President Biden is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act, a key piece of his economic agenda.
The sweeping bill, originally dubbed the "Build Back Better" bill, was a cornerstone of his presidential campaign. It aimed to boost manufacturing, jobs and investments in clean energy, and further progress in reaching climate goals, while bringing down health care and energy costs, in part through tax incentives. The White House said it's the largest investment in clean energy and climate action.
President Biden will mark the anniversary at the White House. He is expected to highlight progress in reaching climate goals, protections from climate change and lower energy and health care costs in remarks.
"When I think climate, I think jobs. That's the future," President Biden said in Milwaukee Tuesday.
This week President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and members of his cabinet fanned out across the country to tout investments.
In Wisconsin, the president said his economic plan was working.
"According to Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, my plan is leading to a boom, they call a boom in manufacturing and manufacturing investment," President Biden said. "As you're seeing right here at this factory, over 13.4 million new jobs, 100 and 50,000 new jobs in the state of Wisconsin. Nearly 800,000 new manufacturing jobs nationwide."
Although inflation is lower than it was a year ago, economists said it's not clear the IRA is responsible.
"It's really difficult to say whether the Inflation Reduction Act actually contributed to the reduction we've seen in inflation," said Victor Claar, an economics professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. "And it's because we live in a dynamic economy and lots of things have changed over the last 12 months."
Claar and other economists credit lower gas prices and the Federal Reserve increasing interest rates with helping to tackle record high inflation. They also point to the untangling of supply chains after the COVID-19 pandemic.
That's one area where the White House says the IRA has helped lower inflation.
"As the supply chains have gotten back to normal, goods inflation has tracked them pretty closely one to one, come way down," said Jared Bernstein, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. "So, it's one of the reasons why inflation is much improved because of the unsnarling of supply chains. It's a reminder of the importance of those investments."
However, President Biden has admitted he wished he'd called it something else.
"I wish I hadn't called it that, because it has less to do with reducing inflation than it does to do with dealing with providing for alternatives that generate economic growth," he told the audience at a fundraiser in Utah last week.
White House officials said there has been more than $110 billion in private sector investments in clean energy manufacturing since the bill was signed and point to outside estimates of the creation of 170,000 jobs through investments in clean energy.
The White House says since the bill's signing there has been $10 billion in investments in the solar industry, $64 billion in battery supply chain and $70 billion in the electric vehicle supply chain.
The Department of Energy estimates the IRA will save families up to $38 billion on electricity bills by 2030 and with the infrastructure law reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by up to 41% by 2030. The administration says electric vehicle sales have tripled under the Biden administration and expects electricity from wind to triple and solar generation to increase seven- to eight-fold by 2030.
Officials say more economic growth will come as other projects spurred by the law get underway.
"What's most exciting, I have to say, is this is just getting started," said Department of Energy Deputy Secretary David Turk. "This is just the year end on the Inflation Reduction Act and we'll see more and more of those real-world impacts going forward."
But with all the hype in Washington, it seems the White House's message isn't completely resonating with voters.
A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll out last week found more than 70% of Americans have heard "little" or "nothing at all" about the legislation. Yet most respondents said they support specific provisions in the law, like expanded tax credits to install solar panels and heat pumps.
Asked about the disconnect, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients told reporters at a summit that as with any major legislation, there is a lag effect.
"I think we just have to make it real and tell the story because historic legislation is fantastic but it's conceptual," he said. "Here, this is changing people's lives and that's why we need to be on the ground and be comfortable being repetitive about how this is making people's lives better."
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