Infrastructure Plan: Buttigieg defends tax hikes, non-transport proposals

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Thursday defended criticism that the Biden administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan contains items Republicans argue are unrelated to infrastructure.

In an MSNBC interview, anchor Stephanie Ruhle brought up Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) having said the plan “appears to use ‘infrastructure’ as a Trojan horse for the largest set of tax hikes in a generation,” which McConnell argued would “kill jobs and hold down wages at the worst possible time”.

“It’s not Trojan, it’s American,” Buttigieg quipped. “And it’s not a horse, it’s a highway system, and railways, and airports, ports, and a lot of other things that Americans need.”

The former South Bend, Indiana mayor went on to argue that upping the corporate tax rate to “pay their fair share” is necessary for funding the infrastructure proposals, also saying that “business thrives in countries that take care of their infrastructure.”

Buttigieg had previously floated a “mileage tax” to bankroll an earlier version of the infrastructure plan, but scrapped it following much outcry.

RELATED: Taxes Anyone? Buttigieg weighs ‘mileage tax’ to pay for $3 trillion infrastructure bill

Ruhle later pointed out to the transportation secretary that there is a lot in the plan that Americans “absolutely need” but “wouldn’t be considered traditional infrastructure,” adding that the plan proposes a lot more than just roads and railways.

Buttigieg responded by arguing that railways in the 1860s and an interstate highway system in the 1950s weren’t considered “traditional infrastructure,” saying that both are at the core of the United States’ present-day infrastructure.

Some controversial parts of the plan include funds for electric vehicle development, care for elderly and disabled Americans, and building and retrofitting affordable housing, among other proposals.

Nonetheless, Buttigieg also said during the interview that he’s “not gonna give up on earning Republican support” for the plan.

Watch the full MSNBC interview here.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.