We looked for background material this morning to accompany the President’s speech at the AFL-CIO’s Laborfest in Milwaukee, where he announced and briefly discussed a proposal to spend $50 billion on infrastructure. There’s a little, here and there.

A transcript of the President’s speech is here.

There’s a two-and-a-half page summary sheet, available via a blog post by the vice president’s economic adviser, Jared Bernstein, entitled, “Let’s Stop Torturing Facts and Start Working Together.” (How’s that for extending hand of cooperation?)

Excerpt from fact sheet:

This plan would build on the investments we have already made under the Recovery Act, create jobs for American workers to strengthen our economy now, and increase our nation’s growth and productivity in the future. At the same time, the plan would reform the way America currently invests in transportation, changing our focus to enhancing competition, innovation, performance, and real analysis that gets taxpayers the best bang for the buck, while moving away from the earmarks and formula debates of the past. In prior years, transportation infrastructure was an issue that both parties worked on together, and the Administration hopes the same can be true now.

Some of the tangible accomplishments of the President’s plan over the next six years include:

  • ROADS: Rebuild 150,000 miles of roads – renewing our commitment to the backbone of our transportation system;
  • RAILWAYS: Construct and maintain 4,000 miles of rail – enough to go coast-to-coast;
  • RUNWAYS: Rehabilitate or reconstruct 150 miles of runway – while putting in place a NextGen system that will reduce travel time and delays.

Note to White House writers: Prolepsis notwithstanding, it’s not a “tangible accomplishment” until it actually happens.

At the Department of Transportation’s website, we don’t find any additional information on the President’s proposal. (Searched at 7:37 a.m., Tuesday.) There’s a Distracted Driving Summit coming up, through.

Senior White House advisers on Monday briefed reporters on the proposal. From Politico, “President Obama unveils $50 billion road, rail plan“:

Senior administration officials, in a conference call with reporters Monday morning, would not say whether they would push Congress to pass a bill before the end of 2010.

“These types of reauthorizations have always been a substantial undertaking,” one official said. “This one is particularly ambitious because of the front loading and the set of reforms.”

Under the best-case scenario, however, jobs would be created in 2011, the official said. “This is not an … immediate jobs plan. This is a six-year reauthorization that’s front-loaded,” according to the senior administration official. “We’re not trying to put out an idea today that in October 2010 will be creating jobs.”

Oh. But the surface transportation authorization expired on Sept. 30, 2009. As the National Governors Association summarized:

Comprehensive federal laws and regulations that guide national surface transportation policies and programs expired in September 2009. While the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5) provided one-time funding for highway and transit infrastructure spending, Congress has not passed a long-term authorization.

The National Association of Manufacturers regards investment in infrastructure as a central responsibility of the federal government and a competitive imperative, as covered in our NAM ManuFact. The economic value of investing  in infrastructure was a central thrust of the Milken Institute study the NAM released in January, 2010, “Jobs for America: Investments and policies for economic growth and competitiveness,” and the NAM prominently cites the need for infrastructure investment in our policy guide and call to action, “Manufacturing Strategy for Jobs and a Competitive America.”

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