President Obama outlines proposal for infrastructure

President Barack Obama outlined a new economic proposal, which includes spending $50 billion.

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday another effort to boost the still-sinking economy.

Obama outlined a new economic proposal — which includes spending $50 billion in infrastructure investments and a permanent extension of research and development tax credits.

The plan aims to create jobs and sustain long-term economic growth by investing federal funds in transportation infrastructure including roads, railways and runways.

The proposed funds could funnel down to states like North Carolina — where the unemployment rate is 9.8 percent — and create jobs in the construction sector.

“There are great needs for our transportation infrastructure,” said N.C. Sen. Charles Albertson, D-Duplin in a phone interview.

Although Albertson said he has yet to fully analyze the bill’s potential for the state economy, he said he expects it to improve the economy nationwide.

“And any time you can put people to work, it has a positive effect on unemployment rates,” he said.

It remains to be seen how the proposed funds will directly affect the state’s economy and the unemployed.

UNC economics professor Michael Salemi said people might suffer waiting for the economy to improve.

Private businesses will continue being slow to hire and job creation will continue lagging, he said.

“The question is whether the economic stimulus is warranted, and I say undoubtedly yes,” he said.

The University’s College Republicans Chairman Anthony Dent said the new stimulus is another misguided short-jolt approach to economic recovery.

“The Obama administration will inevitably misallocate the funds, and it won’t help the long-term growth prospects for the U.S. or North Carolina,” he said.

Sophomore biology major Sam Hurley shares similar concerns about the allocation of the stimulus funds for transportation.

“I understand where the president is coming from and why we need infrastructure improvements, but we should primarily focus on improving what we already have in place,” he said.

Some say the president’s recent economic policies could be just a way of gaining positive coverage for the Democrats before the midterm elections.

Democrats in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate are expected to lose many seats in November, threatening the majority they currently hold.

“Doing something is better than doing nothing at all,” said political science professor Thomas Carsey.

Carsey also said the Republicans will likely use stalling techniques to prevent the stimulus bill from passing.

“Republicans won’t want to give Democrats a legislative victory so close to an election.”

But U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., told UNC students Wednesday the plan is a start and an effort by Obama to reach across party lines.

“We’re certainly not in a position to declare victory,” Price said. “What he’s trying to do is a short-term plan with a desirable impact that reaches out to the other side.”

Contact the State & National Editor at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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