Obama to call for infrastructure funding

President Obama will urge Congress to fund the rapidly depleting Highway Trust Fund by eliminating corporate tax breaks during a speech Tuesday in Georgetown.

The president will argue “that by closing unfair tax loopholes for companies that ship profits overseas, we can invest in rebuilding our infrastructure,” according to a White House official.

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The trust fund, which pays for state and federal highway projects, is running out of money thanks to declining revenues from gasoline taxes. Congress has not increased the 18.4 cent per gallon tax in some two decades, while fuel efficiency has been on the rise. Experts predict that the Transportation Department could run out of money for road projects by August, putting at risk hundreds of thousands of jobs and critical transportation projects.

The president could advocate a plan similar to that offered by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has proposed an $8 billion package that would keep the trust fund operating throughout the end of the year. Wyden’s plan is funded primarily through tougher enforcement of existing tax laws.

Republican lawmakers in the House have suggested paying for the fund by eliminating Saturday delivery by the U.S. Postal Service, or through a more aggressive collection of online sales taxes by the states.

The president will speak in front of the Key Bridge, a crucial artery connecting downtown Washington to the Northern Virginia suburbs. The bridge is scheduled to receive additional repairs paid through the Highway Trust Fund “soon,” according to a White House official.

The remarks will come shortly after the president holds a meeting with his Cabinet. According to the official, Obama will ask department and agency heads for an update on their progress investing in infrastructure and manufacturing progress without congressional action.

“The president plans to ask his Cabinet to travel this summer to hear directly from the American people about their concerns and ideas for how we can continue to expand opportunity and grow our economy,” the official said. 

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