President Obama proposed to spend $50 billion to "jumpstart" construction of roads, railways and airport runways, the White House said, and pair it with "a long-term framework to reform and expand our nation's investment in transportation infrastructure."
The plan links the new spending to a broader effort to get a multi-year surface transportation bill through Congress. Various freight groups have for months urged the administration to get behind a push for a new bill before the current federal surface spending programs expire at the end of December.
But "to jumpstart job creation, this long-run policy front-loads - through a $50 billion up-front investment - a significant share of the new infrastructure resources," the White House said. It added that the administration will work with Congress to fully fund the plan, although reports said planners are eyeing new taxes on oil and gas companies to cover the costs.
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The plan aims to build on the infrastructure money from last year's stimulus law that is still funding thousands of transportation projects across the states, but would top the $48 billion that the Department of Transportation has to spend under that 2009 measure. It is part of a reported $350 billion package that includes a 100 percent tax credit for business investments in plant and equipment through 2011 and a permanent research tax credit.
It also revives a key administration budget proposal to create a permanent infrastructure bank that allows the DOT to make ongoing project grant and loan decisions, something Congress has so far failed to approve.
Obama announced the plan during a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee, and the White House separately issued more details. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis accompanied Obama at the Milwaukee event.
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