In a speech in Miami today, US President Barack Obama promoted his administration’s latest plan to upgrade America’s aging bridges, roads, ports, railways and electricity grid.
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Dubbed the Partnership to Rebuild America, the $21 billion program has been crafted to encourage private capital to help build the nation’s infrastructure.
Under the plan, the administration is asking Congress to approve a new National Infrastructure Bank capitalized with $10 billion that will issue loans or loan guarantees to projects of at least $100 million in size that have a clear public benefit nationally or regionally, Obama said.
The administration also wants to create a new bond program that will fund infrastructure development, as well as introduce tax incentives to encourage foreign investors to get involved in US building projects.
In addition, the plan would provide $4 billion more for programs that provide states and localities with grants and loans for transportation projects.
Speaking at the site of a tunnel project that will connect Port Miami to the interstate highway system, Obama said, "You ask any CEO where they’d rather locate their business and hire new workers. Are you going to set up shop in a country that's got raggedy roads, runways that are pot-holed and backed-up supply chains?”
He continued: "We still have too many ports that aren’t equipped for today’s world commerce. We’ve still got too many rail lines that are too slow and clogged up. We’ve still got too many roads that are in disrepair, too many bridges that aren’t safe. We don’t have to accept that for America. We can do better. We can build better. And in a time of tight budgets, we’ve got to do it in a way that makes sure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely."
Obama’s emphasis on private investment to fund new construction projects is a nod to political reality. Congress, particularly the Republican-led House, has shown no appetite for major new spending.