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March 30, 2013

Obama pitches public works to create jobs

(Continued)

MIAMI —

The project has received loans and grants under the programs Obama touted and is expected to open next summer.

The president made private-sector infrastructure investment a key part of the economic agenda he rolled out in his State of the Union address last month. In the speech, he also called for a “Fix-It-First” program that would spend $40 billion in taxpayer funds on urgent repairs.

Congressional approval is not a sure bet, considering that House Republicans have shown little appetite for Obama’s spending proposals. In fact, the infrastructure bank is an idea Obama called for many times in the past, but it gained little traction during his first term.

Obama’s focus on generating more private-sector investment underscores the tough road new spending faces on Capitol Hill, where Republican lawmakers often threaten to block new spending unless it’s paid for by cutting taxes or other spending. “These are projects that are helpful to the economy and shouldn’t break down on partisan lines,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

But Florida Republicans, including Gov. Rick Scott, faulted Obama for being “late to the party.” Before Obama arrived in Florida, Scott argued that state taxpayers have had to pick up too much of the tab for this and other port projects because the president was slow to support them.

Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters traveling with Obama that the initiatives discussed Friday will cost $21 billion, not including the $40 billion for “Fix-It-First.” Krueger said any increased spending associated with the proposals would not add to the deficit.

Krueger said details of how the programs would be paid for would be included in the budget Obama is scheduled to release on April 10.

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AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow Josh Lederman on Twitter: http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

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