When it comes to the beneficiaries of President Biden’s infrastructure proposal, the Weatherization Assistance Program ranks among the big winners. The White House touted it as part of its $213 billion effort to build, preserve and retrofit homes, predicting it will “put union building trade workers to work upgrading homes and businesses to save families money.”

There’s just one problem: Independent analyses suggest that the program — which got its last big boost under the 2009 stimulus bill — isn’t a cost-efficient climate strategy. “As a pure carbon fighting policy, it looks expensive and low bang for the buck,” said University of Chicago professor Michael Greenstone, who studied efficiency efforts after leaving the Obama White House.

The weatherization plan is one of several embedded in Biden’s infrastructure proposal that reflect how political pragmatism has shaped the new administration’s governing style. Rather than seek the perfect policy answer — an approach touted by the Obama administration — they are focused on solutions that can muster a broad base of support. The plan also includes funding electric vehicles without setting a timeline for when the nation will stop selling gas-powered cars and trucks, and funding highly subsidized inland waterways without spelling out how much industry will pay for new locks and dams.

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