Obama seeks new infrastructure for job creation

For every dollar of government spending on infrastructure, economists say $1.44 is returned because of the wide variety of business sectors that spending touches.
CBS News

Hurricane Irene persuaded President Obama to cut short his vacation on Martha's Vineyard, where he worked on the job creation plan he'll unveil after Labor Day.

Most of the president's plan for jobs is still being developed -- except for one idea he's been pushing hard and pushing in public, reports CBS News White House correspondent Wyatt Andrews.

"Let's rebuild America," the President said in a recent speech.

The President wants to spend big on the nation's roads and bridges, starting with a two-year, $109 billion spending package that's been stalled between the House and the Senate -- but which he argues -- will put tens of thousands of people back to work quickly.

But the roads bill is controversial, because its not all paid for -- and would involve new borrowing. Some economists say it's worth it.

When Moody's studied the 2009 stimulus package, infrastructure spending rated high. For every dollar spent, $1.44 was returned to the economy.

"Infrastructure projects have a large bang for the buck because they employ a lot of people, they require a lot of material and inputs, so a lot of economic activity is generated by those projects," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's.

House Republican Leader Eric Cantor has already told members to resist new borrowing even for new jobs to "(stop) the discussion of new stimulus spending with money that we simply do not have."

But another part of the infrastructure package will encourage businesses to retrofit their buildings to become energy efficient. The proposal would give tax breaks to those who retrofit, but would not involve direct spending.

"This helps to employ workers particularly unemployed construction workers, but also helps with respect to energy independence," said Zandi.

This week, the President's private industry jobs council will hold two meetings where business and labor leaders will be asked the quickest way to generate jobs-with one whole day next Thursday focused on how to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges railroads and ports.

  • Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.