- The Washington Times - Monday, September 6, 2010

President Obama will announce on Monday a plan to spend at least $50 billion on long-term investments for the country’s transportation infrastructure, another attempt to stimulate the lagging U.S. economy ahead of the November elections, in which jobs and economic recovery will be key voting issues.

The White House says most of the money in the six-year proposal to improve roads, railways and airports will be spent in the initial stages to “jump-start additional job creation while also laying the foundation for future growth.”

The president will announce the plan this afternoon in Milwaukee at a Labor Day event and is expected to announce additional recovery efforts Wednesday in Cleveland. Both cities play a prominent role in this year’s Senate races, as the president travel across the country to help campaign for Democratic candidates.

Cleveland is a Democratic-leaning city in Ohio, where Republican Rob Portman, a former congressman and senior Bush administration official, is in a tight race with Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher for the open seat of retiring GOP Sen. George V. Voinovich.

Milwaukee is a Democratic-leaning city in Wisconsin, where Democratic Sen. Russ Fengold is in a tough re-election race after holding the seat for 18 years. He faces the winner of the Republicans’ Sept. 14 primary, which businessman Ron Johnson is expected to win.

The White House proposal being announced today specifically calls for rebuilding 150,000 miles of roads, building and maintaining 4,000 miles of railway, and improving airports by fixing and building 150 miles of runways and installing a new air navigation system known as NexGen to reduce travel time and delays.

The proposal also calls for a permanent infrastructure bank that primarily would fund national and regional infrastructure projects.

The White House has yet to disclose the total cost, but administration officials said they would consider ending some tax breaks for oil and gas companies to pay for the proposal, according to the Associated Press.

The proposal likely will have the support of the Democrat-controlled Congress but will be unpopular among congressional Republicans.

The administration already has put forth an $814 billion stimulus plan with infrastructure investments, which Congress passed last year.

However, those projects are coming to a close as the U.S. jobless rate increased slightly last month to 9.6 percent.

• Joseph Weber can be reached at jweber@washingtontimes.com.old.

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