The Vice President devoted much of his speech to the resurgence in American manufacturing. He said manufacturers and exporters stood to gain even more when work on widening the Panama Canal finishes up in 2015 — allowing larger ships through and reducing shipping costs by up to 60%.
To that end, Biden called on Congress to approve funding to upgrade the nation’s ports, bridges, and roads. The Obama administration is asking Congress for an investment of $50 billion to accomplish this, with the aim of encouraging state and local governments to raise the additional funds needed.
“If we made that investment today, we would create 650,000 new jobs — good-paying jobs, decent jobs you can raise a family on, not minimum wage – 650,000 new jobs by that one action alone, let alone the number of jobs it would generate as a consequence of that investment. And it would lock in a new era of manufacturing dominance for the United States of America.”
The Vice President said countries such as Brazil and Mexico are already spending large amounts of money to upgrade their own ports. He said the U.S. could wind up losing manufacturing to these and other countries unless it’s willing to invest in keeping its ports competitive.
Biden heads to Panama next to meet with President Ricardo Martinelli and to inspect the Panama Canal Expansion Project.