- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2013

President Obama called on Congress Friday to approve $21 billion in new spending to repair America’s ports, roads and bridges, with the administration saying it will explain later how to pay for the programs.

“Building better roads and bridges and schools, that’s not a partisan idea,” Mr. Obama said after a tour at the port of Miami. “I know that members of Congress are happy to welcome projects like this in their district — I know because I’ve seen them at the ribbon-cuttings.”

The president outlined three initiatives, including a $10 billion “infrastructure bank” that would leverage private capital to fund various projects nationwide. He’s been proposing the idea for years, but Republican lawmakers haven’t accepted it.

After the president revealed some of these same proposals in his State of the Union address, Speaker John A. Boehner said he couldn’t support them without knowing where the resources would come from to fund the projects.

“It’s easy to go out there and be Santa Claus and talk about all the things you want to give away, but at some point somebody has to pay the bill,” Mr. Boehner said at the time.

Mr. Obama insisted the proposals are needed to boost the economy, which is stuck in low gear.

“We can’t afford Washington politics to stand in the way of America’s progress,” he said. “Ultimately, Congress has to fund these projects. It’ll put people back to work, and it will grow our economy in the process.”

Alan Krueger, an economic adviser to the president, said the administration will explain in its budget how it intends to pay for the programs. The budget, which is late, is now due to be submitted to Congress on April 10.

The president, who has devoted less time to public events about the economy lately as he calls attention to issues such as immigration and gun control, said the proposals are a key part of his second-term agenda.

“Let’s rebuild this country we love,” Mr. Obama said. “Let’s make sure we’ve always got the best roads. We’re going to push on this issue each and every day and make sure we get the middle class going again. We’re going to fix our economy, we’re going to fix our immigration system, we’re going to make sure our young people are getting a great education, we’re going to prevent them from being victims of gun violence. We’re going to make sure that everybody in this country has a fair shot and is doing their fair share.”