Vice President Joe Biden used the seventh anniversary of the administration's economic stimulus package to make a case in New Orleans for increased infrastructure spending throughout the country, arguing that upgrades create jobs and prepare the country for the 21st century economy.
Biden spoke at the Port of New Orleans headquarters Wednesday afternoon after touring a new rail container facility paid for through the 2009 stimulus.
"Great things have been done, but there's so much more we have to do. We've gone from crisis to recovery, we're now on the verge of resurgence," Biden said of the recession and stimulus as he called for new infrastructure and transportation funding. "We're better equipped than any nation in the world to lead the world economically, politically. We just need to get out of our own way."
During the trip, Biden viewed progress on an upgrade to the Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal and Yard, a $16.7 million project funded through the stimulus package. The upgrade includes replacing a rail yard at the port with a modern container rail facility and is expected to be completed by next month.
The project will allow more containers to pass through the port and be immediately loaded onto rail cars to be sent around the country.
"This a money maker, this is a job maker, this is a community maker," Biden said. "This is what America is about this is what we do better than anyone else in the world."
Biden was joined by Gov. John Bel Edwards, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, Deputy U.S. Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez and Port of New Orleans President and CEO Gary LaGrange.
The officials are expected to make public remarks on the project shortly after 11 a.m.
The stimulus, officially known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was a major prong President Barack Obama's efforts to pull the country out of the recession in 2008. The program provided more than $787 billion in spending on a variety of programs, including infrastructure, tax credits and the expansion of unemployment benefits and other projects.
Biden kicked off his remarks acknowledging an elephant in the room: former Gov. Bobby Jindal's opposition to the Obama administration as he laid the groundwork for his failed presidential campaign. That opposition led Jindal to reject stimulus funding for a high-speed rail system between New Orleans and Baton Rouge and money that would have paid to expand rural broadband connections in the state.
"It's great to be with a governor who understands what transportation is," Biden said, referring to Gov. John Bel Edwards. "I just wish I could bring back the 300 million bucks your other guy turned back."
Following his New Orleans visit, Biden will hold similar events in Memphis, Tenn., and St. Paul, Minn.