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Obama, Romney Map Infrastructure Views

Monday, October 1, 2012

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With early voting set to start Tuesday (Oct. 2) to choose the next U.S. Infrastructure Steward-in-Chief, both President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney have taken their creds and their plans to the Rust Belt.

 The White House

 The White House

President Obama has announced several recent infrastructure initiatives as part of his “We Can’t Wait” program.

Infrastructure has not been a big campaign issue this year, despite a predicted multitrillion-dollar gap in investment and regular reports of deadly accidents at failing bridges, pipelines and tunnels.

Still, the issue remains critical in Ohio, where nearly one million residents have requested absentee ballots that will be mailed Tuesday, according to WDTN-TV in Dayton. That number was just over 720,000 a week earlier, said Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

 transportationnation.org

 transportationnation.org

Mitt Romney told a New Hampshire gathering last December that he doesn’t like borrowing, but he would do it for infrastructure.

Last week, in separate interviews, the Cleveland Plain Dealer's editorial board sought to pin down the candidates on their infrastructure plans.

Gov. Mitt Romney

Romney, the Republican former governor of Massachusetts, said his infrastructure priorities would extend beyond urban centers.

"Our infrastructure's crumbling," Romney told the newspaper. "It was built in the 1950s and 1960s; it had an estimated 50-year life; and you're seeing a dramatic need to repair what we have and to expand our system to remove the choke points that are making it more difficult for our goods to travel across the nation."

The newspaper noted that Romney was “noncommittal” last year when asked by CNBC about a proposal by Obama to establish an infrastructure bank. At the time, Romney told CNBC that the idea "sounds like Fannie Mae" and that he didn't "want the government getting into more and more enterprises like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," the government-sponsored companies that guarantee home loans.

Romney told the Plain Dealer that he favored public-private partnerships (P3) to fund transportation projects. He said such arrangements allowed entities to work together "to expand our infrastructure and then devote a stream of revenue to repay the public-private partnership."

The newspaper likened Romney’s approach to a recently announced plan by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to secure private-sector funding to eliminate construction delays for the state’s Innerbelt Bridge project, despite the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) $1.6 billion budget hole. According to ODOT, the gap had forced the department to push back some of the state’s largest construction projects by decades.

Kasich has instructed ODOT to recruit a private-sector engineering, construction and finance team to pay for the estimated $332 million project up front. Kasich calls the deal a first for Ohio.

President Obama

Obama told the newspaper that he favored an infrastructure bank, which backs private investments with public money. The idea was first proposed last year and has drawn bipartisan support.

Projects would be selected based on how they would boost a region or state. Obama acknowledged in his interview that “we haven’t gotten it instituted as robustly as we would like.”

Obama also noted the political jockeying that seems to permeate infrastructure decisions.

"There's always going to be some dividing up the pie," Obama said. "That's the nature of Congress. A member is going to want something in their district, and somebody who's on a committee is going to see if they can leverage a little bit more for themselves than somebody who's not on a committee. That's the way Congress works."

Asked how his administration would set those priorities, Obama said, “I think that increasingly not only experts, but also voters, recognize the old urban-suburban-exurban divide doesn’t really make sense anymore. When you look at states here in the Midwest, cities are the economic engines for the suburbs.”

Obama also called infrastructure an issue that should “ripe for compromise,” the newspaper said.

"Transportation is another good example," he said. "Historically that's never been a Democratic or Republican issue. Members of Congress like to build things and show up and cut ribbons. We've got a whole bunch of deferred maintenance right now, and the construction industry is still weak despite the fact that we're starting to see housing tick up."

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, U.S. infrastructure needs a five-year investment of $2.2 trillion to bring the nation’s infrastructure up to date.

   

Tagged categories: Gov. Mitt Romney; Government; Government contracts; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Locks and dams; Pipelines; Politics; President Obama; Tunnel

Comment from Dan Ruark, (10/2/2012, 5:24 AM)

Obama will most pick the construction company that gets jobs based upon who he knows and who contributes the most money to his campaign. The job will not be chosen based upon who the best, least expensive contractor is. I'd guess unless you are somehow related to him, or one of his dirty, Chicago friends that will overcharharge and give the extra funds to the Obama campaign...you are not going to get the job. Romney I believe would choose based on merit.


Comment from Mike Van Kleeck, (10/2/2012, 9:44 AM)

Way to show your bias ignorance Dan!


Comment from Mike McCloud, (10/3/2012, 8:59 AM)

Read the books and see the movies, get informed, look at Evergreen and Solindra. There is some pretty scary stuff out there.


Comment from Jeff Croll, (10/3/2012, 9:38 AM)

solyndra? hmmm. 550 million approximately. any comment on the missing 9 billion tied to halliburton in iraq?


Comment from Mike McCloud, (10/4/2012, 9:19 AM)

Halliburton is still around.


Comment from Sam Maggio, (10/4/2012, 9:42 AM)

Dan-your comment is hilarious. Romney is in the pocket of a couple of billionaires. He is their puppet. Romney also lies so much he is helping the FACT CHECKERS earn their pay. Romney is an emphatic liar. And, Halliburton is CORPORATE WELFARE at the most glaring and unjust and unfair level.


Comment from Rudi Rennert, (10/4/2012, 11:14 AM)

There is a clear choice here. One side believes in centralized, all powerful Federal authority. The other side believes in individual sovereignty and founding principles. Do not get mired down in details because you end up trading security for freedom. Liberty is not automatic, it must be fought for. This is what America's success is built on.


Comment from Sam Maggio, (10/4/2012, 12:25 PM)

Malarky alert!!! Republicans do not have monopoly on founding principles, actually that Patriot Act crafted and forced through by Republicans is the most anti-Constitutional legislation ever forced on the US citizens in our history... so spare us all the crap about founding principles being partisan. And that lie about needi9ng to invade and occupy Iraq, another Republican lie and departure from founding principles.


Comment from Gerald Burbank, (10/5/2012, 8:18 AM)

Obama and Romney both politicians. They are each necessarily beholden to special interest groups and donors...


Comment from Rudi Rennert, (10/5/2012, 11:04 AM)

Drone alert. I may not be doing cartwheels for Romney and make no mistake that when he is elected, conservatives still have their work cut out for them to prevent another "Bush" fiasco. Stop being so selfish and think about your kids, America will not be the land of opportunity with crushing loads of debt - REGARLESS OF WHO PUT IT THERE, its there! We have seen Obamas approach to the debt and its not working, HE IS FIRED.


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