President Barack Obama announced Monday a $50 billion transportation infrastructure plan designed to create jobs and support economic recovery starting in 2011. The long-term jobs program would span six years and focus on building and maintaining 150,000 miles of road, 4,000 miles of railway and 150 miles of airport runway. To finance the infrastructure plan, Obama proposes to raise taxes on oil and gas companies.
While the plan has yet to be approved by Congress, it has already caused a stir among party leaders.
Republicans have expressed skepticism of the plan. In July, the House Appropriation Committee’s transportation panel rejected Obama’s request for $4 billion to create an infrastructure bank which would appropriate funds for civic projects.
Some experts support the president’s idea, but fear that such a relatively small stimulus won’t be enough to fix the issues created by the downturn in the economy.
“More deficit spending will not turn this economy around,” said Michelle D. Bernard, president and CEO of the Independent Women’s Forum. “Washington should focus on providing businesses with the certainty they need to invest, expand and hire.”
The federal Department of Transportation received $38.6 billion from the stimulus package last year, but so far only $18.5 billion has been paid out.
Frank Askin, a professor of law at Rutgers University, said, “Obama’s $50 billion infrastructure plan is part of a good idea. It just doesn’t go far enough. We need much more to get the economy moving and the job market to pick up.”