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Obama Looks to TARP for Road Funds
Monday, 14 December 2009 00:00

President Obama last week proposed directing about $50 billion in unspent money from the federal government’s bank bailout program to build roads and bridges as a way to counter high unemployment. The proposal was one of several job-creation ideas Obama put forward last Tuesday. Congress must approve the plan for it to become law.

The Labor Department reported Dec. 4 that the national unemployment rate was 10% in November, but unemployment in the construction sector was 19.4%.

“We are proposing a boost in investment in the nation’s infrastructure beyond what was included in the Recovery Act, to continue modernizing our transportation and communications networks,” Obama said.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said money could come from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which had about $200 billion remaining.

Senior administration officials told reporters that the infrastructure component probably would be about $50 billion.

Congress would need to pass legislation allowing the TARP funds to be spent differently than it was intended. Not surprising, Congressional member reactions differ.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that it “makes sense to use some of those resources that were trying to stabilize Wall Street to now try to invest them in growing Main Street.”

Republicans in Congress, however, criticized the proposal.

“We can’t keep spending money that we don’t have,” House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said.

Light & Medium Truck, 12/14/2009