OBAMA: The council here is quoted as saying, if there is one thing that Washington should be able to agree on, rebuilding our infrastructure should be one. I mean, when you've got the AFL and the Chamber of Commerce agreeing on anything, that's a sign that it's a good idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And we do have the AFL and the Chamber of Commerce here. It's not often that big business and big labor agree, but this is one of those times. Both see an opportunity to create jobs by rebuilding America.
The Senate is expected to take up that issue in the next few weeks. And I'm now joined by two men that you seldom find in the same corner, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue.
Gentlemen, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.
TRUMKA: Thank you.
DONOHUE: Glad to be here.
AMANPOUR: Now, it makes all the sense in the world -- build the crumbling infrastructure, put people back to work -- and yet it's such a hard sell. Make the case for why the Senate -- why Congress should do this business on infrastructure?
TRUMKA: Well, first of all, we're living off the investments that our parents and grandparents made in this country. We've gone in the last four years from being in the top five infrastructure in the world to 16, and we're falling.
We can't be competitive in a global economy unless we have infrastructure that allows us to be competitive. We have a major deficit, a $2.2 trillion deficit in old infrastructure and a $2 trillion deficit in new infrastructure, to bring us into the 21st century. This is really a no-brainer. And for years and years and years, infrastructure was an issue that Democrats, Republicans, independents, and everybody came together and said this needs to be done. Let's join together and do it.
AMANPOUR: Tom Donohue, can one join together behind me in that building politically to get this done? And how many jobs do you think it would bring to America if it was agreed to?
DONOHUE: Well, first, we're in agreement of the need to bring along a major improvement in our infrastructure. Second, we understand that a lot of jobs can be created in the transportation and the energy side and the aviation and the water side. And those all come with a trust fund attached to them, where people pay money in.
We would disagree on the current discussion in terms of the game that's going on over there to try and pass President Obama's tax issue one piece at a time. And there's a lot of things we can say about that.
And we would disagree in the issue of the buy America components of that. When we did it in the stimulus, we had to give 170,000 exemptions while we were trying to build roads and bridges. But for the fundamental issue of let's put people to work and let's improve the nation's infrastructure, we have no objection and no differences. And we're going to try and work it out by making those adjustments.
AMANPOUR: And it's not just about putting people to work. It's also about growth. And without growth, obviously, there will be no significant uptick in employment. And I've been told and read, of course, that investment in infrastructure creates growth. And by the contrary, crumbling infrastructure really hurts the GDP in this country.
DONOHUE: Actually, we even have an equation that we've shared with Rich. You can tell, based on the health of your infrastructure, what your GDP is going to be. And you are on target. No growth, no jobs.