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Put America Back To Work And Rebuild America's Decrepit Infrastructure

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DeFAZIO. Madam Speaker, the President brought the jobs summit to a very unfortunate and, unfortunately, ill-informed close in his summary statement.

The President is skeptical about shovel-ready projects. He said the term ``shovel-ready.'' Let's be honest. It doesn't always live up to its billing. Well, if he is talking about other than infrastructure, he is right.

The Department of Energy managed to commit a tiny fraction of the money in the stimulus bill, and that which they have committed has created thousands of jobs. Yeah. Unfortunately, they are jobs in China of making windmills that will be shipped to the United States of America. Not exactly what we had in mind.

Maybe it's the tax cuts all across America. People every week are grateful for their tax cuts. No. Actually, they don't know that they get a minuscule reduction in their withholdings, and that's what is supposed to rebuild our economy. There was seven times as much money for tax cuts as there was for transportation infrastructure.

Now let's examine the President's statement a little further. I think he is very, very ill-advised by a prejudiced group of economic advisers who, for some reason, were frightened by infrastructure at a young age, perhaps. Whatever the reason, they hate it--plain and simple--because the fact is, as the previous gentleman said, 4 percent of the funding, that which was spent and is already committed and is underway in infrastructure, has created 25 percent of the jobs. All of that money will be spent out by next summer. There are hundreds of billions of dollars in other programs that aren't being spent out so well, but the shovel-ready transportation infrastructure projects are going forward.

We had a report last week. There is $49 billion more in bridge and highway projects. We have 160,000 bridges that need reconstruction across America. That's steel. That's concrete. That's construction jobs. That's engineering work. There is no long lead time. There is no lengthy environmental review. We are replacing or rebuilding things that are already in place. In addition to that, there are many other road and highway projects of great merit. That can be committed within 120 days--$49 billion. It could take place next construction season--$16 billion in intermodal, port and other access issues.

Then perhaps this will get the attention out at the White House: $20 billion in transit. We are killing people on our transit systems because of the outmoded, decrepit infrastructure we have. There is an $80 billion backlog. When you begin to fill that backlog, what you can do within a day in some places, like the Chicago Transit Authority, which spent a quarter of $1 billion in 30 days, which is all the money they got--they spent it in 30 days because they have a decrepit system. They ordered things that create a huge multiplier effect and jobs across the economy--transit vehicles, buses. Then people who make parts for buses have jobs. We have ``buy America'' provisions so the jobs aren't going to China like the DOE grants are. These are the kinds of investments we need to be making. These things work.

Now, why won't his advisers wake up and tell him the truth?

Most of the jobs, the real jobs--the private-sector jobs--that were created by this last so-called ``stimulus,'' were in transportation infrastructure. The money has been successfully spent and obligated. We can give him those statistics. I defy them to go to any other part of that bill other than the money that kept teachers working and other things that helped the States or the tax cuts where the money has spent out at such a rapid rate.

So it's time to reorient the thinking down there on the economic team at the White House. If we want to put America back to work next year, we need to dedicate more funds for rebuilding our decrepit infrastructure across this country. Get the huge multiplier effect we get with that. We have a total of close to $80 billion of projects ready to go in 120 days. These aren't just your resurfacing things like we saw last year. These are major projects--bridge replacements and major work on transit systems--that are ready to go, that are shovel-ready to go. No lie there.

I hope some of his advisers are listening, that they'll look at the facts and will send the President a corrective memo on these issues.

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