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Infrastructure Investment Creates Jobs

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, this week two so-called reporters from Associated Press, a Matt Apuzzo and a Brett Blackledge, did a supposed analysis of the investment in transportation and infrastructure projects from the so-called stimulus legislation. They came to the conclusion that there was no effect on local unemployment and it barely helped the beleaguered construction industry. That is a pretty interesting conclusion when we can document the jobs created, the hours worked: 250,000 direct jobs were created, and when you look at the secondary employment impact, you are up to about three-quarters of a million jobs. There are 8,587 highway and transit projects under construction, and it had no effect on local unemployment? What they are saying is, because of the hemorrhaging in other parts of industry and business in America, the unemployment rate is going up.

Now, what if we had just not made the investment in transit and infrastructure and had walked away from those 750,000 jobs? Would they have written a story saying that unemployment increased by nearly a million jobs because the Federal Government failed to invest in transportation and infrastructure? This is a totally perverse and bizarre conclusion reached by these two individuals.

If they wanted to write about the tax cuts in the stimulus, I would say they are right. Remember, the total investment, total, in hard jobs, in transportation infrastructure in this bill was about 5 percent of the gargantuan stimulus bill, 5 percent, yet it created 25 percent of the measurable jobs. Now, the tax cuts which totaled 8 times more, 8 times as much money was spent on tax cuts, something which mimicked the failed Bush policy that President Obama wanted to do to have a bipartisan bill and cut a deal with three Republican Senators, we got $300 billion of tax cuts for three Republican votes for that bill which have not created a single job or prevented the loss of a single job.

Ask any American who is still working what they did with their tax cut last week, and they will say, What tax cut? Oh, President Obama's promised tax cut, the one the Republicans in the Senate insisted on.

They would say, I didn't get a tax cut.

Yeah, actually you did. There was a slight reduction in your withholding. And you are not getting sent a check this time. You are paying a tiny bit more.

Now, I have a lot of people in my district who could use that $12 a week. But they will also say to me, Congressman, that is not going to put a single person back to work. It is not going to help my neighbor down the street who doesn't have a job and used to work in the construction industry, and these two turkeys have the temerity to come up with a so-called study which is now being quoted by the likes of the Wall Street Journal and other right-wing institutions as proving that public investment in infrastructure doesn't create jobs. It arguably did create jobs, but I will say it was way too small.

We have 160,000 bridges in our national system that are weight limited or functionally obsolete. What if we had a plan to replace all of those bridges? What about the jobs in the steel industry to produce the steel for those bridges? What about the engineering jobs and the construction equipment jobs and all of those things? This stimulus was too small and too short-term in terms of transportation and infrastructure. It was a one-time thing. It did create a lot of jobs and it kept a lot of people off the unemployment rolls, but it didn't get the maximum effect it would get with a long-term investment in transportation and infrastructure where you get people ordering new rock-crushing machinery. There happens to be some made in my district. Or new streetcars. We are making some of those in Oregon, too. Or buses that are manufactured in the Midwest with components from all around America. Those sorts of things will put a heck of a lot of people back to work, will revive our manufacturing so we actually need not less, which would be the conclusion of these guys, but more investment in our crumbling transportation network in America.

The city of Chicago, I hope they are listening down at the White House, got a grand total of $350 million towards its $6 billion backlog on the Chicago Transit Authority. They are holding up some of the ``L'' with 2-by-4s and other sorts of braces. They spent that money in 30 days. They ordered buses. They ordered steel. They put people to work immediately. They could have spent a billion. They could have spent $2 billion in that time period, but the money wasn't there. It was too small, but it did create a heck of a lot of good jobs and make needed investments in this country.


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