Obama jobs plan just one concept to fund infrastructure

| 12/14/2009

President Obama’s plan to create and sustain jobs is one of several ideas in Washington aimed at improving infrastructure.

Obama unveiled the proposal on Tuesday, Dec. 8, with three areas of emphasis:

  • Helping small businesses with investing, hiring and accessing credit;
  • Investing in roads, bridges and infrastructure; and
  • Investing in clean energy and efficiency.

The language doesn’t include the word “stimulus,” but the plan sounds like a stimulus plan, says Mike Joyce, director of legislative affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“Obama has put out his guidelines for another stimulus package,” Joyce said. “His idea is for something like $50 billion for infrastructure projects.”

Whether it’s called a jobs plan or a stimulus plan, the proposal could provide help to truckers, Joyce says.

“It does help to create and sustain jobs if the resources are used in the right manner. We would support efforts to fund additional highway and bridge improvement projects,” Joyce said. “There are also some tax provisions included in Obama’s proposal that probably would be of help to our members.”

U.S. Reps. James Oberstar and Peter DeFazio of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee say a jobs bill should include at least $69.5 billion for highway and bridge projects.

As talk of a job bill – or stimulus – continues, Congress must also act this week to keep government functioning during the short-term. That process involves passing a continuing resolution to replace the current resolution that expires Friday, Dec. 18.

“The bottom line is, there’s a whole bunch of things in the mix right now,” Joyce said.

The Senate’s priority right now is to pass a health care bill, but proposals are coming forward to authorize highway programs.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-IL and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell have teamed up to call for Congress to “front-load” the highway bill with $100 billion from the general Treasury. That proposal would pay for highway programs for the next two years.

Whatever shakes out, Joyce said, highway users deserve to drive on good roads and bridges.

“We think the lion’s share of infrastructure spending should be on highways,” he said. “There’s already been a huge amount spent on mass transit.”

– By David Tanner, staff writer