Obama unveils plan for attracting private investments for public works

President Obama delivers remarks from the wharf near the PortMiami tunnel project in Miami, Florida on March 29, 2013.

MIAMI - President Obama on Friday unveiled a series of proposals aimed at enticing private investments for public infrastructure projects, which he says will create new jobs, facilitate economic growth, and help modernize America's roads, rails and bridges.

Mr. Obama, speaking at the Port of Miami in Florida, outlined a program of bonds and other measures to encourage such spending on roads, bridges and ports. He said his plan would enable companies to share in returns, and that projects would be selected based on their potential economic benefits rather than "pork-barrel politics."

"Building better roads and bridges and schools, that's not a partisan idea and in fact, that's where you can get mayors and governors from both parties to find some common ground," said Mr. Obama, in his brief speech, which ended before it was scheduled to begin. "I know that Members of Congress are happy to welcome projects like this in your district. I know because I've seen them at the ribbon-cuttings. They'll all say how, 'no we don't want to do it' and then they're all sending me letters saying we really need this pork." 

The price tag for Mr. Obama's program, which needs Congress' OK, is $60 billion. The White House said it won't add to the deficit, but said details on how it would be paid for will be in the budget Obama releases on April 10.

"I know in Washington people just like to argue," said Mr. Obama, in the brief speech, which ended before it was scheduled to begin. "But the fact is you've got the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO agreeing to better infrastructure, knowing that it will help both businesses and workers. So if you got the Chamber and the unions agreeing, then the politicians should be able to agree too."

He says it's one of the most important ways the country can create jobs and improve the economy in the long run.

The port where Obama spoke is undergoing $2 billion in upgrades paid for with government and private money.