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Obama Touts Infrastructure Plan for Economy

September 6, 2010 at 6:26 PM EST
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President Obama spent Labor Day in the Midwest and introduced a new $50 billion infrastructure proposal that he says will create new jobs. Jeffrey Brown has more.
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JEFFREY BROWN: President Obama spent this Labor Day in the Midwest to rally with union members and unveil a new plan to promote job growth. But even as he sharpened his focus on the economy, his political opponents sharpened their responses.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

Around the nation this holiday, parades, barbecues and a continuing unease over the dismal jobs market. Coming just after Friday’s report showing unemployment had edged up again to 9.6 percent, this was a Labor Day in which the state of the American work force was very much front and center.

With that in mind and with a midterm election just two months off, President Obama went to Milwaukee today to announce his latest effort to kick-start the economy and create jobs.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I am announcing a new plan for rebuilding and modernizing America’s roads and rails and runways for the long term!

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JEFFREY BROWN: The president’s $50 billion infrastructure proposal would be part of a larger six-year transportation package, among its goals, rebuild 150,000 miles of roads, construct and maintain 4,000 miles of railways, including high-speed rail projects, and reconstruct 150 miles of airport runways, while also modernizing the nation’s air traffic control system.

The president insisted the plan would be fully paid for. Administration officials said he will push to close tax breaks for oil and gas companies. And he cast it as a crucial long-term investment.

BARACK OBAMA: It’s a plan that says, even in the aftermath of the worst recession in our lifetimes, America can still shape our own destiny. We can still move this country forward. We can still leave our children something better. We can still leave them something that lasts.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JEFFREY BROWN: But attracting that bipartisan support is unlikely. And there was immediate pushback. In a statement, House Republican Leader John Boehner blasted the plan, saying: “We don’t need more government stimulus spending. We need to end Washington Democrats’ out-of-control spending spree, stop their tax hikes, and create jobs by eliminating the job-killing uncertainty that is hampering our small businesses.”

Looking ahead, the policy proposals and politicking will continue in coming days. On Wednesday, the president is expected to unveil a $100 billion proposal to increase and make permanent research and development tax credits for small businesses.

Arizona Republican John McCain was asked about that during an appearance yesterday on “FOX News Sunday.”

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-Ariz.): Well, my reaction is that we always like to see deathbed conversions, but the fact is, if we had done this kind of thing nearly a couple of years ago, we would be in a lot better shape. Look, they’re just flailing around.

JEFFREY BROWN: But, on the same program, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine disputed McCain’s contention.

TIM KAINE, chairman, Democratic National Committee: So, the president, when he announces steps, it’s not a deathbed conversions. There have been a series of tax cuts for businesses. But, in looking at the pace of recovery, thank goodness we’re not shrinking. We’re growing.

JEFFREY BROWN: On Friday, the president will aim to reassure the public of his focus on the economy in a different forum, in a news conference at the White House.