Apr 5, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Biden's 2024 goody bags: Laws pump billions into Republican and swing states

Biden's infrastructure and clean energy investments by state
Data: The White House; Note: Among projects with announced totals, excluding projects in tribes or their subdivisions, or projects that span multiple states; Map: Axios Visuals

President Biden's infrastructure and clean-energy bills are pumping some $250 billion into Republican and swing states, allowing Biden and his cabinet to regularly announce job-creating goodies in places that could help him win re-election.

Why it matters: For a president who's trailing Donald Trump in a half-dozen swing states he needs to win, the announcements — part of nearly a half-trillion dollars in projects that have been unveiled nationwide — give him a chance to win voters town-by-town, trip-by-trip.

  • So far the swing-state haul includes $10 billion in grants and investments in both Michigan and North Carolina — and a combined $46 billion in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada, Arizona and Georgia.
  • As of early March, the White House had announced some $478 billion worth of projects from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
  • That's only about half the funds available for direct investments, so expect more Air Force One (and Two) sorties to battleground states to tout more billion-dollar grants and loans.

Zoom in: In red states, the sheer number of investments will make Biden's clean-energy legislation — which passed Congress without any GOP
support — difficult to repeal even if he loses in November.

  • "I hate to acknowledge this, as a former governor of Michigan, but we know that all these battery investments are going to red states," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told Axios last week.
  • And as much as some Republicans have criticized Biden's economic programs, "those governors aren't going to want to see the investment — the Inflation Reduction Act — reversed," Granholm said.

Driving the news: On Thursday, Biden's administration unwrapped one of the biggest single grants in the IRA. It dispatched Vice President Kamala Harris to North Carolina, a state Biden's campaign thinks it can steal from former Trump in November.

  • In Charlotte, Harris revealed the eight recipients of $20 billion in grants from the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) under the clean-energy law.
  • Meanwhile, four members of his Biden's cabinet hit the road yesterday to trumpet his spending priorities. Granholm was in Georgia, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was in Texas and Labor Secretary Julie Su and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona were in Nevada.
  • In a 24-hour blitz through Michigan last week, Granholm announced a $1.52 billion loan guarantee to restart a nuclear facility and visited a Heinz-Kraft relish factory that received a $13 million grant.

The other side: Many Republicans despise the GGRF, calling it a "slush fund" for the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Some congressional Republicans have vowed to repeal parts of the IRA, but other elements of it — including subsidies for electric vehicles' batteries — are winning converts among some southern Republican governors.

Zoom out: The unprecedented public investments by the Biden's administration are part of the president's larger strategy to boost domestic manufacturing, bring supply chains closer to the mainland, and make America a world leader in green technology.

  • The plan is to leverage government grants and loans to attract even bigger investments from the private sector.
  • By the White House's tally, those incentives have led to $688 billion in private-sector commitments for clean-energy and infrastructure projects.

By the numbers: With the GGRF announcement, the Biden administration will have awarded some $60 billion out of $128 billion in the grants, loans and rebates part of the IRA.

  • That means Biden's team still has more than half of that pot to hand out — and promote on the campaign trail.
  • An even bigger portion of the IRA is allocated for tax credits for consumers and green energy producers and manufacturers.
  • The strong demand for tax credits for corporations and consumers has driven up the bill's price tag. The Congressional Budget office revised its initial $370 billion estimate in 2022 to $659 billion in late 2023. Some private forecasts are even higher.

What we're watching: Biden is starting to dole out grants and loans from his third signature bill — the Chips and Science Act — which includes $39 billion in grants, plus loans and loan guarantees valued at $75 billion.

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