 2001-2008 the Bush Administration created a major structural budget deficit, with tax cuts that drove up consumer spending, (remember his mantra "go shopping" ). His low tax policy was geared to kick the can down the road which would penalize future generations. Those tax cuts for the 1% are something that we our children and grandchildren will be saddled with....paying the interest on the debt is staggering. It is absolutely impossible to address that cost without increasing taxes and without putting people back to work.

      November 3, 2011 at 11:19 am |
      • Dean

        You shouldn't spend so much time online trying to convince yourself that Obama is anything but a failure. Go out and fill some potholes.

        November 3, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
      • jean2009

        @ Dean
        I notice you spend a lot of time on here posting. Actually what have you done? Have you donated any time to a worthwhile cause this week?
        Obama-Biden 2012

        November 4, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
  8. Ray E. Georgia

    The Budget was blown on Entitilements. Now no money for Roads and Bridges? But, Hi-Yo silver, Away! On to Obama Care! Just add Roads and Bridges to Obama Care, the problem is solved! Hi-Yo Silver! Away!

    November 3, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  9. A

    This host shows Obama only cares about union jobs and not small businesses, how about trying to lower energy cost and fuel prices that will help the economy more

    November 3, 2011 at 10:45 am |
  10. Lefty

    I think that because that's what we've been told over the years. We were told some of the gasoline tax was also supposed to go towards roads and bridges. Somebody is siphoning away this money and rather than look into that, you want to spend more new money instead.

    November 3, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  11. Peg - Az

    Obama has a really good point here about increasing spending on infrastructure. There is a lot of history, and economic data, to back this up. Politicians have often been pointing to the late 1940's 50's and 60's as an example of our "boom" years. "We need to get back to that type of thriving economy and lower crime rates," they say. Well, has anyone bothered to look at the economic data from that era? By the end of WWII, in the later part of the 1940's we had more than doubled our national debt to GDP from where it had been during the depression years. National Debt to GDP was even far worse than today, and well over 100% to GDP (around 120%). Yet we had "boom' years that followed. In addition, federal spending to GDP remained, for those decades, more than double what it had been during the Great Depression. Revenues to GDP more than doubled and we had some of the highest tax rates in history as well. The late. 40's, 50's, and 60's were essentially huge decades of tax and spend creating a huge cold war economy (huge military-industrial complex) combined with the expense of Vietnam, Korea, and the Apollo Missions. During these years, we built and paid for an enormous amount of things we never used and created many good paying jobs in the aerospace industry. These decades also had the largest percentage of union workers. This expansion of our economy along with increased revenues allowed us to greatly reduce debt to GDP. The fact is simply that our government is a huge and important part of our economy. When aerospace took a decline after our last mission to the moon, our economy went into the recession of the latter half of the 1970's.

    Even Reagan greatly increased spending to GDP get us out of that recession, the problem is he also greatly cut revenues to GDP as did the more recent Bush. This caused our deficits and our debt to GDP to really begin to skyrocket for the first time since WWII.
    So, the idea that we should increase revenue and also engage in infrastructure spending today as a way to help get us out of this recession, is a good one, in my opinion. This potentially can mirror the economy of the post WWII era, as we grow the economy to pay down our debt to GDP. As we reduce our military engagement overseas, we should create an infrastructure-industrial complex, that is similar, but smaller in scope, to the military-industrial complex of the cold-war era (it does not need to be as big, because we still have a large military-industrial complex). But instead of a huge aerospace industry, we should have a huge industry based around architecture and engineering and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

    This growth in our economy combined with increases in revenue will mirror the boom years of the post WWII era and has the same potential to pay down our debt.This will also create the good paying jobs that our returning veterans deserve. Good jobs like those that awaited those returning from WWII and Korea, those vets often went back to college on the G.I. Bill, and then became engineers and other professionals. Many, like my father, got good paying jobs, and were responsible for sending the first man to the moon.

    November 3, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Peg - Az

      We also developed the research and technology of the future during the period of the 40's, 50's and 60's – when I said we made a lot of things we did not use, I meant that with military spending, it often spurs the economy, regardless of what is being created.

      November 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm |