Sunday, July 21, 2024

Biden Admin Looks to Use ‘Infrastructure Week’ to Sell Its Successes

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The Biden administration is celebrating this year’s “Infrastructure Week” by sending officials including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and acting Labor Secretary Julie Su to various locations to promote the hundreds of billions of dollars being invested for roads and bridges, clean water and energy and high-speed internet access.

The White House says that $454 billion in bipartisan infrastructure law funding has been announced to date, and it released an updated map detailing the more than 56,000 projects that have been identified or started. The administration also issued state-by-state fact sheets laying out information and talking points for local pols.

The spending challenge: A Politico analysis published last week found that, of the $1.1 trillion provided for direct climate, energy and infrastructure investments under Biden’s four major legislative achievements, less than 17% has been spent as of April. These types of projects take time to vet and approve, and as Politico explained, “there can be a big gap between announcing a spending decision and actually distributing the money.”

The political challenge: A related Politico-Morning Consult poll released last week found that voters don’t know much about Biden’s four signature laws: the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act; the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, more commonly known as the bipartisan infrastructure law; the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022; and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. “Majorities of poll respondents said they haven’t seen, read or heard anything or much about three of Biden’s four major spending laws,” Politico’ Steven Shepard reported. And the one law that most people have heard about, the Inflation Reduction Act, just barely edged past 50% awareness, with 17% saying they had heard “a lot” about it, and 35% saying they’d heard “some” about it.

The poll also found that relatively few voters say they are seeing the benefits of Biden’s laws. Just 26% said that federal spending on infrastructure in their community has had a “major impact,” while another 26% said it had a “minor impact” and 30% said it had “no impact.”

As you might expect, there’s also a strong partisan divide over the Biden laws. Even though “Infrastructure Week” became a running joke under former President Donald Trump — and even though Biden has repeatedly sought to contrast his infrastructure successes with Trump’s failures on the issue — a large majority of Republicans (70%) and sizable portion of independents (34%) still give Trump more credit for promoting “infrastructure improvements and job creation.”

The bottom line: Biden and administration officials have said repeatedly that they have laid the groundwork for an infrastructure decade that will help Americans for many years to come, but their infrastructure messaging on the spending projects does not appear to have connected with voters thus far.

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