A White House official said the Biden administration plans to provide around $13 billion in aid to households to lower energy costs, prompting critics to denounce the measure as an “election year gimmick” and that the real fix would be to adopt policies that boost domestic energy production.
Vice President Kamala Harris plans to announce the newest initiative while visiting a union hall and training facility in Boston later on Nov. 2, an administration official told reporters during a call on Tuesday.
The initiative includes $4.5 billion in new resources under the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help lower heating costs for families this winter, according to a White House fact sheet. Part of the funds will be for covering heating costs and some will be for making home energy repairs to lower heating and cooling bills.
Another $9 billion in new rebate program funding will come from the Inflation Reduction Act. The money will be used for upgrading homes to lower energy bills, including by installing half a million heat pumps and retrofitting homes with better insulation.
The White House billed the initiative, which also includes $250 million to boost heat pump manufacturing in the United States, as a way to lower energy bills, reduce pollution, and “help tackle climate change.”
‘Election Year Gimmick’
Proponents of the new initiative said the measures would lower energy bills for American families, while opponents have criticized them as increasing government dependency and trying to buy votes ahead of the midterms.
“Reduce energy supply to make people dependent on the government—got it,” Tom Borelli, former business executive and Newsmax contributor, said in a statement on social media, commenting on reports about the Biden administration’s newest spending plans.
David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA), told the Daily Mail that the Biden administration has gotten it “completely wrong” on how to go about lowering energy costs.
“Instead of spending taxpayer money to bring down energy costs, they should be encouraging more energy development, which costs taxpayers nothing and spurs more economic growth,” he said.
Williams called the move an “election year gimmick that quite frankly didn’t have to happen if the administration wasn’t so hostile to American energy development.”
Echoing Williams’s view that the measure is a ploy to win over voters ahead of the midterm election was Will Hild, executive director of Consumers’ Research, who in remarks to the Daily Mail called it a “short-term gimmick” meant to “distract from the myriad ways their policies are increasing costs for consumers from the gas pump to the grocery store and everywhere in between.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
‘Taking Action to Lower Energy Costs’
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm praised the new initiative in a statement, saying it’s another way the Biden administration and the Department of Energy are “working together to cut costs for families and businesses.”
“It means states and tribes will have greater resources to meet people’s needs and move us even faster down the path to a net-zero emissions economy,” Granholm said.
Abdullah Hasan, the White House assistant press secretary, wrote in a post on Twitter commenting on the new initiative that the Biden administration is “taking action to lower energy costs” while alleging that congressional Republicans “want to increase them by repealing the Inflation Reduction Act.”
The White House has claimed that congressional Republicans have a five-part “mega, MAGA, trickle-down economic plan” that would raise costs and make inflation worse by such measures as extending Trump-era tax cuts and repealing Biden’s student debt relief handout.
“Democrats are building a better America for everyone, with an economy that grows from the bottom up,” President Joe Biden said at an event on Oct. 25. “Republicans are doubling down on their mega, MAGA, trickle-down economics that benefits the very wealthy.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) reacted to Biden’s “MAGA trickle down” economics comments by arguing it’s the president’s policies that are “crashing our economy.”
“I don’t think someone who’s, in less than two years, done so much damage to our economy has any credibility to talk about somebody else destroying the economy,” Rubio told the Washington Examiner in an interview.