3:59 p.m.: Obama says funding for these projects is going to be in jeopardy unless Congress passes a new transportation bill. Doesn’t go into details. “God Bless the United States of America,” and we’re out.
3:56 p.m.: People go wild for new Metro green line, which will run through Union Depot. Obama says he just got a look at those “spiffy new trains.” “You’ll be able to get from one end of town to another in 30 minutes. And here’s the best part: Not only have you made a more efficient transportation system… this Depot has also helped to boost economic development. Just across the street, the old post office building is becoming apartments and shops.”
3:54 p.m.: Obama: Infrastructure shouldn’t be a partisan issue. But some Republicans in Congress — it’s not that they don’t like roads; they just don’t want to pay for ’em. “While Congress is trying to decide what to do next, I’m going to do what I can to create good jobs. And that’s why I came to St. Paul. Because [Union Depot] symbolizes what’s possible.”
3:53 p.m.: Obama: I’m going to send Congress a budget with a four-year transportation budget to pay for investments by simplifying tax codes.
3:49 p.m.: Obama: Put America back to work by repairing America’s infrastructure. Housing bubble burst, construction workers were hit hard. Unemployment in that sector has been cut in half but still too high. 100,000 bridges old enough to qualify for Medicare. Minnesota winters mean potholes.
3:48 p.m.: “We can’t wait. We gotta move.” Obama reiterating new plan to bypass Congress where they move too slow.
3:46 p.m.: Populist rhetoric about income inequality from Obama. He says people at the top are doing better, people at the bottom are struggling to get by. “We’ve got to build an economy that works for everybody.”
3:44 p.m.: Obama gives shout-outs to former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, Rep. Betsy McCollum, former VP Walter Mondale, and Minnesotan Olympians from Obama. Excited about the tour he got of new light rail line.
3:41 p.m.: Crowd goes wild for Obama.
3:40 p.m.: “There will be a sixth round of TIGER this year.” — Foxx
3:37 p.m.: DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx is speaking. Saying St. Paul’s multimodal Union Depot, where they’re speaking, would have been just one more project collecting dust on a shelf if it weren’t for TIGER. Union Depot was completely renovated in 2012 thanks to a TIGER grant. Foxx is announcing $600 million in TIGER funding today.
3:34 p.m.: While it would seem to be a good sign that both the Democratic president and Republican Ways and Means chair agree on a mechanism to fund the Highway Trust Fund, it’s far from a done deal. Sen. Max Baucus, who was gung-ho about tax reform, has left the Finance Committee and the Senate to become ambassador to China. His replacement, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, is very progressive on transportation but not so keen on tackling tax reform just yet. Insiders say that even House Republicans may be hesitant to embrace Camp’s tax reform plan when it has so little chance of going anywhere in the Senate.
3:26 p.m.: Today, both President Obama and Republican House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp unveiled plans to pay for transportation with corporate tax reform. Few details have emerged about exactly how Camp plans to do this but Politico has heard from Capitol Hill staffers that it would push $100 billion to $125 billion to transportation. The bill’s main talking point is that it cuts the top corporate tax rate from 36 percent to 25 percent, and the details of how that is going to shake down into a windfall for transportation are still hazy.
We have a few more about Obama’s proposal. As we wait for the president to appear for his 3:05 appearance at St. Paul’s Union Depot — it’s now 3:28 — we can start to look into that plan.