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Obama Calls U.S. Infrastructure ‘Embarrassing’ Compared to China — Before Acknowledging One Big Difference

"I understand we’re not going to do that.”

President Barack Obama speaks to leading CEOs to discuss ways to promote the economy and create jobs during his last two years in office, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, at the Business Roundtable Headquarters in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Barack Obama on Wednesday hailed the efficiency of Chinese infrastructure, saying, “If they need to build something they will build it.”

But he later added an important point: “You’ve got an authoritarian government that’s not necessarily accountable. I understand we’re not going to do that.”

Obama spoke to the Business Roundtable in Washington, a pro-business advocacy group, about a host of issues such as trade, immigration reform, the federal budget and infrastructure.

President Barack Obama speaks to leading CEOs to discuss ways to promote the economy and create jobs during his last two years in office, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, at the Business Roundtable Headquarters in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) President Barack Obama speaks to leading CEOs to discuss ways to promote the economy and create jobs during his last two years in office, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, at the Business Roundtable Headquarters in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The president talked about his time in China last month at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

“I’d much rather have our problems than China’s problems. That I’m confident about,” Obama said speaking about the broader economy.

“On the other hand, the one thing I will say, if they need to build some things, they will build it. Over time, that wears away our advantage competitively. It’s embarrassing,” Obama continued. “You drive down the roads and you look at what they are able to do. The place that we stayed at for the APEC summit was this lavish conference center. It probably put most of the conference centers here to shame. They built it in a year.”

Obama added there is a reason for efficiency.

“Now, you’ve got an authoritarian government that’s not necessarily accountable,” Obama, said. “I understand we’re not going to do that. They’re able to build their ports, their airports, smart grid, and their air traffic control systems with that rapidity, and they are highly superior to ours. Overtime, that is going to be a problem for us.”

Obama said that he wanted to work with Republican leaders, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, to push infrastructure initiatives.

“I’m going to talk to McConnell and Boehner to see what we can do short term and to see if these bipartisan bills have any legs,” Obama said. “They’ll have a better sense of head counts. Even if we were able to get something done, it would not be the kind of 10-year solution that we need.”

One last thing…
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