Pete Buttigieg touts Biden’s big government agenda at Harvard graduation

Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government tapped Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to deliver this year's commencement address.

Buttigieg advocated for Biden administration’s domestic agenda, including the $1.9 trillion 'America Rescue Plan.'

United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg delivered the graduation address at the commencement of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government on May 27.

Douglas Elmendorf, Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, announced Buttigieg’s role as commencement speaker in March, dubbing him “an impressive example for Kennedy School students of courageous and effective public service.”

Buttigieg lauded the drastic expansion of government handouts across the globe in response to COVID-19. “The United Kingdom swiftly acted to cover 80 percent of losses for self-employed and furloughed workers. Countries in Southeast Asia expanded benefits to underserved communities and in some cases supported non-citizens for the first time,” he said.

Likewise, Buttigieg praised massive expansions in federal relief programs under President Biden’s $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.”

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Buttigieg remarked that the American Rescue Plan, American Jobs Plan, and American Families Plan would individually constitute “a historic undertaking.” Collectively, however, they would comprise “the greatest investment in our country and people in generations.”

“Franklin Roosevelt offered America a New Deal — a term that owed something to his predecessor Teddy Roosevelt, who had put forward a Square Deal,” said Buttigieg. “Later, Harry Truman spoke of a Fair Deal. Today’s effort might be described as the Big Deal.”

In relation to his work in support of the American Jobs Plan, Buttigieg also noted purported changes in the “very definition” of infrastructure: “To some, expanding the definition of infrastructure is unwelcome, especially as we apply the concept to things like schools and housing and care.”

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Buttigieg also acknowledged that he “aroused some controversy recently when I mentioned that racism is physically built into much of America’s transportation infrastructure.”

“But it’s true,” he declared, “and certainly not an original insight on my part.”

In discussing the challenges of the twenty-first century, Buttigieg again casted racism as a significant obstacle: “It shouldn’t be easier to visualize a man returning safely from the moon than a Black man returning from work without any fear of mistreatment due to racism.” 

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