Geithner touts jobs plan on Kentucky visit

Reuters News

9/26/2011 8:05:05 PM - Reuters News

By Steve Robrahn

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner touted the administration's jobs proposal in the hometown of one of the plan's top Republican opponents, less than a week after President Barack Obama made his pitch in neighboring Ohio.

After touring the United Parcel Service Inc hub in Louisville, hometown of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Geithner said infrastructure spending in the $447 billion jobs plan will help relieve transportation bottlenecks that cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars a year.

"It makes companies more competitive," he said. "It lowers their costs. It's like a tax cut."

On Thursday, President Obama paid a visit to nearby Cincinnati in the backyard of Republican House Speaker John Boehner to ratchet up pressure for congressional approval of the jobs plan, using an aging bridge as a prop.

Clogged U.S. roads cost the economy $80 billion a year in lost productivity and wasted fuel, the Treasury Department said in a statement. Flight delays cost another $33 billion in lost productivity.

UPS estimates the package deliverer loses $100 million for every five minutes its fleet of trucks is stuck in traffic.

"The business of America is business but there'll be less business for the country as a whole unless we do a better job of fixing American infrastructure," Geithner said.

UPS Chairman Scott Davis, who accompanied Geithner on his tour through the maze of conveyors, chutes and bar-code scanners inside the air hub, urged the president and Congressional leaders to reach bipartisan solutions to put people back to work.

Davis said UPS had invested $2 billion in its Louisville air hub in recent years based on a belief that there will be more growth in the world economy during the next decade than there was during the last decade.

"So we need capacity," he said. "The same goes for our country."

"Infrastructure repair -- repairing of roads and airports -- does not make the government bigger," Geithner said. "It just makes the economy work better for business."

In an ABC World News interview, Geithner said there is a very good chance Obama's jobs plan will win Congressional approval. "If you listen carefully, beneath all the political rhetoric, I think you see very broad support for the tax measures the president proposed," Geithner said.

"There's no reason not to do them. They've been bipartisan in the past. There's no reason not to do them except for politics, Geithner said.

During his visit to Kentucky, Geithner also reiterated his hope that the European Union move quickly to resolve its debt crisis.

"We've got a very simple message for Europe and I think they are moving -- they are certainly trying to signal -- more commitment to put more force behind their efforts to try to deal with the financial crisis they are facing," he said.

(Editing by Andrew Stern and Todd Eastham)