Obama pushes infrastructure at White House event that includes Baltimore mayor

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined a group of governors, mayors and Cabinet secretaries at the White House on Monday for an event with President Barack Obama highlighting infrastructure investments.

The gathering in the State Dining Room was part of a fresh attempt by the administration to focus attention on Obama's plan to invest $50 billion in highway, rail and runway improvements.

Those on hand included Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and mayors from Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Charleston, S.C.

Among the topics on the agenda was a new administration report that says 80 percent of the transportation infrastructure jobs would be created in the construction, manufacturing and retail trade sectors, and that the work would go to sectors of the economy battered by high joblessness.

Obama said a proposed $50 billion transportation spending program would boost jobs in the construction, manufacturing and retail industries, and help rebuild the nation's infrastructure.

"Crumbling" roads, bridges, airports and rail lines are hindering U.S. economic growth, Obama said after the meeting.

A report by the Treasury Department and White House Council of Economic Advisers said the construction industry, where unemployment exceeds 17 percent, would benefit the most from the program, with 61 percent of the jobs created. The national unemployment rate is 9.6 percent.

"For years we have deferred tough decisions" on rebuilding transportation systems, Obama said. "It should not take another collapsing bridge or failing levee to shock us into action."

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