Obama Pushes for New Infrastructure Funding

The president delivers remarks from Tarrytown, N.Y., about transportation development funding.
23:10 | 05/14/14

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Transcript for Obama Pushes for New Infrastructure Funding
The infrastructure. The United States of America is band -- backbone. The economic might and dynamism of America. Now you know I'm always referred -- as the White House optimist but I've never been more optimistic than today about the prospects for America. The prospects for America not only -- at home would have brought. America remains the most dominant economic force in the world. And we'll continue. To be the most dominant economic force if we invest if we invest in the future of reinvested infrastructures if -- provide jobs. That provide for a strong strong and growing middle class. Call them the construction man that was Vice President Biden today in Cleveland. Earlier in the day he was in Saint Louis touting a plan 400 -- ten million dollar renovation of the iconic Gateway Arch. Hello I'm Michelle Franzen in New York now its president Obama's turn he is in New York this afternoon in the shadows of the mighty Tappan Zee Bridge. Where were listening to the Governor Cuomo speak at this time and he will -- though is vice president and hammering congress demanding they push through 300 billion dollars. Transportation development funding. With more on what to expect we're joined now from the White House by ABC's Mary Bruce -- why did the renewed focus on this infrastructure. Plan now. -- as you mentioned the president and the vice president they are trying to ramp up pressure on lawmakers to invest in repairing the nation's roads rails and bridges. The speeches today are part of the White House has pushed all week long to try and draw the nation's attention to what they say is a looming crisis. And that -- crisis involves the highway trust fund which is this big government account. That funds all of these large infrastructure projects across the country now -- fund is set to dry up at the end of the summer. And the president is going to as we expected to outline here today some of the dire consequences that will happen if that fund is allowed to dry out so he wants lawmakers to go ahead -- Fill up that tank again -- refund this -- large account and then also invest even more infrastructure projects so. In addition to protect ramping up the pressure from lawmakers -- he's also gonna announce some steps that he can take on his own. In particular. An effort to go ahead and streamline some of the permitting processes. There was some of these infrastructure projects and attempt -- trying cut through some of the red tape but overall he needs lawmakers act and he wants them to act quickly marry you mentioned that deadline what could happen if lawmakers don't do is the president wants. -- the white is convening -- very dire picture this week as they try to get lawmakers to get on board here. They say watch out there are massive traffic -- that's coming jobs could be -- as these. Projects won't be in operation anymore my favorite description is the way the transportation secretary describe -- to us candidate he said forget rush hour it could be -- all afternoon. Some of these projects are allowed to go through these bridges and roads aren't allowed to be repaired. Well -- we're watching governor Andrew Cuomo right now -- that but the backdrop of the Tappan Zee Bridge why did the president choose this bridge for the backdrop. Well this -- is essentially crumbling it's in dire need of repair and it is now finally getting some of that repair. I think you can see probably in the -- shot there is some construction going on on the bridge and this is an example of the kind of projects that the president wants to see green -- I'm sure he'll mention the because this bridge is finally being repaired their a lot of jobs that are now. -- the people they're getting jobs because of it. -- certainly they're created a new -- there the president. Is also spending several days in New York City give us an idea of what else he -- -- he will be doing. But it is the first stop for him on today's a two day trip to in New York after he gives this speech is going to be. Fundraising and raising money for some democratic candidates -- New York in Manhattan later tonight the First Lady is also with him and then tomorrow morning the president will be at the 9/11 memorial and museum. To speak at the dedication for that long awaited site that's now opening Michelle and Mary also back in Washington is that there's still some -- the clintons have -- center stage again. Republican operative Karl Rove suggested that during her time as secretary of state. Hillary suffered brain damage has the White House weighed in on this. It certainly feels like we're already in the swings of the 2016 presidential election doesn't it that's on the White House did weigh in on the space that. Anyone has any mental issues it's not Hillary Clinton it might be Karl -- -- to -- -- Press Secretary Jay Carney had to say. They about committed cognitive capacity. Which is it doctor -- might in the last person in America on election night to recognize and acknowledge that the president of them won reelection including the state of Ohio. -- -- -- Now look. Back and forth that what we're going to say -- Karl Rove has walked back that statement just a little bit but the results of this is probably what he intended all along which is that now Hillary Clinton's illness is back in the public I ever want -- Reexamining the timeline of that how she handled this illness and we're talking about last winter when she. Got very sick with the flu took a fall had a concussion. And ambulance are reexamining that so whether or not Karl Rove went further than he intended it certainly has brought the topic back into the public -- And on the subject of the clintons' daughter Chelsea's mother in -- running for congress also are the in laws doing anything to help the cause. That's right not a bad time to have some clintons and the family she is running for a seat in Pennsylvania and the famous in laws of -- are -- actually holding a fund raiser for her in me. Over this weekend trying to raise some money for her helping her out with her campaigns -- not a bad time Collins and his family connections so -- we heard from the vice president today we're about to hear from the president. What do you think will be the key issues surrounding what they are going to be asking. Congress to do. We'll might not have been president go -- called on lawmakers Republican lawmakers to get on board -- this is not coming they want to help the president out with but it is an issue of public safety. You know all of these public project -- there is a chance to trying get Republicans on board here but. This White House tries every several months it feels like to draw attention to infrastructure to urge lawmakers to invest more infrastructure projects and it never really seems to go anywhere so. The White House has high hopes this time around but I'm a little doubtful we'll see where it goes with the primary the White House thank you. Let's go down to New York. -- the president of the United States has just introduced by New York's governor Andrew Cuomo. He's about to take center stage that the Tappan Zee Bridge -- -- is backed up but. -- -- -- -- And. That are not to be a beautiful -- Well it's wonderful to be here with all of you take a seat legacy relax. First of all -- thank. Governor Cuomo for that great introduction and the great -- is doing. I want to thank. Mayor picks down fragmentary. -- Where the -- vertigo the -- right there. This is a -- just part of the world. And I am lucky to be here -- -- coming -- -- in two weeks honor delivering the commencement at West Point. -- little bit further up. But today. I'm here along with our secretary of transportation -- -- To talk about one of the best ways to -- new jobs and spur our economy and that is to rebuild America's infrastructure. It's been about five and after years since the financial crisis them. Rocked Wall Street and then ultimately spread to main street. Thanks to the grit the determination of the American people. We've been steadily fighting our way back. In just four years our businesses and operated. Nine point two million new jobs. Auto industry that was flat lining. Is now booming. -- manufacturing sector that it lost a third of its jobs back in the ninety's. Is adding jobs for the first time. Troops that are fighting two wars. -- homer coming home. Rather than creating jobs and other countries. More more companies are recognizing it makes good business sense to locate right here in the United States of America -- standing American workers. So we made progress but. Here's the thing we could be doing a lot more. We can make the decision easier. For businesses to locate. Here in the United States here in New York State. If we do a better job rebuilding our roads. Rebuilding our bridges. Upgrading our ports. On -- and commute times. The alternatives to do nothing and watch businesses go to places that have outstanding infrastructure. Behind me is the Old Tappan sea bridge. Longest bridge in new York and one of the busiest. Bridges around. There's any commuter won't tell you it is crowded. It Kerry is a lot more traffic. Men when it was built back in ninety -- -- The times -- -- -- the river through the cracks in the pavement. I'm not -- engineer but I figure that's not good. But right now. Thanks to the efforts Governor Cuomo. Thanks to your outstanding congressional delegation. Led by -- -- And including Elliott -- and John Patrick Maloney and Jerry Nadler. All of whom are here today. Senate congressional delegation the -- -- Thanks to their outstanding efforts. Workers are building a replacement the first new bridge in New York in fifty years. It's called the new New York bridge. We're just fine as a -- for your next -- -- come -- -- a little more fresh. But that there. -- here is the thing. This. Never happens you are building this bridge ahead of schedule. Three years ago. After Republicans in congress refused to pass multiple bills that -- -- construction workers back to work. I took action on my -- -- fast track the permitting process. For major projects like this. Normally would have -- three to five years to permit this bridge. We did it in a year and a half. -- a year and a half. Meant we were creating thousands of jobs faster. -- doing right by workers. Intending to the environment. And vice president in Cleveland today at another project we Fastrack rapid transit station they'll make life easier for a lot of residents there. So today -- releasing a new plan to apply the same strategy. To other major projects all across America. We're announcing eleven more projects to accelerate to get moving fast from Boston's south station. To Pensacola Bay Bridge to new light rail projects. North and south of Seattle. We're cutting bureaucratic red tape that -- good projects from breaking ground. We're launching a new national permanent sent to implement these reforms. We are aiming to put every major infrastructure project on -- -- public dashboard. So everybody can go online. Track our progress hold those accountable make sure things are covenant. On time. On budget. Make sure your taxpayer money is being used well would also make sure there were putting -- back to work rebuilding America. That's our -- All these steps we can do without congress. -- -- -- -- More good jobs because nobody was hurt worse than construction workers by. The financial crisis. The housing market. Plummeted and a lot of guys and hard heads lot of -- Garnett suddenly they were off the job. And that's why the Recovery Act. Back in 20092010. Included the most important public works jobs program since the new deal. Jump starting more than 151000. Construction projects around the country. For the past five years American workers have repaired or replaced more than 20000 bridges. Improve more than 350000. Miles of American Rhodes. Four years ago when we were just starting to clear away the damage from the financial crisis the unemployment rate for construction workers stood at 20%. -- was over 20%. Today we cut it. By more than -- But we can do better. We can build better and we have to. We've got ports that are ready for the next generation of cargo ships. We got more than a 100000. Bridges that are old enough to qualify for Medicare. -- got leaky pipes that lose billions of gallons of drinking water every single day. Even as we've got a severe drought in much of the west. Nearly half are people don't have access to transit at all and I don't have to tell you what some -- airports look like. Building a world class transportation system is one of the reasons America became an economic superpower in the first place. But over the past fifty years as a share of our economy. Our investment in transportation has shrunk by 50% think about them. Our investment in transportation. Has been cut. By half. You know what other countries are going European countries now -- best. Twice as much as we do. China. And that's four times as much as we do in transportation. One study recently found that over time we've fallen to -- nineteenth place. When it comes the quality of our infrastructure nineteenth place I don't like you but. I don't like America being nineteen. I don't like -- being second. I want us to -- first when it comes to infrastructure around the world because businesses are gonna come where there's good infrastructure to -- businesses. And people -- services. We should watch the top rated airports and seaports -- the fastest. Rail lines -- fast Internet. Networks get built somewhere else they need to be built right here in New York right here in the United States. First -- class infrastructure -- first class jobs. Business owners don't want a crumbling road or bridge because then they can't move out -- stuff. And their workers. -- as productive gets harder for them to get to work. That was set up shop where there's -- field rail and high speed broadband. Hi tech schools. Self healing power grids. New -- tunnels. It allows them when they -- goods here in America to move those goods out and -- mall around the world. Unfortunately helping states cities -- infrastructure. Is one of congress' chief -- -- And you've got some outstanding members here but let me just talk a little bit about congressman. If they don't act by the end of the summer. Federal funding for transportation. Projects will run out. Bull run out there will be no money recovered will be better. And all told. Nearly 700000. Jobs would be at risk over the next year that's like the population of Tampa and Saint Louis combined. Right now there -- more than -- 100000 active projects paving roads and rebuilding bridges. Modernizing our transit systems. States might have to choose which ones to break -- Some states already started to slow down work because -- -- congress won't untangle the gridlock on time. That's something you should remember every time you see a story about a construction project stopped or machines idled workers laid off their jobs. That's why earlier this year. In addition to fast tracking projects. -- it was sector -- Put forward a plan to rebuild. Our transportation. Infrastructure more responsible way. It -- support millions of jobs across America. Who would give cities and states and private investors the certainty they need to plan ahead and invest. And it wouldn't add to our deficits because we pay it forward in part by closing wasteful tax loopholes for companies that -- ship jobs overseas. That are in the tax -- right now -- that we could clean out and help. To put folks back to work rebuilding America. So far at least Republicans who run this congress seem to have a different priority. Not only have been prevented. So far efforts. To make sure funding still -- place for what we've already got but the proposal would actually cut. Job creating grant programs that have funded high priority for transportation projects in all fifty states -- -- him by about 80%. McCants six to save money because very same time they voted for trillions of dollars in new tax cuts. Weighted towards -- of the very tough. Do you think about that -- site. So putting more workers back on the job and put those workers jobs at risk. -- -- breaking ground on new projects that improve quality of life for millions of people. They voted to give a massive tax -- households making more than a million dollars a year. Senate making investments to grow our economy by -- in the middle class. There's still convince the prosperity trickles down from the very -- If you want to tell them what you think about that. Don't worry because usually they show up -- ribbon cuttings. For projects that they refuse to fund. And and here's the sad part. Rebuilding America that shouldn't be. A partisan issue. -- -- the president happens to have been a Republican. Guy named Abraham Lincoln. In my home state of Illinois. And it was Lincoln who committed to a railroad connecting east to west even while he was struggling mightily to hold together north and south. It was a Republican Dwight Eisenhower. Who built the interstate highway system. It was Ronald Reagan who said that rebuilding our infrastructure is an investment in tomorrow but we must make today. Since when are the Republican in congress. Against Ronald -- But that's part of the problem we've gotten so partisan everything's become political. There -- more innocence saying no. Because they're worried that maybe. You know that after. -- at a bill signing -- me. Then there are actually doing the job that they know would be good. For America. It's time for folks decide. Run around. -- what's wrong with America roll up -- sleeves and let's get to work. And help America rebuild. That's what we should be going. We -- can't. Do spirit we need to can do spirit. That's what Governor Cuomo plans and it sounds like state legislature of world -- with a moments. We need congress to work with us on these issues doesn't mean they're gonna agree with the -- everything. I guarantee -- -- have more than enough to disagree with me about. But let's not fight on -- and we -- know makes sense. After over the people who in the depths of the depression lifted the great bridge in California -- a great band -- in the southwest of lifted up rural America. We shrink the sprawling content. Well we pounded in that final railroad spike. Connected up. This amazing country of ours. -- of network of highways all across America from coast to coast and then we -- -- to the world with our imaginations in the Internet. A great nation does these things. -- -- doesn't say no we can't says yes we can't. So the bottom. Bottom line -- -- down is America doesn't stand still. There's work to be done. Their workers ready to do what some over here in -- -- on the job doing work. We're proud of that. There -- people all across this country that are ready and eager. To move this country forward. I'm gonna keep -- -- Alongside all of you to make sure that we're doing everything we -- rebuild America not just rebuild one bridge but I want us to rebuild -- ever break. I don't want to do -- rebuild one school I want to rebuild every scope itself. I want -- most of all most importantly rebuild -- economy. -- hard work is valued and responsibility is respected and rewarded. From where opportunity is available. Not just to some. But to every single hardworking American that's what I'm fighting for I know that's what you care about. Thank you very much everybody good job workers'. Look forward to seeing -- bridge. Very much. -- -- -- You've been listening to the president in Tarrytown New York with the backdrop that -- Tappan Zee Bridge. As the president is trying to bridge the gap bond. Infrastructure funding. Keep up of course the President Obama and real time by downloading the ABC news -- starring this story for exclusive updates on the go. For now I'm Michelle Franzen -- New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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