Obama Calls for More Federal Money for Roads, Bridges and Airports to Create Jobs

By Terence P. Jeffrey | August 7, 2011 | 6:23pm EDT

President Barack Obama meets with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in the White House on Aug. 4, 2011. (White House photo/Pete Souza)

(CNSNews.com) - In his weekly address on Saturday, President Barack Obama called for Congress to approve more money for a new—and vaguely defined—program to repair roads, bridges and airports as a means of creating jobs for construction workers.

The program, Obama said, would create jobs for workers who used to build houses by “by giving loans to companies that want to repair our roads and bridges and airports.”

The president did not explain how loaning money to a company that wants to help repair a road, bridge or airport would cause more roads, bridges or airports to be repaired and thus necessitate the hiring of more construction workers to repair them.

He also gave no details of the loan program he envisions—who would qualify for a government loan under it or on what terms the lenders would pay the taxpayers back.

However, he did call the loans one of the “commonsense steps” he is proposing to get the American economy growing again.

“And we ought to give more opportunities to all those construction workers who lost their jobs when the housing boom went bust,” Obama said in his address. “We could put them to work right now, by giving loans to companies that want to repair our roads and bridges and airports, helping to rebuild America.

Obama also called for extending “tax cuts for working and middle class families”—by which he presumably meant a cut in the payroll tax that funds Social Security and Medicare—as well as a new tax credit for employers who hire veterans and a further extension of unemployment benefits so that people who are not working can continue collecting checks from the government.

Obama additionally called for Congress to approve new international trade agreements.

Obama said these “commonsense steps” will help the economy and lead America to a “brighter day.”

“Those are a few commonsense steps that would help the economy.  And these are ideas that have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans in the past,” said Obama.  “So I’m going to keep calling on both parties in Congress to put aside their differences and send these bills to my desk so I can sign them right away.”

“That’s the spirit we need in Washington right now,” said Obama. “That’s how we’ll get this economy growing faster and reach a brighter day.”

In February 2009, Obama signed an economic stimulus law that the Congressional Budget Office initially said would cost $787 billion, but then eventually determined would cost $830 billion. Before Obama signed that $830 billion law, his top economic advisers said it would keep unemployment below 8 percent in America.

Shortly after Obama signed the $820 billion stimulus, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment had risen from 7.8 percent in January 2009, the month Obama was inaugurated, to 8.2 percent in February 2009, the month he signed the stimulus. Since then, unemployment has remained above 8 percent for 30 straight months. In July, the most recent month reported, unemployment was 9.1 percent.

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