President Obama spoke today at the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department Legislative Conference in Washington, asking Republicans to stop blocking infrastructure and transportation projects. (See transcript here.) These projects would immediately create jobs, which would immediately start reducing the country’s deficit — which is probably why Republicans are blocking them.
There are millions of infrastructure jobs that absolutely need doing. There are millions of people out of work who really, really need jobs. On top of that the cost of financing is the lowest ever. So maintaining and modernizing our infrastructure would immediately put millions of people to work. But wait, there’s more! Modernizing our infrastructure would make our economy more efficient and our businesses more competitive, bringing returns for decades. So, of course, with all these points going for it Republicans are blocking it.
We have been deferring infrastructure maintenance since the Reagan years, but in recent years Republicans have doubled down on blocking public investment, calling it “just more government spending” and even “socialism.” And, they complain, construction projects help union members.
So Republicans have blocked bill after bill to repair and modernize the infrastructure, or to maintain and modernize out aging transportation system, build high-speed rail, etc. The President discussed this obstruction in his speech today,
…over the last year, I’ve sent Congress a whole series of jobs bills that would have put your members back to work. But time after time, Republicans have gotten together and said “no.” I sent them a jobs bill that would have put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back to work repairing our roads, bridges, schools and transit systems, along with saving the jobs of cops, teachers, and firefighters, and creating a new tax cut for businesses. They said “no.” Then, I sent them just the part of that bill that would have created those construction jobs. They said “no.” And we’re seeing it again right now. As we speak, House Republicans are refusing to pass a bipartisan bill that could guarantee work for millions of construction workers. Seeing a pattern here? That makes no sense. Congress should do the right thing and pass this bill right away.
Our aging infrastructure costs our economy. As things break down it gets harder to get things done. It is harder to start new businesses and our businesses are less competitive in the world. Shipments are delayed, etc.
There are other costs. Cars have to be repaired from driving on our substandard roads, people have to pay higher fuel costs as they try to get where they are going on clogged streets or taking detours around closed bridges, etc. People’s time is wasted, which also costs. As we move toward third-world status property values decline, we lose tourism, etc.
“There are bridges between Kentucky and Ohio where some of the key Republican leadership come from, where folks are having to do detours an extra hour and half drive every day on their commute because these bridges don’t work,” Obama said in a speech to the Building and Construction Trades Department Legislative Conference in Washington. “Time after time, the Republicans have gotten together and they’ve said no,” he said.
The Missed Opportunity
This infrastructure work has to get done at some point, and gets more expensive the longer we put it off. It not only gets more and more expensive to do this work the longer it is put off, but we are falling far behind our economic competitors as we fail to modernize.
But here’s the thing—as a share of the economy, Europe invests more than twice what we do in infrastructure; China about four times as much. Are we going to sit back and let other countries build the newest airports and the fastest railroads and the most modern schools, at a time when we’ve got private construction companies all over the world—or all over the country—and millions of workers who are ready and willing to do that work right here in the United States of America?
Jobs Fix Defitics
Jobs fix deficits. People are paying income taxes instead of collecting unemployment benefits or food stamps, they are spending their paychecks and the stores are paying taxes, etc. So government revenues are up and payouts are down.
This is why the deficit is jobs, but there is a deficit of jobs.
If you want to fix the deficit problem you have get people working again. And since we have to maintain and modernize the aging infrastructure anyway, then let’s get people working on … maintaining and modernizing the aging infrastructure!
Take Back The American Dream Conference
This and other issues will be talked about and worked on at the Take Back The American Dream Conference, June 18-20 in Washington DC.
This is where you need to be to forge the relationships and develop the strategies to change the direction of the country.
At this conference, we’ll be tackling some of the most pressing questions we face today:
- How do we compel candidates to embrace a jobs agenda big enough to end our economic crisis?
- How can we stop unlimited corporate campaign cash from buying this election?
- How many progressive champions can we help win in congressional, state and local races?
- How will we take back our democracy—to Take Back the American Dream?
Be part of the American Dream movement. Join Campaign for America’s Future, Rebuild the Dream, Progressive Majority and many other groups—and thousands of progressive activists—at the Take Back the American Dream conference.