By JULIE PACE
FILE – President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, in this March 28, 2013 file photo. In his quick trip to South Florida, Friday March 29, 2013 Obama will try to show the public that the economy remains his top priority in the midst of high-profile campaigns on immigration reform and gun control. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama will promote a plan to create jobs by attracting private investment in highways and other public works during a visit Friday to a Miami port, a senior administration official said.
The president will flesh out details of his proposals in a speech at the port, which is undergoing $2 billion in upgrades paid for with government and private money. Obama, in the quick trip to South Florida, will try to show that the economy remains his top priority in the midst of high-profile campaigns on immigration reform and gun control.
Among the proposals Obama will call for:
—Higher caps on “private activity bonds” to encourage more private spending on highways and other infrastructure projects. State and local governments use the bonds to attract investment.
—Giving foreign pension funds tax-exempt status when selling U.S. infrastructure, property or real estate assets. U.S. pension funds are generally tax exempt in those circumstances. The administration says some international pension funds cite the tax burden as a reason for not investing in American infrastructure.
—$4 billion in new spending on two infrastructure programs that award loans and grants.
—A renewed call for a $10 billion national “infrastructure bank” — a proposal from his first term that gained little traction.
The administration official was not authorized to discuss the proposals before they were announced publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The president made private-sector infrastructure investment a key part of the economic agenda he rolled out in his State of the Union address last month. He also called in his address for a “Fix-It-First” program that would spend $40 billion in taxpayer funds on urgent repairs.
Obama’s focus on generating more private sector investment underscores the tough road new spending faces on Capitol Hill, where Republican lawmakers often threaten to block additional spending unless it is paid for by tax cuts or other measures.
The official said any increased spending associated with the proposals Obama was outlining Friday would not add to the deficit. But the official did not detail how the costs would be paid for, saying only that more information would be included in the president’s budget.
Obama will release his budget April 10.