New York — United States Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says if the nation's troubled transportation system, which is currently "teetering on the edge of insolvency" isn't fixed quickly, 700,000 people could soon be out of work.
Speaking at the national convention of Al Sharpton's National Action Network in New York City Thursday, Foxx highlighted how important a good and sustainable transportation infrastructure is to economic growth and access, before pointing to the dilemma.
"Our transportation system is teetering on the edge of insolvency. As soon as August to September of this year, the major funding source for our highway systems, our transit systems, the Highway Trust Fund is going to go belly-up," said Foxx. "And the reason for that is because it's gas tax dependent and people are riding more fuel-efficient cars and there's not enough money. We're basically short about $18 billion a year."
He then pointed to President Barack Obama's proposed $302 billion transportation bill to address the problem, which he said does not have enough support or consensus in Washington.
"To fill this gap and actually do more, our president has announced a framework to add $302 billion to our nation's infrastructure, using not only existing gas tax dollars, but also pro-growth business tax reform," he said.
President Obama announced the $302 billion plan in February and it is expected to get some of its funding from reforms to the tax code, according to The Washington Post. That same day in February when Obama announced his proposal, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) put forward a plan for tax code reform, including a dedicated $126.5 billion to fund highway and infrastructure investment.
The White House says Camp's plan would contribute to the deficit because it fails to extend the earned-income tax credit.
On Thursday, Foxx touted the wisdom of Obama's proposal.
"What this means for communities, just like the ones in which you live, is that if we can work to not just make the Highway Trust Fund solvent, but actually increase the amount of money we're investing, … we can do more projects like building stronger roads, repairing highways and bridges and lifting up people by creating jobs today," he continued.
"We're going to have 100 million more people in this country by 2050 and we're gonna need to move 14 billion more tons of freight around this country. That means jobs, it means opportunities to construct those projects, but also the jobs they facilitate," he explained.
"Don't go back home and not think about this transportation situation and the fact that by August to September, we're gonna have to do something or 700,000 people who are working right now may be out of work. But more importantly, we're gonna lose the opportunity to put millions of Americans back to work by making the right investments in transportation," he warned.