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'Failure is not an option' when it comes to infrastructure bill: Rep. Debbie Dingell

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) talks House Democrats' new tax hikes to pay for the $3.5 trillion spending bill.

Video Transcript


ZACK GUZMAN: And welcome back in to Yahoo Finance Live. As we learn a little bit more about what the tax plan around that $3.5 trillion spending bill from President Biden and his push on infrastructure is going to look like, it seems like they're going to come in softer in terms of what President Biden initially pushed for, or at least, what Democrats were pushing for here to pay for all of it. The plan calling for top corporate and individual tax rates 26.5% and 39.6% respectively, a little bit weaker here than what Joe Biden initially hoped for, calling for a 28% corporate tax rate and 30.6% capital gains rate.

And here to discuss some of that with us and what it could look like as Democrats push to get that through the reconciliation process is Representative Debbie Dingell from Michigan, co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, as well as a member of Energy and Commerce Committee on Natural Resources. You got so many committees here, Representative Dingell, here. We could list them all. We can keep going.

DEBBIE DINGELL: We don't need to do that.

ZACK GUZMAN: But just-- [LAUGHS] I just want to start with your take, though, in terms of how it's all coming together as the sausage gets made to get everybody on board, as Democrats are going to need everyone working together to get it across the finish line. What's your take?

DEBBIE DINGELL: So, as you know, I'm a big person on Will Rogers who said people with weak stomachs shouldn't watch sausage or laws being made. And I call this the sausage-making process right now. All of the different committees are meeting to consider their portions of it.

So when you were talking about the tax portion, that ways and means, ways and-- energy and commerce, which I'm on, is doing many of the energy provisions, the healthcare provisions, the roads, the bridges, the internet. We were in all night. We're probably going to be in again all night tonight, as we're trying to bring together a lot of different ideas and listen to everybody, including Republicans.

We will, by the 15th-- the Speaker has set the date of September 15-- bring all of the individual bills together. They will go to budget, be brought together, and then we're going to have to have some really hard, nitty gritty discussions about what's the amount of money that's going to go into this, what are the programs that are going to make it. And the one thing I'm going to tell you, failure is not an option because-- I don't care if you're a Republican or a Democrat-- our roads and bridges need to be fixed.

But COVID has showed how we've got a real internet broadband problem in this country. And urban areas and rural areas don't have access to it. My district alone, what happened in Louisiana and New Jersey and New York was terrible. We've had seven once-in-a-lifetime floods since June 26. We've got to get it done. So--


DEBBIE DINGELL: --I didn't say it was pretty. But we've got to get it done.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, the climate push has been pretty fascinating to watch here, too, in terms of what aspects of the Build Back Better plan are really focusing in on that. You and your colleagues here have been pushing for much more than that. You want $85 billion in terms of local funding there to really support charging infrastructures for EVs. Why do you think that that's necessary to go above and beyond there to add and allocate that much to really pushing, I guess, Americans in that direction towards EVs?

DEBBIE DINGELL: So the president stood in the White House-- I was there with him-- with the auto CEOs, I might add. I didn't-- the auto CEOs, the president of the UAW, the heads of the environmental. We know that carbon-- almost 30% of the carbon emissions in this country come from the transportation sector. So we got to reduce it. EVs are a way to do that. All of the companies and the present company-- not-- this isn't-- labor is a little more nervous about this. But you could get to have a target goal of 50% electric vehicle sales by the year 2030.

Well, you know what? People aren't going to buy those vehicles if they don't know that they've got a place that they can charge that vehicle. They want to know that there's going to be a battery that's going to have the range that they need to have and that they can have confidence in it. And by the way, I want those cars built right here-- and trucks-- built in the United States of America, not in China or any other foreign country. I'm very focused, as part of all this, bringing our supply chain back to this United States of America. It's a national security issue.

But if we're going to do that, that means we've got [INAUDIBLE]. Cars got to be affordable. We've got to do that, invest in that battery, make it here. And then we've got to build out an EV infrastructure charging system across the country.

ZACK GUZMAN: There was one interesting component, too, of the EVs that was proposed here by Dan Kildee. He was on the show last week, your colleague there in Michigan, looking at rebates for union-made EVs. Interesting to see Toyota come out and say that it was wrong to include that and called it blatantly biased in terms of, you know, factoring in and maybe favoring unionized labor. And they said that it doesn't really matter if you're going to be pushing for EVs. Why have that? What do you make of kind of the pushback that we're seeing from them?

DEBBIE DINGELL: It was done in the Ways and Means Committee. But I am going to tell you that I think we need to be supporting American jobs. I think for too long, our tax code actually rewarded people who were locating overseas and taking their jobs overseas. I think any US dollar spent needs to be used on supporting American jobs, incentivizing production here, bringing our supply chain here. I think that that's what it was designed to do. We'll see what's going to happen. I think that's one of the talks-- one of the subject matters that will be part of this sausage making. But I will not support any US dollar going to support a foreign job, period.

ZACK GUZMAN: Well, this pushback was more about American workers, too. It was just states that, you know, are outside-- you know, I guess, you know, there's some piece of it there being in Michigan, but states other where, Indiana Texas, Missouri, Toyota pointing to those states where they have un-unionized workers working on these, saying that it wasn't necessarily, you know, workers outside the US that would be targeted by this. It was just non-union workers.

DEBBIE DINGELL: I have-- Toyota's R&D is located in my district. I work with them. I support American jobs. I also want to make sure that the American worker's being paid a decent salary. You know, I am going to say, people forget that there are a lot of benefits that all of us have that we got because of unions, including that 40-hour workweek, vacations, holidays, sick pay, safe working places. So we'll see where this is going to go. But I want to make sure those dollars are spent toward supporting union workers that-- whose jobs are here in the United States of America, getting a good wage, and helping all of us.

ZACK GUZMAN: Lastly, Congresswoman, when we look at where some of the loftier goals have come in on this plan and in paying for it and kind of a push to raise taxes here, where do you see this going as it does-- you know, we've heard from maybe more moderates on the Senate side, Joe Manchin to name one, at least, to talking about maybe not wanting to see as much money spent. It's going to take all Democrat votes in the Senate to get this across the finish line. I mean, what do you make of kind of where you have landed as a party in the tax rates that are now being discussed?

DEBBIE DINGELL: You know, well, I don't know exactly where the tax rates are still going to come out Ways and Means's meeting. But the fact of the matter is, I think one of the things that has been bothering me about all of this process is that there are two senators who I have a great deal of respect for-- actually, our friend-- West Virginia and Arizona, two states, the 48 other states in this country. And Republicans and Democrats represent those states.

And those districts in every state have the right to have their voices heard, to be in the mix, their issues heard. You just talked to me about EVs. And the workers in my state care greatly about what's going to happen there. And right now, everybody's got a right to have their voices heard, to have the impact of their vote felt. And by the way, the margin's close. So everybody can make a difference.

So I think we'll see where this comes out in two weeks. I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We have-- our infrastructure is equal to that of any third world country, not something we should be proud of. We've got-- this is an opportunity for us to really dig in and to fix things that have been kicked down the can, kicked down the road too long, like getting lead out of water pipelines. I've got another city in Michigan that the kids are drinking lead in their water again.

We gotta address these issues. And this is the moment. The pandemic has been a horrific time, but it's also, it's a time for us all to come together and really address some of these really critical problems.

ZACK GUZMAN: I know just before we came on here, you were listening for when to jump off to go vote. I'll let you get to that. You got your job to do.


ZACK GUZMAN: But Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, appreciate you coming on here to chat with us today. Be well.