The only thing more laughable than Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s claim that spending two months on paternity leave counts as “work” is that the massive infrastructure bill in Congress would do anything to fix the supply chain crisis.
When asked on CNBC why the administration waited so long to take action, Buttigieg responded that “we’ve been working this issue from day one”.
Well, not exactly.
As Politico reported, Buttigieg was “mostly offline” starting in mid-August, and only went on a media blitz after Politico disclosed the fact that he’d been on an unannounced leave.
It’s true that Biden issued a supply chain executive order in early February, saying that “we’re not going to wait for a review to be completed before we start closing the existing gaps.”
In June, Biden announced the creation of a new Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force with Buttigieg one of the key members. The next month, Buttigieg said, he’d “convened the entire ecosystem of supply chain actors.”
Press Secretary Jen Psaki, in an attempt to defend the administration’s response, told reporters that “we’ve not only been talking about this since January, we’ve been working to put in place a range of steps to help address the challenges in the supply chains.”
In August, just as Buttigieg was clearing out for the next two months, Vice President Kamala Harris was warning that “if you want to have Christmas toys for your children, it might be the time to start buying them because the delay may be many, many months.”
So Buttigieg’s absence during this was inexcusable. And other than acknowledging that the supply chain crisis existed, it’s hard to see what “work” anyone in the Biden administration was actually doing.
It’s possible, in fact, that Biden’s vague executive order contributed to supply chain problems. Jennifer Bisceglie, CEO of Interos, a supply chain monitoring and modeling company, told FreightWaves that “what normally happens in these cases is a slowdown in terms of executing a business strategy, because companies don’t know if that strategy will shift or change depending on the impact” of such a review.
Biden’s “rescue” plan likely contributed as well by fueling worker shortages across the country. The disruptions caused by his vaccine mandate haven’t helped. Nor has the sharp rise in transportation costs thanks to Bidenflation.
The one concrete step the administration has taken – keeping the Port of Los Angeles open 24/7 – isn’t likely to be the “game changer” Biden thinks.
As Jennifer Van Laar explains in RedState, “simply expanding port hours wouldn’t get goods to market faster because unless distribution centers/warehouses are also open 24/7, truckers won’t want to pick up loads during off-hours.”
Worse, Biden is now blaming the private sector for the supply chain problems – telling businesses they need to “step up” – and promising more government intervention. “One of the reasons why I think it’s very important that we get the – the infrastructure plan passed – my infrastructure plan – and that’s the supply chain system is almost entirely in the hands of private business,” he said.
Buttigieg says that the crisis is an argument for “why we urgently need to pass the infrastructure vision that the president has laid out,” because “it includes $17 billion to support our ports, and we’re seeing just how important that part of our supply chain is.”
While that $17 billion might seem like a lot, consider the context. The bill Buttigieg is talking about carries a price tag of $550 billion in new spending over the next decade – so, we’re talking about 3% of that money going to ports. And only $9 billion of that would go toward modernization and construction, according to a breakdown by MarketWatch.
That’s well below the $25 billion American Society of Civil Engineers says is needed over the next decade to close what it calls the “funding gap” for ports and inland waterways.
By way of comparison, Biden’s infrastructure plan would dump $39 billion on public transportation, $15 billion to subsidize electric cars, $65 billion to subsidize broadband, and $21 billion on “environmental remediation.”
So, the idea that this will have any meaningful impact on supply chains now or in the future is fatuous.
All this causes us to wonder what would be happening today if we had someone with actual business experience making decisions in Washington.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board