WisBusiness: Obama calls for $50 billion investment in roads, rails, runways

MILWAUKEE — President Obama on Monday proposed a $50 billion plan to rebuild America’s roads, rails and runways, calling it an investment that will move the country’s economy forward and leave the next generation something lasting.

Obama’s Labor Day speech to a union crowd mixed his proposal to invest in the country’s infrastructure with an ode to the middle class and a series of swipes at Republicans. The president told the union crowd “you’re the reason I’m here” as he promised to fight for the country’s middle class.

His infrastructure proposal builds on the economic stimulus package the administration pushed through last year and includes a six-year plan to rebuild 150,000 miles of roads, construct and maintain 4,000 miles of rail, and rehabilitate and construct 150 miles of runways. It also calls for a next generation air-traffic control system to reduce travel time and delays.

The plan includes establishing an Infrastructure Bank that the administration said would focus on investments of national and regional significance.

With the polls showing the public uneasy over government spending and debt, the president promised that his plan will be fully paid for and will not add to the deficit over time.

“I want America to have the best infrastructure in the world,” Obama told the crowd.

Republicans immediately pounced on the news as another sign of wasteful spending by the administration and declared it was evidence that last year’s stimulus package was a failure.

“These guys couldn’t find $50 billion in the trillions they’ve already spent?” said state GOP Chair Reince Priebus ahead of the president’s speech. “The whole thing is absurd. We’re upside down in this country, and this isn’t going to do a thing to change that.”

Read complete WisPolitics.com coverage of the speech