Obama Takes Another Swing at $50 Billion in Infrastructure Spending

President Obama is pressing for infrastructure investment again as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations. The president kicked off talks calling for an end to the debt ceiling, the extension of middle-class tax cuts, and $50 billion in infrastructure spending — a proposal that first arose last year as part of his ultimately unsuccessful American Jobs Act.

President Obama making his pitch for a $50 billion infrastructure spending package in 2011. Photo: ##http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/obama-throws-down-the-political-gauntlet-on-deficit-fight/2011/09/19/gIQA5YiQfK_blog.html?hpid=z1##Chip Somodevilla/Getty##

The Wall Street Journal called the President’s proposals “a particularly expansive version of the White House’s wish list” and “a potential starting point for negotiations.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was predictably opposed to the spending package, but the White House has held firm so far. National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling defended the seriousness of the proposal on a political talk show, Bloomberg News reports. “Those type of measures need to be part of” a deal, he said.

The Christian Science Monitor wrote that the stimulus spending was likely meant to counteract whatever economy-depressing effects might result from the most contentious portion of the deal: the President’s plans to let Bush-era tax breaks expire for those making more than $250,000 annually.

It’s not clear how the funding in the President’s proposal would be divvied up, but when Obama last proposed a $50 billion infrastructure package, it included $9 billion for transit and $4 billion for high-speed rail, as well as funding for the TIGER program. More than half would have gone to roads.

Then as now, it was difficult to tell whether the road funding would fuel sprawl. While the White House said the funding would have gone to existing infrastructure that receives a “D” grade for disrepair from the American Society of Civil Engineers, Obama touted the proposal by visiting the site of a road-widening mega-project, Cincinnati’s Brent Spence Bridge.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Obama’s plan is un-American.  We borrow for short term consumption, not for investment.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t call the last stimulus long-term investment: a lot of street paving which should be an ongoing expense, and most of the actual investments in new infrastructure were autocentric, which dig us deeper into our hole.  Any “infrastructure” spending which is substantially auto-centric and primarily short-term should be opposed.

  •  When I saw that picture in the local paper of him standing in front of the Brent Spence Bridge, I was sad. Some way to come to Cincy.

    We could build sooo much more in almost anything for that money. The cost of the proposed highway bridge addition is more than 30 years of our transit agencie’s entire operating budget. And this is what he comes to town to promote? And after our governor turned down 400,000,000 in money for rail?

    Welcome to Ohio. I hope you have a car. You’ll need it.

    Why can’t we just let the highways rot down to a lane or two and just repair those as needed?

  • Only $13 Billion out of $50 to transit. That’s pathetic.

    Obama is not a leader; he’s a campaigner. He doesn’t speak for progressives, he speaks for the Democratic machine.