The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Weekly Address: Working When Congress Won’t Act

WASHINGTON, DC – In this week’s address, the President discussed actions to expand opportunity for more Americans, with or without the help of Republicans in Congress, including his Administration’s efforts to cut red tape for major transportation infrastructure projects. In the coming days, the President will meet with business leaders to highlight the importance of bringing jobs back to America and will also discuss the economic benefits of making it easier for tourists to visit and spend money at attractions in the U.S., which in turn helps local businesses and grows the economy for everyone. The President has called 2014 a year of action, and he will continue to do whatever he can to continue to strengthen our economy, create jobs and restore opportunity for all.

The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at www.whitehouse.gov at 6:00 a.m. ET, Saturday, May 17, 2014.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
May 17, 2014

Hi, everybody. 

At a time when our businesses have created 9.2 million new jobs in just over four years, and more companies are considering bringing jobs back from overseas, we have a choice to make.  We can make it easier for businesses to invest in America – or we can make it harder. 

I want to work with Congress to create jobs and opportunity for more Americans.  But where Congress won’t act, I will.  And I want to talk about three things we’re doing right now.

First, we’re helping more businesses bring jobs to America from overseas.  Three years ago, my Administration created SelectUSA – a team of people in embassies abroad and agencies here at home focused on insourcing instead of outsourcing.  Today, they’re helping a Belgian company create jobs in Oklahoma. They’re helping a Canadian company create jobs in Kansas.  In my State of the Union Address, I asked more businesses to do their part.  And this week, business leaders from across the country are coming here to the White House to discuss new investments that will create even more jobs.

Second, on Thursday, I’ll be heading to Cooperstown, New York – home of the Baseball Hall of Fame – to talk about tourism.  Because believe it or not, tourism is an export.  And if we make it easier for more foreign visitors to visit and spend money at America’s attractions and unparalleled national parks, that helps local businesses and grows the economy for everyone. 

Finally, we know that investing in first-class infrastructure attracts first-class jobs.  And I want to spend a minute on this, because it’s very important this year.

We know business owners don’t seek out crumbling roads and bridges and backed-up supply chains.  They set up shop where the newest, fastest transportation and communications networks let them invent and sell goods Made in America to the rest of the world as fast as possible.

Here’s the problem: If Congress doesn’t act by the end of this summer, federal funding for transportation projects will run out.  States might have to put some of their projects on hold.  In fact, some already are, because they’re worried Congress won’t clear up its own gridlock.  And if Congress fails to act, nearly 700,000 jobs would be at risk over the next year.

That’s why I put forward a plan to rebuild our transportation infrastructure in a more responsible way.  It would support millions of jobs across the country.  And we’d pay for it without adding to the deficit by closing wasteful tax loopholes for companies that ship jobs overseas.

Now, the Republicans in Congress seem to have very different priorities.  Not only have they neglected to prevent this funding from running out, their proposal would actually cut by 80% a job-creating grant program that has funded high-priority transportation projects in all 50 states. And they can’t say it’s to save money, because at the very same time, they voted for trillions of dollars in new tax cuts, weighted towards those at the very top. 

Think about that.  Instead of putting people to work on projects that would grow the economy for everyone, they voted to give a huge tax cut to households making more than $1 million a year.

So while Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’ll keep doing what I can on my own.

On Wednesday, I was in New York where workers are building the area’s first large new bridge in 50 years.  And they’re doing it ahead of schedule.  Three years ago, I took action without Congress to fast-track the permitting process for major projects.  Normally, it would have taken three to five years to permit that bridge.  We did it in a year and a half.  And I announced a new plan to cut red tape and speed up the process for even more projects across the country.

All these steps will make it easier for businesses to invest in America and create more good jobs.  All of them can be done without Congress.  But we could do a lot more if Congress was willing to help.  In the meantime, I’ll do whatever I can – not just to make America a better place to do business, but to make sure hard work pays off, and opportunity is open to all.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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