Joy Reid challenges Buttigieg on Biden’s ‘white guy employment’ infrastructure bill

·3 min read

Reid said the bill will create jobs in sectors largely the domain of white men without college degrees — who are usually Republicans.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed last year is President Joe Biden’s biggest bipartisan achievement. The $1 trillion deal will rebuild America’s roads, bridges and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice and invest in communities that have too often been left behind, according to a fact sheet from the White House.

However, MSNBC host Joy Reid challenged Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the bill Thursday, asserting on The ReidOut that many of the jobs it will create lie in sectors that are largely the domain of white men without college degrees — who are usually Republicans.

“TheReidOut” host Joy Reid (left) grilled Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (right) Thursday about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed last year. (Photos: Screenshots/YouTube.com)
“TheReidOut” host Joy Reid (left) grilled Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg (right) Thursday about the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed last year. (Photos: Screenshots/YouTube.com)

Reid noted that the Build Back Better Act, which did not pass Congress, would have provided more benefits to women and communities of color with child-care protections, paid family leave and child tax credits.

“Do you think it was a mistake, looking back? Because the infrastructure bill that was passed was cleaved apart from what’s now being called Build Back Better,” Reid asked Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. “And in a sense, it’s a bill that’s like a white guy employment act. Right? There is going to be a lot of working class men that are going to get employed by that bill. But that’s the very cohort that is much more likely to reward Republicans for that.”

“That’s who they vote for,” she continued. “Most working-class white guys vote Republican. Meanwhile, all the stuff for the women, for moms, for people who need childcare, for people of color, that’s going to affect climate. All the stuff that affect women and families and younger people — all that stuff got dropped.”

“Do you think it was a mistake,” she asked, “to split those bills?”

“No,” Buttigieg responded, “and I want to challenge the idea that this is a bill that only benefits one part of the population.”

“I get where you’re coming from, and what you’re saying,” said Buttigieg, “but, look, you look at something like the investment in transit, you know, it’s Americans of color, commuters of color, who are most likely to depend on that.”

Buttigieg acknowledged that while many of the jobs had largely been occupied by white men without college degrees, it didn’t have to stay that way. He said the Biden administration is “working with a lot of focus, at the direction of the president, to make sure that everything from the contracting opportunities for small business to the labor opportunity for workers — fixing the bridges and installing electric vehicle charging stations — are more likely to be workers of color, are more likely to be women.”

Buttigieg also said the administration is working to engage women to enter the trucking industry, which is currently experiencing a labor shortage.

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