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President Obama urges transportation investment

(The following story by R.G. Edmonson appeared on The Journal of Commerce website on October 11, 2010.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Obama called Monday for sweeping investment in infrastructure, putting new urgency to his pledge of more funding and jobs through a broad national plan for transportation.

His renewed call came as the White House issued a report saying that transportation investment would have long term economic benefits for the country and meet a strong public demand for additional infrastructure investment.

The Treasury Department and the Council of Economic Advisers issued the report at a high-level meeting attended by cabinet secretaries, governors and mayors. The White House said the report was an extension of President Obama's Labor Day speech in which he pledged $50 billion in up-front infrastructure spending as part of a six-year comprehensive transportation plan.

"We need a new plan for America's roads, rails and runways for the long-term," the president said. "By making these investments across the country, we won't just make our economy run better over the long haul - we'll create good, middle-class jobs right now."

The Treasury report estimates that 80 percent of the jobs created by infrastructure investment will be in the construction, manufacturing and retail trade sectors. The investment would have a "high bang for the buck," because construction costs are low.

The report found that the middle class will be the primary beneficiaries of transportation investment. It would create jobs in construction, where unemployment is now 15 percent, one and a half times the national average.

It also calls for the creation of an infrastructure bank to attract private investment and a formal agreement between the departments of Transportation and Commerce to develop a national freight policy.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

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