President Barack Obama traveled briefly to — and under — PortMiami on Friday afternoon to push for new ways to secure private dollars for big-ticket projects to renovate highways, bridges, pipes and schools.
Obama toured the port tunnel being built under Biscayne Bay and then praised the project as an example of the local, state and federal government working together, and with private companies, to grow the economy and create construction jobs.
“We still have too many ports that aren’t equipped for today’s world commerce,” the president said. “We’ve still got too many rail lines that are too slow and clogged up. We’ve still got too many roads that are in disrepair, too many bridges that aren’t safe.”
Obama spoke to port workers, business people and politicians gathered at a cargo shipping area lined with containers. He began by noting the spring weather and addressing what he called a “sticky subject” — basketball.
“I know you guys aren’t happy with my Chicago Bulls,” he said, as the crowd booed. “But I just want you to know the Heat are going to be just fine.”
“The Hurricanes, they had a great season,” he added. “Tonight you’ve got Florida and Florida Gulf Coast going at it ... So, let’s face it, Florida is the center of basketball right now.”
Then he turned to the matter at hand: infrastructure.
To promote more private investment in public projects, Obama proposed raising the caps on certain state and local bonds to lower project financing costs and making the bonds available to more types of projects; exempting foreign pension funds from taxes when they want to invest in U.S. infrastructure, as is already done for American pension funds, and spending an additional $4 billion for two programs that have provided loans and grants to projects.