Last night in his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out his blueprint for an American economy built to last, and I was happy to hear his ideas for repairing and upgrading our transportation system. I also liked his plans for putting workers in the hard-hit construction industry back on the job:
"During the Great Depression, America built the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. After World War II, we connected our states with a system of highways. Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today.
"In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects. But [Congress needs] to fund these projects. Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."
When the President says, "There’s never been a better time to build," I am with him 100 percent. With the costs of financing construction at the lowest we've seen in decades, we can't afford not to build.
An American economy that's built to last must be built on a solid foundation, and when we have roads and bridges in disrepair, we simply cannot afford to ignore them. America's commercial truck drivers are painfully aware of how much crumbling and congested roadways are costing our economy. We owe these drivers a fair shot at earning a living.
America's businesses need to be able to ship their goods more efficiently throughout the country and the world. To help ensure we have safe and effective roads, rails, and runways beneath our trucks, trains, and airplanes, the President is calling for new efforts to revitalize American infrastructure.
Transportation professionals know that by investing in projects that repair crumbling roads, we can actually save Americans money. The President’s plan will protect taxpayer dollars by fixing existing roads and by directing funding to the best projects instead of earmarks.
And we will continue investing in innovative ideas like high-speed passenger trains and Next Gen air traffic control technology. These investments work, and with our Buy America requirements, they create opportunities for businesses throughout the supply chain.
In fact, during the past 20 months, our economy has created 3.2 million private sector jobs. Manufacturing in this country is strong and getting stronger. Our automobile industry has been absolutely revitalized and is a great example of manufacturing’s growing strength.
As the President said, "We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back."
But we can do more. "What’s happening in Detroit," the President said, "can happen in other industries. It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh."
And he's right. Continuing to invest in transportation will continue putting our friends and neighbors back to work laying the foundation for an American economy built to last.
I, for one, can't wait. We've got work to do; let's get busy.