In a flood of morning show interviews to sell the $2 trillion infrastructure bill the Biden administration has proposed -- they have dubbed it the American Jobs Plan -- Buttigieg returned to the network for an appearance on America's Newsroom. For the segment, he spoke with Dana Perino and Bill Hemmer. To kick things off, Hemmer ran though some numbers of what the bill contained, noting that there was $650 billion developed to electric grid improvements, broadband internet access, and water systems and $174 billion to spur development and sales of electric vehicles.
"We crunched the numbers and we've found that 5.5 percent -- well 5.6 percent -- of the $2 trillion proposal is only dedicated to roads and bridges," Hemmer said bluntly. "Why is that?"
"Well, we're talking about roads and bridges, we're talking about rails and transit, we're talking about airports and ports," Buttigieg began, underscoring a point he's made before about transportation and infrastructure being more wide-ranging than commonly thought. "As you mentioned, we're talking about things like the grid. I don't know why anybody would say that it's a mistake to invest in the grid after what we just witness in Texas."
"We saw U.S. citizens, living in Texas, melting snow in their bathtubs to be able to flush their toilets," the secretary continued. "In the United States of America that is unacceptable. So yes, infrastructure includes energy infrastructure." Buttigieg was referring to how in February, Texans were left with no electricity and no water as they suffered through historic cold weather. This came as a result of equipment failures at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
Buttigieg continued explaining that infrastructure also includes broadband internet. According to him, in rural areas the lack of broadband internet is cutting many off from opportunities.
"Good infrastructure planning is always about looking to the future," he said. "You know, railroads were not a part of infrastructure until we built them. And I'm sure in the Eisenhower era they weren't thinking about things like broadband, they were still working on electrification which would have sounded newfangled in its time. Now it's time to prepare for the future."
With Hammers inquiry quelled, Perino tried her luck. According to her, there weren't any "shovel-ready" jobs in the Obama administration. She also pointed to John Kerry, who is the Biden's administration Climate Czar, who said that those whose jobs were displaced by the ending of the Keystone pipeline could find new jobs within those that would be created as we explore new energy sources.
\u201c"What's abundantly clear is that this policy we've had in the past of short changing our infrastructure.. that's catching up to us." @PeteButtigieg @SecretaryPete discusses President Biden's $2 Trillion spending bill unveiled on Wednesday @DanaPerino @BillHemmer\u201d
"If this bill does pass, when do you think those jobs would materialize?" she asked.
"Well as you know that's a great example," Buttigieg responded. Perino had played a clip of a coal miner talking about being displaced from work and possibly not finding a new role. "Coal jobs went down under the Trump administration. We have got to have a better plan for the future of coal communities and this president has directed us to be very intentional about that."
According to Buttigieg, the bill has provisions to ensure there are jobs for skilled workers that are a part of the transition. But in addition, more jobs are being created in spaces like the automotive industry for electric vehicles.
"Right now we have got to make sure that we are making smart investments for the future," Buttigieg said after being asked when would all the spending stop. He also pointed out that the bill is also already paid for. "What's abundantly clear is that this policy we've had in the past of shortchanging our infrastructure, that's catching up to us. Any time your car hits a hole in the road, you're paying for that. Any time a bridge collapses in America, we're all paying for that."
"We can invest now or pay the price later," he continued. "I'd rather invest now."