For Biden, who helped oversee the $900 billion economic stimulus bill President Barack Obama signed in 2009, this seems doable, and he will seek to merge the need for stimulus spending with the need for climate action — without taxing crude oil, carbon or gasoline, as previous presidents tried to do in vain.
Congress made an initial down payment late Monday, passing a stimulus bill that includes a package of energy measures, including new funding for renewable technology, research and development; aid to low-income families to install renewable energy sources in their homes; money for the Energy Department’s sustainable transportation program, the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, and nuclear energy.
It helps, said David G. Victor, a professor at the University of California at San Diego, that during the presidential campaign, Biden couched his plan as “an investment in infrastructure and investment in industries of the future.”
Marshaling political support will pose obstacles, especially if Republicans “rediscover that they care about fiscal probity,” Victor said. But the economywide ambition for climate change will mean benefits — and jobs — for virtually every congressional district, especially in the battleground states of the industrial Midwest.
Political support for federal assistance also could come from states that are struggling to balance their budgets as required by law. California this year spent $1 billion on firefighters and their equipment — $650 million over budget.
Pete Buttigieg, Biden’s nominee for transportation secretary, is ready to help. During his presidential campaign, he proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
Automakers are saying they’ll need federal financial help to speed up the development of electric vehicles. The government currently offers a $7,500-per-car tax credit to buyers of electric vehicles. But the tax credit vanishes once a manufacturer has sold 200,000 of the electric vehicles. Tesla and General Motors, for example, have used up their allowances. Other companies receive partial allowances for plug-in hybrids, depending on battery size. Biden said he would remove limits on the electric vehicle tax credit to further incentivize purchases.