The 59-year-old Tappan Zee Bridge is being replaced. With the aged structure as a backdrop, President Obama discusses the dwindling quality of American infrastructure and introduces his new plan to rebuild our transportation infrastructure. He says, it “shouldn’t be a partisan issue” and pointedly urges Republicans in Congress to support the plan to rebuild America.
Here’s 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 would have put construction workers back to work, I took action on my own to fast-track the permitting process for major projects like this one.
Normally it would have taken 3-5 years to permit this bridge. We did it in a year and a half….
So today, we’re releasing a new plan to apply the same strategy to other major projects all across America. We’re announcing 11 more projects to accelerate, to get moving faster, from Boston… to Seattle. We’re cutting bureaucratic red tape that stalls good projects from breaking ground. We are launching a new National Permitting Center….
All these steps we can do without Congress…. But we can do better…. Building a world-class transportation system is one of the reasons America became an economic super-power in the first place…. [But} one study recently found that over time, we’ve fallen to 19th place [compared to other nations] when it comes to the quality of our infrastructure…. I want us to be first….
Businesses are going to come where there’s good infrastructure to move [products], move people, move services…. [Businesses] want to set up shop where there’s high-speed rail, and high-speed broadband, high-tech schools, self-healing power grids, new ports, tunnels….
Helping states and cities fund infrastructure is one of Congress’ chief responsibilities…. If they don’t act by the end of summer, Federal funding for transportation projects will run out…. That’s why earlier this year… I put forward a plan to rebuild our transportation infrastructure in a more responsible way…. And it wouldn’t add to our deficit because we pay for it, in part, by closing wasteful tax loopholes for companies that are shipping jobs overseas….
So far, at least, Republicans who run this Congress seem to have a different priority… Here’s the sad part. Rebuilding America shouldn’t be a partisan issue…. Let’s not fight on something we all know makes sense.