(NNPA)—You have no doubt heard a lot about President Obama’s proposed federal budget in the news lately. With an eye toward reducing the nation’s trillion plus dollar deficit, the president suggests some difficult to swallow budget cuts while still investing in America’s future. It’s not much different from what a struggling corporation would do, or a family. One of those proposed investments would not only modernize our nation’s highways and railways, it will also create millions of jobs.
During the last several years, bridges across the U.S. have collapsed, gas lines have exploded, and streets have deteriorated to unsafe levels. The president proposes that we shore up our infrastructure and put Americans to work at the same time. How? By spending just over $50 billion to build a high-speed rail system and by investing slightly more than $330 billion in our nation’s highways. Obama’s advisors estimate the plan would create more than five million construction jobs and 10 million additional jobs in related industries.
Yes, this is a lot of money. However, investing in America and its infrastructure is the smart thing—the right thing—to do. Americans will be able to travel from place to place, knowing that bridges and roads are sound. High-speed rail will connect towns and cities and, over the long term, improve our environment, since there will be fewer cars on the road. Lastly, the new jobs this investment will help create will bring the unemployment rate down from its record high levels.
Of course, the proposal has its critics. They say there’s no way the government can pay for it. The president thought of that, too. Currently, the gasoline tax raises about $35 billion a year. That money is used to pay for highway projects. The president wants to use that fund to offset the infrastructure projects and raise additional revenue through various other taxes and tolls.
There is no doubt that the president’s plan is a strong one, with past success to back it up. The 2009 stimulus package included more than $130 billion in infrastructure spending; this spending created eight million jobs. So, we know this is the right way to go. Money spent now, would improve the economy—and our bridges and roads—and position the country for a more prosperous future.
Write your Congress men and women; tell them to support the president’s plan to create jobs by improving our nation’s infrastructure. Visit www.usa.gov if you need help locating your elected official’s contact information.
(Judge Greg Mathis is vice president of RainbowPUSH and a national board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.)