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The Lead with Jake Tapper

President Biden Announces Infrastructure Plan. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired March 31, 2021 - 16:30   ET



SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I believe the plan spends about $174 billion for -- to invest in electric vehicles, to try to have half-a-million charging station for electric cars in 10 years.

So, you really do see (AUDIO GAP) methodically thought through how -- how to take all pieces of classic infrastructure, roads, bridges, other projects, and really focus on the environmental impact of these projects now and into the future.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, we're going to squeeze in one more quick break, as we wait for President Biden to step to the lectern there.

We will be right back. Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're standing by for President Biden to speak in Pittsburgh. He's going to lay out his $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan. He's coming out right now.

Let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon, and welcome to Pennsylvania, Mr. President.

My name is Mike Fiore (ph). And I'm a senior line worker from Duquesne Light and a proud member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 29, right here in Pittsburgh.

From day one of this pandemic, me and my co-workers have been on the front lines. It's my job. There's no working from home. We have kept the lights on and the power running to communities throughout Western Pennsylvania.

Every day, I deal with our electrical grid, so I know how critical infrastructure is to our communities. That's why I'm so excited about Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan. Nearly everyone agrees that we need to modernize our roads, bridges, power grids, airports and railroads, that we need to invest in new energy technologies and American-made manufacturing. But what President Biden is proposing isn't just an investment in

infrastructure. It's an investment in good union jobs. It's an investment in good schools and strong communities.

It is an investment in the future of so many forgotten paths in America. My brother teaches at Pine-Richland High School in Gibsonia, just north of here, the same high school we both went to.

The kind of investment Joe Biden is talking about would mean so much to his school and to his students, both now and in the years to come. For example, President Biden proposes a massive expansion of high- speed broadband.

And that's critical to the health of so many small towns in this area. I have got two little kids at home myself, and I don't want to see them leave the area or even the state to find opportunities.

The Build Back Better plan is directed at communities like mine. It's about opening up opportunities, revitalizing local businesses and creating jobs.

For decades, Pennsylvania was a global leader in manufacturing and good union jobs. It can be that way again, as President Biden has a solid plan to make that happen.

I also don't want my kids growing up in a world where the threat of climate change hangs over their heads. That means investing in electrical vehicle charging infrastructures and all forms of clean power technology, so we can slash carbon emissions and create tens of thousands of green energy jobs, union jobs.

And that's exactly what President Biden is proposing.

Here's another reason I'm so excited about this. I'm 100 percent a union guy. It is in my blood. The union changed my life. And it gave me opportunities I could never have dreamed of. Being a line worker isn't always easy. But thanks to my union, I enjoy a great paycheck, strong health and retirement benefits and a voice on the job.

Here's who else is a union guy, Joe Biden. And he said again and again, unions built the middle class. That's why his plan supports collective bargaining rights, it supports a living wage, and making sure that taxpayer money goes to supporting American-made manufacturing.

The men and women of the IBEW are ready to get to work rebuilding our infrastructure, retooling our plants and revitalizing our communities and the middle class. We're ready to build America back better.

So, it is my pleasure and it is my honor to introduce the president of the United States, Joe Biden.




BIDEN: Thank you.

Gov, Mike asked me -- and I say to Bobby, my good friend -- he asked me back there, he said: "Do you ever get nervous? And I" -- he said: "Because I got up this morning and made breakfast for my kids. I got to introduce the president."

And, well, I say to you, Mike, you did a heck of a job. But I get would nervous right if I had to get up in the middle of the night, climb up a telephone pole, replace in the middle of a storm a connection that knocked out everybody's electricity, putting a transformer in. That's what would make me nervous.

So, what you did was really good. I couldn't do what you do, pal. I couldn't do what you do.

And I want to -- and it's true, Mike. You're a union guy. Me too. I got in trouble, but I don't make any apologies for it. I'm a union guy. I support unions. Unions built the middle class. And it's about time they start to get a piece of the action.


To all my colleagues...


BIDEN: ... from the county executive, to the mayor, to everyone that is here, I want to say thank you.

Thank you, Congressman, for the passport in your district. And I appreciate you being here.

I'm honored to be with you. Two years ago, I began my campaign here in Pittsburgh saying I was running to rebuild the backbone of America. And, today, I return as your president to lay out the vision of how I believe we do that, rebuild the backbone of America.

It's a vision not seen through the eyes of Wall Street or Washington, but through the eyes of hardworking people, like the people I grew up with, people like Mike and his union family, union workers, this Carpenters Training Center, people like the folks I grew up with in Scranton and Claymont, Delaware, people who get up every day, work hard, raise their family, pay their taxes, serve their country, and volunteer for their communities, and just looking for a little bit of breathing room, just a little bit of light.

Ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things, people who break their necks every day for their families and the country they love, a country that, in fact, which on the day I was elected was in extreme distress, with the virus on a deadly rampage that has now killed over 4,000 -- excuse me -- 500 -- I carry it in my pocket every day. I have the list of exactly how many have died -- 547,296 Americans dead from the virus, more than all the people killed in World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, 9/11, 547,296 Americans, and an economy that left millions out of work and created so much anxiety.

That's why I moved so quickly to pass the American Rescue Plan, with the help of my friends here in the Congress. I really mean that. It didn't pass by a whole lot, but, with the leadership of Conor and Bobby and the mayor, just -- you got it done, because it was an emergency.

We needed to act to save jobs, to save businesses, to save lives, and that's what we did. We're beginning to see the results. We're on our way to having given 200 million vaccination shots in the first 100 days of my presidency.

When I said I'd get 100 million done, people thought it was a significant exaggeration. We're going to get 200 million done, twice the original goal, because of all the help of all of you.

Leading economists are now predicting our economy will grow 6 percent this year. That's a rate we haven't seen in years and years. We can cut child poverty in half this year. With the American Rescue Plan, we're meeting immediate emergencies.

Now it's time to rebuild. Even before the crisis we're now facing, those at the very top in America were doing very well, which is fine. They were doing great. But everyone else was falling behind. The pandemic only made the divisions so much worse and more obvious.

Millions of Americans lost their jobs last year, while the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans saw their net worth increase by $4 trillion. It just goes to show you how distorted and unfair our economy has become. It wasn't always this way.

Well, it's time to change that. I know, parenthetically, that I got criticized for giving tax breaks to middle-class and poor folks this last time. I didn't hear that cry, hue and cry, when we were doing the same thing, when Trump's tax bill, and 83 percent of the money went to the top 1 percent.

You know, this is not to target those who have made it, not to seek retribution. This is about opening opportunities for everybody else.


And here's the truth: we all will do better when we all do well. It's time to build our economy from the bottom up and from the middle out, not the top down. It hasn't worked very well.

For the economy overall, it hadn't worked, because Wall Street didn't build this country. You, great middle class built this country, and unions built the middle class. And it's time --


This time, we'll rebuild the middle class. We're going to bring everybody along, regardless of your background, your color, your religion, (INAUDIBLE), everybody gets to come along. So, today, I'm proposing a plan for the nation that rewards work not

just rewards wealth. It builds a fair economy that gives everybody a chance to succeed, and it's going to create the strongest, most resilient innovative economy in the world.

It's not a plan that tinkers around the edges. It's a once in a generation investment in America, unlike anything we've seen or done since we built the interstate highway system and the space race decades ago. In fact, it's the largest American jobs investment since World War II.

It will create millions of jobs, good-paying jobs. It will grow the economy, make us more competitive around the world, promote our national security interests, and put us in a position to win the global competition with China in the upcoming years. It's big, yes. It's bold, yes, and we can get it done.

It has two parts, the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan. Both are essential to our economic future. And in a few weeks, I'll talk about the Americans family plan, but today I want to talk about the American Jobs Plan.

I'll begin with the heart of the planning. It modernizes transportation infrastructure. Our roads, our bridges, our airports, I just left your airport. The director of the airport said we're about to renovate the airport. Is that right, Mr. County Executive? We're going to (ph) -- we're going to employ thousands of people. And she looked at me and said, I can't thank you enough for this plan.

It grows the economy in key ways. It puts people to work to repair and upgrade that we badly need. It makes it easier and more efficient to move goods to get to work and to make us more competitive around the world.

Some of your local officials know when someone wants to come in the area and a company wants to invest, what do they ask? Where's the first rail bed? How can I get to the railroad? What access to the interstate do I have? What's the water like?

Tell me about it. It goes on and on. It's about infrastructure.

The American Jobs Plan will modernize 20,000 miles of highway, roads and main streets that are in difficult, difficult shape right now. It will fix the nation's ten most economically significant bridges in America that require replacement.

Remember that bridge that went down? We've got ten most economically significant bridges with more commerce going across it that need to be replaced.

We'll also repair 10,000 bridges, desperately needed upgrades to unclog traffic, keep people safe and connect our cities, towns and tribes across the country. The American Jobs Plan will build new rail cars and transit lines, easing congestion, cutting pollution, slashing commute times and opening up investment in communities that can be connected to the cities and cities to the outskirts, where a lot of jobs are these days. It will reduce the bottlenecks of commerce at our ports and our airports.

The American Jobs Plan will lead to a transformational progress in order to tackle climate change with American jobs and American ingenuity, protect our community from billions of dollars of damage from historic superstorms, floods, wildfires, droughts, year after year, by making our infrastructure more secure and resilient and seizing incredible opportunities for American workers and American farmers in a clean energy future.


Skilled workers like one we just heard from building the nationwide network of 500,000 charging station, creating good-paying jobs by leading the world in the manufacturing and the export of clean electric cars and trucks. We're going to provide tax incentives and point of sale rebates to help all American families afford clean vehicles of the future. The federal government owns an enormous fleet of vehicle which are going to be transitioned to clean electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles right here in the United States of America by American workers with American products.

When we make all of these investments, we're going to make sure -- as the executive order I signed early on -- that we buy American. That means investing in American-based companies and American workers. Not a contract will go out that I control that will not go to a company that is an American company with American products all the way down the line and American workers.

Now, we'll buy the goods from all of America. Communities historically that have been left out of these investments, black, Latino, Asian American, Native American, rural, small businesses, entrepreneurs across the country.

Look, today, up to 10 million homes in America and more than 400,000 schools and child care centers have pipes that they get their water from, pipes that are lead-based pipes, including pipes for drinking water. According to scientists, there is simply no safe exposure to lead for a child. It can slow development (VIDEO GAP) and hearing problems.

American Jobs Plan will put plumbers and pipefitters to work, replacing 100 percent of the nation's lead pipes and service lines, so every American, every child can turn on a faucet or a fountain and drink clean water. With these $5,000 investment replacing a line that can mean up to $22,000 in health care costs saved, a chance to protect our children and help them learn and thrive.

We can't delay. We can't delay another minute. It's long past due.

You know, in America, where the early interest was in Internet, this thing called the Internet that we invested -- that we invented the early, the early Internet. It was invented here.

Millions of Americans though lack access to reliable high speed Internet, including more than 35 percent of rural America. It's a disparity even more pronounced during this pandemic. American jobs, we'll make sure that every single, every single American has access to high quality, affordable high speed Internet for businesses, for schools, and when I say affordable, I mean it. Americans pay too much for Internet service.

We're going to drive down the price for families who have service now and make it easier for families who don't have affordable service to be able to get it now. As you saw in Texas and elsewhere, our electrical power and power grids are vulnerable to storms, catastrophic failures and security lapses with tragic results.

My American Jobs Plan will put hundreds of thousand of people to work, hundreds of thousands of people to work -- line workers, electricians, laborers -- laying thousand of miles of transmission line, building a modern resilient and fully clean grid, and capping hundreds of thousands of oil (ph) -- literally orphan oil and gas wells that need to be cleaned up because they are abandoned, paying the same exact rate to a union man or woman would get having dug that well in the first place. We'll build, upgrade and weatherize affordable, energy- efficient housing in commercial buildings for millions of Americans.

Even before the pandemic, millions of working families faced enormous financial and personal strain trying to raise their kids and care for their parents at the same time, the so-called "sandwich generation" or family members with disability.


Got a child at home. You can't stay home from work to take care of that child unless you lose your -- either the child is at risk or you lose your job. Or have an elderly parent that you're taking care of. And seniors and people with disabilities living independently feel that strain as well, but we know if they can remain independently living, they live longer.

American Jobs Plan is going to help in big ways. It's going to extend access to quality affordable home community-based care. Think of expanded vital services like programs for seniors or think of home care workers going into homes of seniors and people with disabilities cooking meals, helping them get around their homes and helping them be able to live more independently.

For too long, caregivers who were disproportionately women and women of color and immigrants (VIDEO GAP)

This plan along with the American Families Plan changes that with better wages, benefits and opportunities for millions of people who will able to get to work in an economy that works for them.

You know, decades ago, the United States government used to spend 2 percent of its GDP, its gross domestic product, on research and development. Today, we spend less than 1 percent. I think it's 0.7 of 1 percent.

Here's why that matters. We're one of only a few major economies in the world who public investment and research and development has a share of GDP has declined constantly over the last 25 years, and we've fallen back. The rest world is closing in and closing in fast. We can't allow this to continue.

American Jobs Plan is the biggest increase in our federal non-defense research and development spending on record. It's going to boost America's innovative edge in markets where global leadership is up for grabs, markets like battery technology, biotechnology, computer chips, clean energy, and competition with China in particular.

Critics say we shouldn't spend this money. They ask, what do we get out of it? Well, they said the same thing when we first flew into space for the first time. They said the same thing.

Well, pushing the frontiers led to big benefits back home. When NASA created Apollo's digital flight control system, unheard of at the time, it led to technologies that help us today to drive our cars and fly our planes. When NASA invented ways to keep food safe for the astronauts, it led to programs that had been used for decades to keep foods safe in supermarkets.

At least 2,000 products and services have been and commercialized as a result of American space exploration. GPS has helped us find each other. Computer chips allow us to see and talk to one another, even when we're separated by mountains and oceans, singing happy birthday and watching the first steps that have new baby grandchild, comforting each other when comfort is needed.

Think about what it means to you and your loved ones. We just have to imagine again.

I had a long discussion with Xi Jinping, the leader of China, when he called to congratulate me. We spent two hours on the phone. And he said he was astonished by the NASA security team and the China experts were on the line. He said you've always said, Mr. President, that you can define America in one word, possibilities.

That's who we are. In America, anything is possible, like what we did with the vaccines a decade ago that laid the foundation for COVID-19 vaccines we had today, like we did when interstate highway system that transformed the way we traveled, lived, worked and developed. Americans could visit relatives anywhere in the country with just a family station wagon. Businesses here in Pittsburgh could load up a truck and get a product to Portland or Phoenix.

To this day, about quarter of all the miles Americans drive each year on one of those very original highways, imagine what we can do, what's within our reach if we modernize those highways.

You and your family can travel coast to coast without a single tank of gas onboard a high speed train, and connect high speed, affordable, reliable Internet wherever you live. Imagine knowing that you're handing your children and grandchildren a country that will lead the world in producing clean energy.