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Obama asks for $50b


rhondathompson, [email protected]

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WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is asking Congress to approve at least $50 billion in long-term investments in the country’s roads, railways and runways in a pre-election effort to show he’s trying to stimulate the sputtering economy.
The infrastructure investments are one part of a package of targeted proposals the White House is expected to announce in hopes of jump-starting the economy ahead of the November election. Obama will outline the infrastructure proposal Monday at an event in Milwaukee marking the Labour Day holiday in the United States.
The proposals would require congressional approval, which is highly uncertain at a time when many legislators and voters are worried about adding to federal deficits that are already sky-high.
While the proposal calls for investments over six years, the White House said spending would be front-loaded with an initial $50 billion to help create jobs in the near future.
The goals of the infrastructure plan include: rebuilding 150 000 miles (241 000 kilometres) of roads; constructing and maintaining 4 000 miles (6 400 kilometers) of railways, enough to go coast-to-coast; and rehabilitating or reconstructing 150 miles (240 kilometers) of airport runways, while also installing a new air navigation system designed to reduce travel times and delays.
Obama will also call for the creation of a permanent infrastructure bank that would focus on funding national and regional infrastructure projects.
Officials wouldn’t say what the total cost of the infrastructure investments would be, but did say the initial $50 billion represents a significant percentage. Officials said the White House would consider closing a number of special tax breaks for oil and gas companies to pay for the proposal.
Obama made infrastructure investments a central part of the $814 billion stimulus Congress passed last year, but with that spending winding down, the economy’s growth has slowed. Officials said this infrastructure package differs from the stimulus because it’s aimed at long-term growth, while still focusing on creating jobs in the short-term.
 In an interview Monday on CBS television, Labour Secretary Hilda Solis said the plan Obama was to unveil Monday would “put construction workers, welders, electricians back to work. . . folks that have been unemployed for a long time.” (AP)

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