CNBC host Joe Kernan questioned Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about the Biden administration's definition of "infrastructure," in light of bipartisan talks on a potential spending bill
JOE KERNEN, CNBC: You ever hear the expression all politics are local? So, you're the Transportation Secretary now. We're proposing a usage for the word infrastructure that Republicans would say includes every wishlist for the Democratic Party going back 50 years. Now, as the Transportation Secretary, do you just wish we look directly at what your domain is -- roads, bridges, airports. Throw in some internet and wi-fi. Let's do $7-800 billion with the Republicans, get it done, give me my infrastructure for transportation and do not try to do everything at once.
Tell me you believe that, but I know you won't.
TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG: As the org chart goes, I'm the roads and bridges guy. The transportation part is the piece that I work on.
But when I think about why roads and bridges matter, the fundamental reason they matter is they make it possible for Americans to live lives of their choosing. Whether there is a good road to where you're going is going to determine whether you can go to school, go to work, see your family.
I think the same thing is also true of the other, broader forms of infrastructure that we're talking about. They're all part of the foundation that makes it possible for us to live well. I don't want to get bogged down in a semantic or philosophical argument of what to call something if it is a good policy. These are things the American people want.
KERNEN: Mr. Secretary, you might as well tell me, you know, you need those roads to drive to free college and free child care and therefore I want to build them, so I mean, come on. Come on.
BUTTIGIEG: Well, no.
KERNEN: You can't --
BUTTIGIEG: All of this together --
KERNEN: You can't do all of it at once.
BUTTIGIEG: You can do it on the org chart of the federal government or you can organize it around what the lives of the human beings in this country are like.
KERNEN: You can make that jump to everything under the sun is infrastructure and we should spend $100 trillion and give everything to everyone because that's what their life is. You can't do -- we don't have the money. We don't have the wherewithal.
BUTTIGIEG: We do have the money, that's the thing. We abundantly do have the money because the bill is paid for, right?