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Obama touts $53B high-speed rail plan

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama is calling for a six-year, $53-billion spending plan for high-speed rail, as he seeks to use infrastructure spending to jump-start job creation.

An initial $8 billion in spending will be part of the budget plan Obama is set to release Monday. If Congress approves the plan, the money would go toward developing or improving trains that travel up to 250 mph, and connecting existing rail lines to new projects. The White House wouldn't say where the money for the rest of the program would come from, though it's likely Obama would seek funding in future budgets or transportation bills.

Obama's push for high-speed rail spending is part of his broad goal of creating jobs in the short term and increasing American competitiveness for the future through new funding for infrastructure, education and innovation. During last month's State of the Union address, Obama said he wanted to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years.

At the same time he's calling for new spending on sectors like high-speed rail in the upcoming budget, Obama also has pledged to cut overall spending as he seeks to bring down the nation's deficit.

Vice President Joe Biden said yesterday the administration wouldn't compromise when it comes to spending on the infrastructure, education and innovation programs Obama is touting.

"We cannot compromise. The rest of the world is not compromising," Biden said in Philadelphia at an event announcing the rail initiative.

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