Pete ButtigiegPhoto: Shutterstock
Out Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg went back on Fox News to teach conservatives basic facts about how infrastructure works, after he spent the 2020 presidential campaign appearing on the network to slap back wild claims Trump supporters were making.
This time, he had to explain that airports, electricity, and running water are essential to a functional society to the Fox News audience.
President Joe Biden on Wednesday presented a $2 trillion infrastructure investment package that he said would create “the strongest, most resilient, innovative economy in the world” and millions of “good-paying jobs.”
Conservatives immediately balked at the proposal, a lot of them claiming that major parts of the bill aren’t about infrastructure. America’s Newsroom co-host Bill Hemmer took that argument further than most and claimed that “only” 5.6 percent of the bill is “dedicated to roads and bridges.”
“Well, we’re talking about roads and bridges, we’re talking about rails and transit, we’re talking about airports and ports,” Buttigieg said. “As you mentioned, we’re talking about things like the [power] grid. I don’t know why anybody would say that it’s a mistake to invest in the grid after what we just witnessed in Texas.”
“We saw U.S. citizens, living in Texas, melting snow in their bathtubs to be able to flush their toilets,” he continued. “That is unacceptable.”
Co-host Dana Perino went after Biden’s claims about jobs, bizarrely implying that the U.S. government could spend $2 trillion dollars on various projects without anyone getting a job.
She played a clip from a coal miner – Donald Trump talked a lot about coal miners during his 2016 campaign and about a quarter of those jobs were lost during his administration – and asked “If this bill does pass, when do you think those jobs would materialize?”
“Coal jobs went down under the Trump administration,” Buttigieg shot back, explaining that spending money to expand infrastructure will necessarily require paying people to do the work of expanding infrastructure. And the purpose of infrastructure is to help people and businesses by making investments that benefit everyone but that aren’t profitable for any one company to do, which will lead to more jobs.
Hemmer brought up the $1.9 trillion stimulus package Congress passed earlier this month, asking, “When does the spending stop?” This is the opposite of Perino’s point – stopping spending necessarily destroys jobs when the spending is on people’s salaries.
“As a percentage of GDP, we’re kind of short compared to our competitors in terms of what we invest,” Buttigieg said, adding that the plan is “paid for.” He was referring to increases in taxes on households making over $400,000 a year and multinational corporations, which the administration projects will pay for the plan in 15 years.