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Fix the Roads to Fix the Economy

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There is work to do in America, and Americans who need work.

President-elect Barack Obama wants to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild this country's neglected infrastructure. He's right. It's really a no-brainer.

We bailed out the banks. We can certainly repave Main Street -- and help out the working families who live there.

I travel around this country a lot. Everywhere I go, I see streets and highways that need resurfacing, bridges about to fall down and airports in dire need of new runways. Amtrak urgently needs repair, and transit systems can't handle record numbers of riders.

Spending on these projects will create jobs directly. It will put many of the 800,000 unemployed construction workers in the U.S. back to work. It will create jobs for truck drivers, painters, waste haulers, engineers and more.

Unlike financial services jobs, these jobs can't move to Bangalore. They stay here. They support families here. They keep working families in their homes.

Working families spend money in local grocery stores, local clothing shops and local restaurants. Their spending keeps those businesses afloat and their workers employed.

A construction worker or truck driver with a job will pay far more in local taxes than a construction worker or truck driver without a job. Those taxes will pay for teachers, police officers, sanitation workers and city clerks. Those teachers will also pay taxes -- and shop in local grocery stores, local clothing shops and local restaurants, and educate our children.

Infrastructure investments will do more for Americans than the bank bailout. All American taxpayers got from the bank bailout was an equity stake in troubled financial institutions. And, with the lack of oversight of the bailout, even that is questionable.

Infrastructure investments give you roads, bridges, transit systems, railroads and airports. They reduce travel time, increase productivity and improve our competitiveness in the global marketplace. They put money in the pockets of working families and in the treasuries of state and local governments.

Most important, investing in infrastructure will reverse the downward spiral that our economy has been in for more than a year. I hope Congress will have the good sense to pass a stimulus bill that will be ready for President Obama's signature on Jan. 20. It won't be a moment too soon.

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