President Barack Obama told an AFL-CIO affiliate that Republicans in Congress are pushing policies that would increase unemployment among construction workers, calling on lawmakers to pass a long-term transportation bill.
“Infrastructure shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Building and Construction Trades Department Legislative Conference in Washington. “Investments in better roads and safer bridges and newer schools have been made by Democrats and Republicans for generations, because they benefit all of us.”
“Republicans today seem to have exactly the opposite view,” he said. “That means instead of putting more construction workers back on the job, they want to lay more off.”
Obama is looking for ways to spur job creation for construction workers and improve an economy that has become fodder in the presidential campaign and congressional contests.
House Speaker John Boehner yesterday accused Obama of “diminishing the presidency by picking fake fights” as he seeks re-election. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, cited the Democratic president’s recent campaign to freeze interest rates on student loans, to set a minimum tax on incomes of more than $1 million, and to curb manipulation in the oil markets.
“The point I’ve been trying to make here in the last couple of weeks is that the president’s bigger than this,” Boehner said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program.
Obama led presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney by seven percentage points among registered voters in a Gallup poll conducted April 21-26.
Later today Obama and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will meet at the White House to discuss trade and the global economy, as well as the realignment of U.S. forces in Asia.
While addressing the union, Obama said that infrastructure spending can be balanced with long-term deficit cuts. “But if we’re smart about it, we can also afford to make the investments that will help our country and the American people in the short-term.”
“I think that’s a no-brainer,” he said.
“And what’s more, they’ve also set their sights on dismantling unions like yours,” he said. “After all you’ve done to build and protect the middle class, they’re saying you’re responsible for the problems facing the middle class.”