Weekly Address: Congress Must Act on Transportation Bill and Student Loans

The President:
Over the past three years, we’ve
been clawing our way back from the worst economic
crisis of our lifetimes. And we know it will take longer
than any of us would like to fully recover all the jobs and
savings that have been lost. But there are things we
can do — right now — to help put people back to work
and make life a little easier for middle-class families. For months, I’ve been pushing
Congress to help us along by passing common-sense policies
that would make a difference. Democrats and Republicans have
already done some important work together — like passing a tax
cut that’s allowing working Americans to keep more of
their paychecks every week. But Congress has refused to act
on most of the other ideas in my jobs plan that economists
say could put a million more Americans back to work. There is no excuse for
this kind of inaction. Right now, we are seven days
away from thousands of American workers having to walk off the
job because Congress hasn’t passed a transportation bill. We’re eight days away from
nearly seven and a half million students seeing their loan rates
double because Congress hasn’t acted to stop it. This makes no sense. We know that one of the most
important things we can do for our economy is to make sure
that all Americans get the best education possible. Right now, the unemployment rate
for Americans with a college degree or more is about
half the national average. Their incomes are twice as high
as those who don’t have a high school diploma. So, if we know that a higher
education is the clearest path to the middle class, why would
we make it harder to achieve? So much of America needs
to be repaired right now. Bridges are deteriorating
after years of neglect. Highways are choked
with congestion. Transportation delays cost
Americans and businesses billions of dollars every year. And there are hundreds of
thousands of construction workers who have never been more
eager to get back on the job. So why would we let our
transportation funding run out? This is a time when we should be
doing everything in our power — Democrats and Republicans
— to keep this recovery moving forward. My Administration
is doing its part. On Friday, Secretary of
Transportation Ray LaHood announced $500 million in
competitive grants for states and communities that will create
construction jobs on projects like road repair
and port renovation. And that’s an important
step, but we can’t do it all on our own. The Senate did their part. They passed a bipartisan
transportation bill back in March. It had the support of 52
Democrats and 22 Republicans. Now, it’s up to the
House to follow suit; to put aside partisan
posturing, end the gridlock, and do what’s right for
the American people. It’s not lost on any of us
that this is an election year. But we’ve got responsibilities
that are bigger than an election. We answer to the
American people, and they are demanding action. Let’s make it easier for
students to stay in college. Let’s keep construction workers
rebuilding our roads and bridges. And let’s tell Congress
to do their job. Tell them it’s time to take
steps that we know will create jobs now and help sustain our
economy for years to come.

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