'We're gonna find a really good strong deal space' on infrastructure: Buttigieg

George Stephanopoulos interviews Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on "This Week."
8:22 | 04/04/21

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Transcript for 'We're gonna find a really good strong deal space' on infrastructure: Buttigieg
If we're looking at ideals and what we think is the actual investment that can create tens of millions of good union jobs in this country that can shore up our health care, our infrastructure, our housing, we're talking about realistically $10 trillion over ten years. The last thing the economy needs right now is a big whopping tax increase on all the sections of our economy. I'm going to fight them every step of the way because I think this is the wrong prescription for America. We just heard from senator Roy blunt in Missouri, and now we're joined by one of the cabinet members leading this bill, secretary Pete buttigieg. Secretary buttigieg, thanks for joining us this morning. You just heard senator blunt right there who said, if you're really focused on core infrastructure, you might have a chance of passing this, and it is true that only about 5% of this bill goes for traditional roads and bridges. You've got 20% caregiving for the elderly, and about 13% investments in things like the green new deal. Why not focus on that core infrastructure? Let's be clear. There's a lot more than roads and bridges that are part of infrastructure. I heard the governor of south Dakota recently saying this isn't infrastructure. It's got money for pipes. We believe that pipes are infrastructure because you need water to live and too many families now live with the threat of led poisoning. That's absolutely infrastructure, you know, you talk about roads and bridges, but also airports and ports. We need to make sure that we have broad band. I know that traditionally the internet wasn't considered infrastructure because in the Eisenhower years, of course, it didn't exist, but infrastructure investment has to include looking to the future. Railroads seemed futuristic and then we actually built them. Now they're considered traditional infrastructure. You could say the same about highways, and I've got a lot of respect for senator blunt, but I'm going to work to try to persuade him that electrical charging infrastructure is absolutely a core part of how Americans are going to need to get around in the future, and not the distant, far off future, but right now. I know you're going to work hard to persuade him. Didn't get any Republicans on the original relief bill. Is it a realistic prospect to expect Republicans to come around now? I think it can be. I'm having a lot of conversations with Republicans in the house and senate who have been wanting to do something big on infrastructure for years. We may not agree about every piece of it, but this is one area where the American people absolutely want to see us get it done where members on both sides of the aisle talk about getting it done for a long time, and this is a once in a lifetime moment. I don't think in the next 50 years we're going to see another time when we have this combination of a demonstrated need, bipartisan interest, widespread impatience and a president that is committed to it. This is not just the infrastructure itself, but the jobs we're going to create. An independent analysis by economists said early they are week that this would lead to 19 million jobs. This is critically important because of the changes that are already happening to labor, and to manufacturing in this country, to be creating and supporting those jobs for the future. Yes, I think this is something that everybody can get behind, and we're going to keep working to try to earn that support across the aisle. One way or the other, we have got to get it done. There is skepticism in parts of the labor community. In Pennsylvania, it was talked about on green new jobs. He said, they keep saying, we're going to transition you into solar jobs. That's not how it worked. We build power plants, petrochemical plants and maintain steel mills. Would you ask Tom Brady to play middle linebacker just because he's a football player? I'm not saying we're going to take a machinist and turn them into a computer programmer. What I'm saying is we're going to have jobs for insulators on these building retrofits and painters and carpenters, union jobs. We're going to have union car makers. Why not have them leading the revolution into electric vehicles? Which by the way, there is a very hot competition for in China and a lot of other places. We're not talking about extremely mysterious job creation here. We're talking about jobs that already exist that we can understand if you're a specialist in dealing with mining, we've got to cap a lot of mines too, and so that'll create jobs. I understand the hesitation because there have been a lot of moments where promises have not been kept to labor and that's one of the reasons why I think having one of the most pro-labor presidents we have had in a long time is going to work well for workers and it's one of the reasons why we're seeing workers right there alongside a lot of other advocacy groups and communities line up. If you don't get any Republicans to vote for those tax increases, you need every Democrat, but senators like Joe Manchin have signaled that a 27% corporate tax is too high. You can't pass it without every Democrat. I think we're going to find a really strong, good deal space on this because again, most Americans want to get it done and one of the things that's really striking and I won't spend too much time looking at polls, but I saw research come back shows the American people like this plan even more when you explain how we're going to pay for it, and the reason is simple which is that corporations we all know have not been paying their fair share. They're paying zero on millions of dollars in profits. They're paying less than a firefighter or a school teacher not just in percent terms, but in dollar terms and that's wrong. We're going to reset the corporate tax rate to a rate that is by the way, still lower than it's been for most my lifetime, and has been a rate where America has been perfectly competitive for decades, and in doing that, create again, by some estimates, 19 million good paying jobs, most of which don't require somebody to have a college degree. Several house Democrats though have said they won't support the bill unless you reinstate the federal income tax reduction for state and federal income taxes. What do you say to those Democrats? Well, look. We can look at any number of ideas. We know that this is entering a legislative process where we're going to be hearing from both sides of the aisle, and I think you'll find the president's got a very open mind, but time is of the essence. So we'll look at these ideas on how to pay for it. We'll look at ideas on where the investments ought to be too, but the president is hoping for major progress from congress before memorial day, and we can't allow this to keep dragging on because the need is there today. Each passing day that our infrastructure crumbles, that hurts our economy and puts our safety in danger, and the American people are impatient to get this done. We're determined to make sure that infrastructure week is no longer a punch line around Washington. That's what this will do, and it's time for action. Do those Progressives like AOC who we showed her at the top, she says $10 trillion is what we need, and this isn't big enough. Your response? There are obviously a lot of people on the other side of the aisle saying this is too big, too bold, and then some of to our friends on our side of the aisle are saying it should be even bolder. Again, that's a natural part of this conversation in this process, but let me stress, this is the biggest investment in American job creation. Propose -- or if achieved since World War II. This is a huge deal, and what it would mean to have 10,000 bridges around America replaced, or improved. What it would mean to get broad band out to every single American, what it would mean to have zero lead pipes remaining in those services, as well as that 19 million job figure. Secretary buttigieg, thank you for your time. Thanks for having me.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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