CNN White House correspondent and new weekend host Jim Acosta voiced support for President Joe Biden’s massively expensive infrastructure proposal so he could take a high-speed train between New York City and Washington, D.C., that has Wi-Fi.
During an appearance on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” host Brian Stelter, along with Acosta and New York Times White House correspondent Annie Karni, first talked about Biden’s estimated $2.3 trillion plan in terms of how it is being portrayed in the media.
Karni noted that coverage of the plan should be balanced between its ambitious size and scope and the fact that no Republicans are expected to support it, which will make it difficult to pass.
“Comparisons to LBJ and FDR, yes, in scope, maybe it’s fair,” Karni said. “In reality…how do we talk about this when we don’t know if it’s a reality yet.”
“Check back in a year,” Stelter interjected.
Karni added that it’s unclear at this point which projects will even be funded since Congress hasn’t passed anything yet.
Stelter then put up two headlines — one from the New York Times and another from the Washington Post — in which both papers took a different angle and tone regarding Biden’s plan, before bringing Acosta in.
“I think that’s a good thing,” he said. “I don’t think we should all be covering it the same way. As Annie was saying, there’s a lot to be covered in this Biden infrastructure plan.”
After saying that covering “infrastructure week” during the Trump administration became “a joke,” Acosta added: “As far as I’m concerned, could we just have a damn high-speed train in this country? I mean, can I please get from New York to Washington without problems on the Acela? And can I get on the Wi-Fi, by the way, when I ride the train and have that not be a problem?”
The CNN correspondent and host went on to recount how the U.S. “has major infrastructure problems,” adding that parts of the country still don’t have adequate access to the internet and that America’s “airports, our roads, our bridges are nowhere near what they are in other parts of the world.”
Republicans have argued that the vast majority of spending in Biden’s plan will not actually go towards traditional infrastructure, which is one reason — along with the overall cost — they are hesitant to support it.
As for Acosta’s demand for high-speed rail along the Northeast Corridor, a 2019 analysis by a research team at George Mason University estimated that service on the caliber of French Alstom trains would cost about $164 million per mile to build, or about $37 billion just for one route at an annual operating cost of some $570 million.
In an interview Sunday with Fox News host Chris Wallace, retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) suggested that if Biden and Democrats would trim the cost of the bill by cutting out unrelated spending it would garner more GOP support.
“I think there’s an easy win here for the White House if they would take that win, which is make this an infrastructure package which is about 30% … of the $2.25 trillion they’re talking about spending,” he said.
Blunt pointed to line items such as $400 billion for elderly and disabled Americans, as well as hundreds of billions more for other unrelated expenditures.
“I think it’s a big mistake for the administration,” Blunt said. “And I also think it would be an easy victory if we go back and look at roads and bridges and ports and airports and maybe even underground water systems and broadband.
“You’d still be talking about less than 30 percent of this entire package, and it’s an easily doable 30 percent,” he added.