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The infrastructure bill is an ‘historic investment’: WH Council of Economic Advisers Member

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Heather Boushey, Member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the bipartisan infrastructure deal and what comes next.

Video Transcript

KRISTIN MYERS: I want to continue this conversation here now. We're joined by Heather Boushey, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisors. Heather, great to have you here with us. So let's just start with that infrastructure package, now that we are seeing some of that movement. Now it has been trimmed and scaled back, as we've gotten this sort of bipartisan package cobbled together.

I'm curious to know if you think that perhaps this deal now might be a little too little, if they might have trimmed a little bit too much. We've seen some criticisms from some of the more progressive members of the Democratic Party-- I'm thinking of AOC right now-- who have actually criticized some of these movements backwards in the package.

HEATHER BOUSHEY: Well, here's the thing. This is a historic investment in America's future, in our economy and infrastructure all across our economy. So I think this is a really exciting development. It is really wonderful to see this bipartisanship emerging out of the Senate on these issues that are so critical to American families, to American businesses. So it's an historic investment in transportation and transit. It's an historic investment in bridges.

We're going to make sure that we get the leaded pipes out of the water system going into people's homes all across the United States. That is absolutely incredibly important. There is no amount of lead in the water that is safe for children. So that is super important.

And we are making progress on some of the president's priorities in terms of climate and equity issues with the investments that will create electric vehicle charging stations all across the United States, and also this really important investment to clean up these superfund sites, the polluted sites across America which disproportionately affect low income communities next to them by-- which tend to be disproportionately communities of color. So there is a lot in here that is very important for families, for businesses, for our economy.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: You certainly did tick through a number of really important issues that need to be dealt with, Heather, and have needed to be dealt with for quite some time. But as Kristin said, this is a slimmed down version. We started out with an infrastructure bill that was $3.2 trillion. We now have one at around a trillion dollars. We still have to pay for it. Can you go through some of the ways that the Biden administration hopes to do that?

HEATHER BOUSHEY: Well, in terms of the paperwork, there's a few big ticket items. And one is now that we've had the American Rescue Plan out there for a while, there's just-- there are some places where there are monies that-- where the cost was overestimated. And so without, in any way, shape, or form, putting at risk our COVID attempts, the attempts to get the virus under control and the vaccine out and everything, there is additional money there that we'll be able to tap into as a part of this deal. So that is going to be some of the paperwork.

There's also going to be some corporate user fees. And then, of course, one of the things about this legislation is that it is going to boost economic growth. And so the Senate has agreed to allow that increase, that macroeconomic boost, and the increase in revenues that will come out of this boost to the economy to be counted as part of the paperwork.

So certainly, they have spent a lot of time working on that piece of the puzzle. But I think that this is a good package. And remember, it is part-- it is one part of the two-pronged approach that the president has been working on, so this historic and really important bipartisan deal, and, at the same time, working closely with Democrats on what's called the budget reconciliation, which has the other aspects of the Build Back Better agenda included there as well.

KRISTIN MYERS: So I want to ask about some other parts of the White House's agenda. And part of that is human infrastructure, really building that up, expanding some tax credits to help folks take care of children or aging and elderly parents. I'm curious to know if you are at all concerned that perhaps that human infrastructure package might really be left behind, as we move forward more on that physical infrastructure bill.

HEATHER BOUSHEY: Well, you know, I listen to the president talk about these issues all the time. And I have seen the incredible work that my colleagues all across the White House and the administration have been doing to make sure that we are both attentive to the physical infrastructure that's embedded in this bipartisan bill, as well as the human infrastructure pieces.

So the president has given speeches in recent days, where he's talked about the importance of investing in home health aides, making sure that families with a disabled loved one or an aging loved one have access to the home healthcare that they need so they can stay in their homes and have a qualified worker who's paid a living wage come and help them and care for them.

We've also heard the president continue to talk about the important issues around child care, universal pre-K, community college, school nutrition, as well as paid family medical leave. And, you know, this has always been a two-pronged approach. During the campaign, the president laid out in three separate speeches his broad Build Back Better agenda, focusing on supply chains, focusing on addressing climate and infrastructure and the human, the caring infrastructure pieces that are so necessary for our economy. And that continues to be the goal and the work that he's focused on each and every day.

KRISTIN MYERS: All right, we're going to have to leave that there. Heather Boushey, member of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, thanks so much for joining us.