US President Barack Obama, scrambling to spur job creation, proposed a six-year plan on Monday to rebuild US infrastructure with an initial US$50 billion investment and prepared new business tax cuts.
“We are going to rebuild 150,000 miles [240,000km] of our roads — that’s enough to circle the world six times ... We’re going to lay and maintain 4,000 miles [6,400km] of our railways — enough to stretch coast-to-coast,” Obama told a labor rally in Milwaukee where several thousand supporters cheered his every line.
The infrastructure plan, one of several initiatives Obama is unveiling this week, was immediately criticized by Republicans, who many analysts predict could win control of the House of Representatives in Nov. 2 congressional elections.
With fellow Democrats facing punishment from recession-weary voters in November, Obama is under pressure to do more to create jobs and bring down the stubbornly high 9.6 percent unemployment rate, even as economists agree he has few good options left.
An administration official said Obama would propose today in Cleveland that businesses be allowed to write off all their new investments in plant and equipment through next year.
The plan would cut business taxes by US$200 billion over two years, the official said. The administration hope is that businesses worried about the sagging US economy would nonetheless want to take advantage of the tax break by going ahead with plans for plant and equipment investments.
Obama is also expected to announce today a proposal for the US Congress to increase and permanently extend a tax credit for business research and development. It would cost US$100 billion over 10 years.