Pa. Gov. Rendell makes case for infrastructure spending
President-elect Barack Obama on Monday did not put a price tag on an economic stimulus package he wants Congress to produce by the time he takes office, but Democratic lawmakers are talking about a bill that could be $500 billion to $700 billion.
Obama has stressed that a substantial portion of the money be targeted to repair and build roads, bridges, schools, clean energy technology and other infrastructure. The projects and orders for supplies are intended to create at 2.5 million jobs, according to Obama and other Democratic officials.
Responding to Republican critics on Capitol Hill that say a massive public works program will create huge deficits, Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania said that spending on infrastructure has to be viewed as a long-term investment.
“When we borrow money to build our infrastructure we’re investing to make a better Pennsylvania for our children ' There isn’t a business out there that grew successful that didn’t borrow money at some key time and invest it in its own growth. Government is no different,” he said on MSNBC’s “Rachel Maddow Show” Monday night.
Rendell said he would apply Pennsylvania’s share of the funds to reverse the deterioration of the state’s bridges. Pennsylvania has the highest number of structurally deficient bridges in the nation despite the fact that Rendell has tripled the amount of money on bridge repair during his six years as governor. The average age of the state’s bridges is 75 years when normal obsolescence is about 40 years, he said.
Rendell predicted Obama wouldn't face a united Republican opposition on the stimulus bill because many Republican governors favor infrastructure spending at an even greater level than is in the economic recovery package.
Rendell is co-chairman, along with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of a coalition called “Building America’s Future” that is promoting the need to make infrastructure funding a top national priority and spreading ideas on how to find money for that purpose. ' Eric Kulisch