Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will “boost his own brand” with a proposed $3 trillion infrastructure spending extravaganza.
Yahoo News published a story titled, “Buttigieg looks to remake America’s crumbling infrastructure — and boost his own brand in the process”:
An early outline of the plan, published on Monday by the New York Times, has the Biden administration spending $3 trillion on everything from rural Internet to green housing. Few other details are available, in particular how Biden will find the requisite congressional support, and funding, for the plan. But the fight over infrastructure is coming, and Buttigieg will be in the middle of the scrum.
First and foremost, he’ll be the administration’s salesman, making the case to Republican governors and mayors that supporting the infrastructure plan will be in their best interests. He has also pledged to turn the Transportation Department into an unlikely crucible of progressive policy, vowing when he first came to Washington that the agency would “rise to the climate challenge.” He has also promised to apply an “equity lens” to infrastructure projects.
National infrastructure, racial equity and climate change are an ambitious portfolio for the young secretary. They also sound like the sturdy pillars of a Democratic presidential campaign, something Buttigieg won’t talk about but that is not lost on his former staffers.
“He gets to be Build Back Better,” an anonymous former presidential campaign staffer told Yahoo, referring to Biden’s campaign slogan.
“He gets blank checks. He can tie himself to feel-good projects coming out of the administration,” the person said.
Yahoo noted the spending extravaganza also affords Buttigieg the opportunity to travel the country and introduce himself “to prospective voters, and tout those aforementioned feel-good projects to media both national and local.”
The site noted a challenge for Buttigieg will be to prevent Republicans from criticizing the spending decisions “as tunnels for turtles, a series of giveaways to progressive groups for progressive imperatives.”
In 2007, then-Congressman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) criticized a $318,000 expenditure to build a four-foot fence along a western Michigan causeway to block turtles from crossing the busy road, Fox News reported.
Hoesktra questioned by the project, paid for with federal Transportation Department funds, and why one was not selected that was “more related to the movement of people and products.”
In December 2020, environmentalists complained an expansive $1.36 billion Loop 1604 interstate project would harm a nearby aquifer recharge zone in Texas.
TexPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group deemed the project “one of the six biggest highway boondoggles in the U.S.,” according to San Antonio Current.
“The secretary believes that no matter where you live and what your politics are, the American people will benefit from an investment in infrastructure that is focused on jobs, climate, and equity,” a Buttigieg spokesman told Yahoo News.
“And he will work with the White House to deliver that message directly to the American people.”