Buttigieg backs Biden’s record $6 trillion budget as ‘responsible,’ while selling tax increase

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, whose most formidable policy experience prior to his current position was as mayor of South Bend, Ind., came out in support of President Joe Biden’s massive $6 trillion budget proposal introduced by the White House on Friday.

In an interview with “Fox News Sunday” fill-in host Shannon Bream, despite widespread bipartisan criticism of the spending plan, Buttigieg described it as “responsible.”

Bream asked the Transportation secretary to respond to comments from Lawrence Summers, the director of the National Economic Council under President Barack Obama, who has recently warned that some of Biden’s policies are creating inflation.

“This is a responsible budget and importantly all of the proposals for spending and investment in this budget are paid for,” Buttigieg claimed.

“We know that we need to make major investments in our roads and bridges and our education, in our health,” he went on. “We can’t afford not to do these things because for decades, frankly, we’ve been disinvesting, we’ve been cutting in the things that make America strong.”

The Fox News host asked Buttigieg about several additions to Biden’s infrastructure plan including elderly care, health care, and home repair, all of which were “laudable goals,” Bream said, but which did not fall within the traditional definition and parameters of infrastructure.

“Okay, if you have a different category you’d like to put it in, that’s fine, we should still do it and we should do it as part of the American Jobs Plan,” Buttigieg said in response. “We think of it as infrastructure because infrastructure is the foundation that lets people participate in the economy.”

Biden’s plan earmarks $2.3 trillion for the American Jobs Plan, according to the proposal, but there are bipartisan fears it will push the national debt — already nearing $28 trillion — into the stratosphere.

But the former South Bend mayor used a familiar Democratic talking point in explaining that proposed tax hikes on U.S. corporations and top earners that are called for in the budget plan would pay for the increased spending.

“Let’s make sure that corporations and the wealthy are paying their fair share, and we believe that’s going to raise the kind of revenue that we need in order to fund the proposals that the President’s put forward,” Buttigieg said.

“Again, you look at something like the American Jobs Plan, the infrastructure vision that the President put out, the entire thing is paid for across 15 years. By year 16, deficits going down and he does it without asking one penny from the middle class,” he added.

In fact — and it has been this way for decades — the richest American households pay the vast majority of income taxes, which did not change under former President Donald Trump’s tax reforms and reductions.

In 2018, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the top 20 percent with an income of $150,000 or more per household made up roughly 52 percent of all income that year. However, they paid about 87 percent of all income taxes, up from 84 percent the previous year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In contrast, the lower 60 percent of households with an income of about $86,000 — 27 percent of all income — paid no net federal income tax in 2018 versus about 2 percent of income taxes the previous year, the WSJ reported.

The Tax Policy Center also took a look at the tax burden fur the very wealthiest U.S. households.

“Roughly one million households in the top 1% will pay for 43% of income tax, up from 38% in 2017. These filers earn above about $730,000,” the WSJ reported.

Jon Dougherty

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