Democrat Barack Obama said Wednesday that as president he would spend $210 billion to create jobs in construction and environmental industries, as he tried to win over economically struggling voters.
Obama's investment would be over 10 years as part of two programs. The larger is $150 billion to create 5 million so-called "green collar" jobs to develop more environmentally friendly energy sources.
Sixty billion would go to a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank to rebuild highways, bridges, airports and other public projects. Obama estimated that could generate nearly 2 million jobs, many of them in the construction industry that's been hit by the housing crisis.
"This agenda is paid for," Obama said as the Republican National Committee promoted an "Obama Spend-O-Meter" online to track his proposals and portray him as a tax-and-spend liberal. Obama explained that the money for his spending proposals will come from ending the Iraq war, cutting tax breaks for corporations, taxing carbon pollution and raising taxes on high income earners.
Obama, who has faced criticism that he doesn't have enough policy specifics, asked autoworkers at the General Motors plant in Janesville, Wis., to "bear with me" as his began a policy speech that he said would be unlike his typical rousing addresses to rallies. He read from a TelePrompTer in a cavernous training room, flanked by sparkling new vehicles and a large American flag.
"Today I want to take it down a notch," Obama said. "This is going to be a speech that's a little more detailed. It's going to be a little bit longer, not as many applause lines.
Obama pointedly did not include one of his biggest applause lines, that he would require vehicle manufacturers to raise fuel economy standards. Obama often points out that he delivered that message straight to the automakers during a speech last year in Detroit.
But he didn't mention it on the plant visit that came a day after GM reported the largest annual loss ever for an American automaker - $38.7 billion in 2007.
"I know that General Motors received some bad news yesterday," Obama said. "I also know how much progress you've made, how many hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles you're churning out. And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to retool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years."
Obama heads into Tuesday's Wisconsin primary as the favorite in the state and the front-runner for the nomination. His victories this week in eight contests have put him ahead of rival Hillary Rodham Clinton in the delegate chase.