By Alli Hill
President Barack Obama presented his new infrastructure plan Sept. 8 in hopes of an economic boost to a crowd at Cuyohoga Community College in a suburb of Cleveland.
The address came after John Boehner (R–Ohio) presented the Republican Party’s priorities for the economy in Cleveland a few weeks before.
Boehner came under scrutiny by Democrats, including the president, for the address.
“It would be one thing if he had admitted his party’s mistakes during the eight years that (the Republicans) were in power,” Obama said. “If (the Republicans) had gone off for a while and meditated and come back and offered a credible new approach to solving our country’s problems, but that’s not what happened.”
Obama said Boehner presented no new policies.
“There was just the same philosophy that we had already tried during the decade that (the Republicans) were in power — the same philosophy that led to this mess in the first place: Cut more taxes for millionaires and cut more rules for corporations,” Obama said.
According to Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director, the president has given three steps to help grow the economy and help businesses spur hiring.
“The president is calling for a bold effort to renew and expand our transportation infrastructure — in a plan that combines a long-term vision for the future with new investments,” Pfeiffer posted on the White House blog.
Pfeiffer said some tangible accomplishments of this effort include rebuilding 150,000 miles of roads, constructing and maintaining 4,000 miles of rail, and rehabilitating or reconstructing 150 miles of runway.
Cody Goodman, senior music and political science double major and president of the Tennessee Federation of College Democrats, said he believes the changes will help the economy.
“Businesses need infrastructure to thrive,” Goodman said. “When the West Tennessee roads were improved and went to four lanes, it brought a lot of business to Jackson. It helps transport goods within the state and across state lines.”
Obama’s second step to help grow the economy is to expand, simplify and make permanent the Research and Experimentation tax credit. Pfeifer said the expansion would encourage companies to create jobs in America now, and make investments that will pay off with stronger economic growth in the future. He said the president’s proposal to increase the simplified R&E credit to 17 percent would represent the largest increase in this tax benefit on record.
The third step of Obama’s new plan is to accelerate business investments to promote job creation. Pfeifer said the proposal would allow companies to fully deduct qualified capital investments through the end of 2011.
“This measure would provide tax incentives for businesses to invest in the United States when our economy needs it most, which should both help create jobs now and expand the capital stock to support future growth,” Pfeifer said.
David Speer, sophomore political science and history double major, said he does not think the new plan will fix the economy.
“It is great that Obama wants to get jobs going in the country, but spending millions of dollars in addition to all of the stimulus packages is a bit ridiculous,” Speer said. “There has got to be a better way than tossing money into a cesspool and trying to pull something good out of it.”
Economic plans and proposals have long divided Republicans and Democrats. Obama said he entered the White House 18 months ago with hopes of getting beyond some of the political divides.
“Although we are proud to be Democrats, we are prouder to be Americans,” Obama said in his Cleveland address.
“We are all Americans and it is important to put aside our differences,” Goodman said.