Obama's Jobs Council Meets at SMU's Cox to Insist Infrastructure's the Way Back to Work

Categories: Politics

jobscouncilatsmu.JPG
Photo by Leslie Minora
The mustachioed man in the middle is Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO
The day before the Labor Department broke the dismal news that the unemployment rate's unchanged and consumer confidence has "dropped sharply," students, professors and local business leaders filed into the auditorium at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business to hear from two panels of business and governmental leaders as part of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness listening session. The event, one of two held this week, addressed infrastructure investment and its impact on employment and the economy. Which is why they started the day at Love Field, which is in the process of being modernized. Because, as Eddie Bernice Johnson said during her speech at the airport, "We need jobs, and this is an example of what infrastructure can do for a city." At which point she handed out scholarships to everyone in attendance. No, no she didn't.

Back at the Cox, panelists -- among them Southwest Airline's bossman Gary Kelly and AT&T's Chief Technology Officer John Donovan, who's probably had better weeks -- stressed the need for infrastructure investment and the bipartisan support necessary to make it happen. Some of their fellow panelists also spoke in favor of a federal infrastructure bank, while others chastised the cumbersome permitting processes that holds up new development. All this, of course, is supposed to somehow make it into Obama's NFL kick-off speech about his plan to ease unemployment, stimulate the economy and reduce the federal deficit.

Economist and University of California Berkley business professor, Laura D'Andrea Tyson, moderated the day's first panel, and began with an introduction stressing the importance of spending on infrastructure to create. Tyson cited as Love Field as a "fantastic example" of a public-private infrastructure investment. "Anytime you see an orange cone," jobs are sustained or created, said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Well, jobs are a priority of President Obama," he said, in one of the day's many mini-infomercials for politicians, policies and projects.

Until recently, LaHood said, infrastructure investing has been one thing both parties could agree on. "The simple solution to lowering unemployment and putting Americans back to work is passing the transportation bill," he said, referencing another topic that resurfaced throughout the morning.

If the bill is not passed, 630,000 jobs will be lost next year, said Richard Trumka, president of AFL-CIO and a member of the president's council. "We've got to stop nickle-and-diming our public's assets," he said.

Tom Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spoke in favor of a fuel tax, touted the transportation bill and stressed the importance and job-creation potential of modernizing air traffic control. He gave a nod of support for the Keystone pipeline project that would carry oil from Alberta, Canada, to Gulf Coast refineries, and create, he said, 250,000 jobs.

There is a back-log of stalled energy jobs throughout the country, Donahue said. "The permitting process is insane."

LaHood spoke in support of an infrastructure bank that would leverage funding for public-private partnerships, an idea expected to be addressed in Obama's speech next week.

Robert Wolf, president of UBS Investment Bank and Chairman of UBS Americas and a member of the president's council, moderated the second panel, with business leaders in aviation, surface transportation, energy and broadband. Wolf offered his support of a federal infrastructure bank, calling infrastructure investment the "largest multiplier" in increasing GDP and employment. The bank, he said, would alleviate the burden on the federal government, increase economic growth, improve mobility and create jobs.

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10 comments
Joe Lindsay
Joe Lindsay

Infrastructure spending is an almost perfect solution.  The infrastructure has got to be repaired and enhanced anyway. Why not do it now when contracting is cheaper and unemployment high? In the long run the savings will militate towards bringing public debt down and spending now will stimulate the economy.

HughinDallas
HughinDallas

Mr. Lahood oversaw recently the loss of tons of over the road drivers jobs with his "let Mexicans deliver all the way to Maine plan".   The insourcing of immigrants to do American jobs that can't be exported is just plain wrong.

Time for Eddie Bernice to retire, and someone that isn't owned by 'downtown' is elected.  But that still leaves us with Jeb and Pete.   Two guys that haven't never met a free flight they didn't like.

Its So Sad
Its So Sad

Has anyone else noticed that our government's response to stimulus, job creation and the economy is eerily similar to the Great Depression? Apparently we need another Works Progress Administration because that did SOOO well in the 1930's!

Since we are now repeating history (blame public education!) then we should expect a major world-wide war in the next 10 years. These little wars we're fighting don't provide enough stimulus spending.

BC
BC

Fitting that Trumpka was there because this is more about Obama shoring up the Union vote than it is about jobs.  Governments do not create private sector jobs, businesses do.  In the last week the Obama Justice Dept. sued to block the AT&T--T-Mobile merger and announced it was suiung all the big banks on behalf of poor misled Fannie and Freddie Mac.  Wow, now those 2 moves are pro-business and jobs!!!   

Jd
Jd

What about the Trinity tollroad!  Lots of jobs there.

Mike
Mike

Where do they get these numbers?  250,000 jobs from a single pipeline?  What are they using to build it, rakes and shovels?

Chirobote
Chirobote

"Anytime you see an orange cone," jobs are sustained or created...

So in theory, we just need to build 1 or 2 cone factories and we will never have to worry about unemployment in this country again.

Heywood U Buzzoff
Heywood U Buzzoff

Because, as Eddie Bernice Johnson said during her speech at the airport, "We need jobs, and this is an example of what infrastructure can do for a city." At which point she handed out scholarships to everyone in attendance. No, no she didn't.

:-)

Bdchase
Bdchase

Why don't they build a refinery next to the tarsand deposit then ship the gas and stuff via truck,more jobs???

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