Making the case for new infrastructure developments, President Barack Obama on Sunday said that new developments in technology couldn't account fully for the vast need for improvements in the country's roads and bridges.
Obama said in an interview on ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos that the U.S. is grappling to deal with some economic trends that go "beyond Washington" — for example, the use of ATMs in banks and online travel-booking sites that have led to a decline in bank tellers and travel agents.
One area that Washington could spur growth, five years after the financial crisis, is through further investment in infrastructure, he said.
So there's a whole bunch of stuff that’s happening in the marketplace. But if we have policies that make sure that our kids are prepared for higher skilled jobs. If we have policies that make sure that we’re rebuilding our infrastructure, because a robot can’t build a road. And we need, you know, new ports and a smarter electricity grid, if we’re making investments, to make sure that research and development continues to happen here. If we have tax breaks for companies that are investing here in the United States as opposed to overseas, all those things can make the situation better.
It doesn’t solve the problem entirely, but it pushes against these trends. And the problem that we’ve got right now is you’ve got a portion of– Congress who– whose policies don’t just– wanna– you know, leave things alone, they actually wanna accelerate these trends.
Obama isn't exactly averse to the use of robots and machines across the economy. In 2011, he announced the National Robotics Initiative, a $70 million program that allows for the "development and use of robots" that work alongside and "in close cooperation with" people. It appears that these latest comments were a new plea for investment in infrastructure.
Obama's comments on the economy comes before the next few weeks in Washington are expected to be consumed with budget battles. One will come over the bill to keep the government funded and avoid a shutdown, and the other will come over the need to raise the nation's debt ceiling.
Obama will deliver remarks in the Rose Garden to mark the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis, the White House said. He's also expected to mention the budget debates.
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