Transcript for 'Red line is inaction' on infrastructure deal: Sec. Gina Raimondo
As we head towards summer, president Biden is preparing his first overseas trip heading to Europe for the g-7, a visit with the queen and his first summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin where that spate of cyberattacks targeting our daily life will be at the top of the agenda. He hasn't given up on a bipartisan deal on infrastructure, but he's facing pressure from Progressives. And the latest unemployment report shows our economy isn't creating quite as many new jobs as expected. Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo is standing by to address these issues. First, let's get a better sense of where things stand from our senior white house correspondent let's start with the infrastructure talks. The president is to meet with Shelly Caputo, but the two sides are quite far apart with the deadlines looming. Reporter: They are, both sides have shown a willingness to budge here, but not nearly enough to reach a deal. They're still far apart on the scope of this plan, and how to pay for it. The president has now rejected the latest Republican counteroffer to come up, $50 billion in spending, and Republicans have dismissed the president's latest offer to pay for all of this by implementing a 15% minimum corporate tax rate on those companies that now pay little or nothing. Now, the white house will tell you there are no firm deadlines here, but there is a very real sense that time is running out. The president is facing increasing pressure from members of his own party moderates who want him to strike a compromise and the Progressive members who encouraging him to go it alone and do this with just democratic support. On the hill, we know they're readying options to do just that. Here at the white house, the president continues to work the phones reaching out to members of both parties and tomorrow he will sit down with senator Caputo, the lead Republican negotiator. The administration is sounding the alarm about the cyberattacks. This week the FBI director compared the challenge posed to these attacks compared to 9/11. The white house views this as an urgent national security threat, even though many of those being target ready private companies. These hackers have increased shown they're capable of disrupting major part of American life and the white house is now urging companies to take action now, saying no company is safe. The president has made clear he feels that Russia bears some responsibility for these bad actors. We know he plans to push Putin on cybersecurity when they meet face to face next week. The president told me this week that he's considering his options for retaliation. George, the white house says no option is off the table. Mary Bruce, thanks very much. Let's bring in secretary of commerce Gina Raimondo now. Thank you for joining us this Good morning. Good to be with you. Let's start with the cyberattacks. Eight attacks every day in the United States. Right now they're targeting food, they're targeting gas, they're targeting television, water supply. Does the government have to do more to force businesses to protect themselves and their customers? So I think the first thing we have to recognize is this is the reality and we should assume and businesses should assume that these attacks are here to stay and if anything will intensify. And so just last week the white house sent out a letter broadly to the business community urging the business community to do more. The thing -- the only good news here, George, is that some very simple steps like two factor authentication, having proper backups and backup technology, can be enormously helpful against a wide variety of these attacks. So it is clear that the private sector needs to be more vigilant, by the way, including small and medium sized companies. And also president Biden has been clear that we are going to do more. In fact, certain components of the American jobs plan provide for investments to shore up the nation's cyberinfrastructure, which is just another reason why it is so important that the ajp passes. Should the government be requiring these steps by businesses? You know, I think that as I said at this point we are urging businesses, businesses know how to do this, it is relatively inexpensive to do the simpler things like two-factor authentication, and at the moment we're going to, you know, pursue that versus, you know what you're talking about, a little bit more heavy-handed approach. We know a significant number of these attacks are emanating from Russia. Is it time for the administration to take a more aggressive approach and target the source of these attacks? Well, as I said this is a top priority, and, again, the president has been clear. He, we are evaluating all the options and we won't stand for a nation supporting or turning a blind eye to a criminal enterprise. And as the president has said, we're considering all of our options, and we're not taking anything off the table as we think about possible repercussions, consequences or retaliation. Should we be contemplating military action even if these are private, not government entities? As I said, all options are on the table. This is a top priority and all of us in the cabinet and national security council are focused on it and considering all possible consequences. This week when the president meets with Putin and other world leaders, this will be at the top of the agenda. Let's talk about the infrastructure talks. The president meeting with senator Caputo tomorrow on the infrastructure talks. Is this week do or die for a bipartisan deal? No. This is not do or die. You know yourself that, you know, the practice of legislating is much more art than science. There is no one better at it than president Biden. I know from my time as governor, it is a messy process. So, no, it is not do or die. There is no, you know, hard-wired deadline. We're doing the work of legislating. This is a big week. You'll see in the house this week congressman Defazio is moving forward, starting to legislate on a piece of legislation that incorporates many of the president's priorities. We will also at the same time continue our talks with members of the senate. I can tell you, George, I have spoken with many legislators in the senate, Republican and Democrat. There is broad desire to have bipartisan agreement. That is good for the country. The president is leading us to, you know, continue to stay at the table. So we won't do this forever. But right now there are good faith efforts on both sides and we're going to continue the work of, you know, doing our job and trying to get a bipartisan agreement. As you know, a lot of Democrats have a sense of deja Vu. They say this reminds them of the experience that president Obama had with healthcare in 2000, he tried and tried and tried for a bipartisan deal. Basically the clock almost ran out on him and now Progressives like Bernie Sanders and AOC say it is long past time to hold out hope for the negotiations, it is time for Democrats to put this on the floor and pass it on their own. You know, I hear that, we hear that. The president doesn't agree. This president, no one knows better than president Biden how to work with congress, and move to a bipartisan deal. So at this point in time, we're not there yet. And, again, I can just tell you, talking to governors, talking to many, many private sector leaders, talking to senators, Republican and Democrat, folks want a bipartisan deal. If we don't get there, then we'll consider other options. But it is way too soon at the moment to say that, by the way, again, this week, congressman Defazio is moving forward. We are seeing progress. I will tell you, if someone told me two months ago that we would be talking to Republicans about a trillion dollar plus deal and still at the table, I'm not sure I would have believed you. It has been a month of great progress and we have to stick with it a bit longer to see what's possible. Of course, one of the reasons president Biden is trying so hard, you have Democrats like Joe Manchin, who are reluctant to support a Democrats only package. You know you can't pass one without them. Are you confident they're going to come around if bipartisan talks break down. I think they will. They are very engaged, both of them, they want to do what's right. The thing that everyone understands and the president has been crystal clear about this is that the red line is inaction. Right? We have delayed investments in basic research and development, infrastructure improvements, job training, you know, provision of child care for so long that no matter who I talk to, Republican, Democrat, business leader, labor leader, everyone says it is time to make these investments. It is past time to make these investments. So, yes, I think at the end of the day there is commitment that inaction is unacceptable, and we will get something big done for the American people that meets the moment and that makes these investments so that we can compete, so that we can thrive, so that we can, you know, create the millions of jobs that the president's vision and package will enable to be created. Finally, president Biden said on Friday some of the temporary unemployment benefits should expire in September. Republicans like Kevin Mccarthy have been saying we have to stop paying people not to work. Had the extended benefits held back hiring? We hear it anecdotally. I would say there is no evidence that they have significantly held back hiring. Here's what we do know. Those extended benefits have been a lifeline for Americans who have been struggling. They have meant the difference between someone being able to pay the rent or being homeless. Someone being able to feed their children or their kids going hungry and, look, the jobs report on Friday was a good report. Long-term unemployment going down, wages going up, 2 million jobs created in this president's term so far. The most jobs created ever in the first few months of a presidency. So they will expire in September. And, you know, I think the economy will continue to strengthen. But make no mistake about it, they were necessary and they were lifeline for Americans for the past several months during this pandemic. Secretary Raimondo, thank you for your time this morning.
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