Barack Obama

Obama Looks to Attract Private Investment in Public Works Projects

Wants to increase caps on some municipal bonds, exempt foreign pension funds from taxes

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Speaking at PortMiami on Friday afternoon, President Barack Obama will propose new ways for governments to secure private dollars for big-ticket highway, bridge and other public works projects to boost the economy.

Among the president's proposals will be raising caps on certain state and local bonds to allow them to be used for more types of projects, exempting foreign pension funds from taxes when they involve infrastructure and other real-estate assets and spending an additional $4 billion for two programs that provide loans and grants to public-works projects — all intended to gin up private investment for the upgrades, according to a White House official.

In his State of the Union address last month, Obama made public-works spending a crucial portion of his economic agenda for the year, proposing a program that would spend $40 billion in public money on needed repairs to the country's aging roads and bridges. Republicans in Congress, however, have opposed new spending that grows the deficit and is not paid for by tax cuts or other budget savings.