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Biden's supply problem isn't just 'treadmills' anymore

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 5/15/2022 Washington Examiner
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It wasn't that long ago that former White House press secretary Jen Psaki was downplaying the nation's supply chain problems as "the tragedy of the treadmill."

Just as she dismissed the topic of inflation as something that only affects rich people, Psaki spoke of the broken supply chain as if only leisure purchases for the wealthy were at risk. But even as they put on a brave face, officials in the Biden administration were aware that the problem went much, much deeper. And they did nothing.

The administration's handling of completely predictable supply chain problems stemming from COVID-19 has been just as appalling as Psaki's earlier insouciance suggests. And this is how the current baby formula shortage was made possible.

Biden and Democrats don't have any answers to the current inflation crisis, nor the supply-chain crisis that is contributing to it. They spent this week fiddling about with legislation that would kill babies rather than feed them, which had no chance of passing anyway because a bipartisan majority of senators opposed it. For fear of seeming out-of-touch on the economic troubles that will decide the midterm elections, some Democrats have ridiculously attempted to connect to the problem of inflation — as if the nation could simply abort its way back to the rapid pre-Biden pace of recovery from COVID-19.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg remains as much of a nonentity on issues of transportation as he ever has been. The sum of his entire activity in office has been a sorry attempt to atone for his record on race relations in South Bend, Indiana, so that he has a prayer of winning a few black votes ahead of the 2028 presidential election.

So what's a hungry baby to do? At this moment, America's babies, at least, are out of luck — especially babies from low-income families, who are disproportionately likely to be formula-fed. The only babies Biden is helping to get formula right now are the ones brought into the United States illegally. The Biden administration has managed to find pallets of formula for immigration detainees in South Texas Border Patrol facilities at a time when nobody else can find the stuff in stores.

The immediate cause of the shortage appears to be a recall by one of the few companies that make formula, whose basis (an infection that four babies contracted around the time they drank the product) appears to have been unfounded in the first place. That the entire system could be brought to its knees by four coincidental infections is a testimony to just how fragile the supply chain has become. It only makes matters worse that the company in question, Abbott, will not be able to reopen its Michigan plant for two weeks nor to replenish diminished supplies for as long as two months.

The U.S. is the world's economic powerhouse. So why is it that shoppers in the Biden era keep running into barren shelves, such that they feel like they live in the old Soviet Union? This is not a failure of the free market — it is a failure of leadership in a White House so fixated on abortion, forcing men into women's private spaces, and investigating parents as terrorists for participating in local school board politics that it neglects the basics.

If Biden wants to do something practical to arrest the loss of confidence in his leadership, he can start by calling on his fellow Democrats in Congress to pass H.R. 7718 right away and start the process of allowing more imported formula that meets U.S. safety standards. On their current schedule, it could be weeks before they even consider the proposal — weeks that parents don't have. What won't help is what Biden is doing right now — effectively attempting to impose price controls that will make it easier to hoard and resell formula but harder to keep adequate supplies on the shelves.

Biden inherited a booming, rapidly recovering economy. He will be judged for what he did with that advantage.

 

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Tags: Opinion, Editorials, Washington D.C., DC, Joe Biden, White House, Family Issues, Child Care, Trade

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