President Joe Biden says he’s been addressing supply chain problems “since Day One,” but that’s consisted mainly of appointing task forces and holding summits. His latest bold “action” was to beg G-20 leaders to “help address global supply chain issues.”
The one concrete step Biden has taken was, he said, to get the Los Angeles ports to stay open 24/7, which he announced on Oct. 13. Biden said this has the “potential to be a gamechanger.” A White House fact sheet declared that it “will speed up shipments of goods throughout the country.”
Except, that’s not what’s happened.
In fact, things have gotten worse at those ports, not better, since Biden’s “game changer.”
On Oct. 10, three days before the president’s announcement, there were 60 container ships waiting offshore to get into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and 27 were at berths unloading or loading cargo, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.
This Tuesday, there were 77 container ships waiting, while 25 were berthed.
In other words, the number of container ships waiting in line has increased 28% since Biden bragged about his action to “speed up shipments.” And two fewer were loading or unloading cargo than a month ago.
Setting up task forces and convening a bunch of “world leaders” to flap their gums about the need to work together might count as action to a guy who’s been a politician for 48 years, but it isn’t going to change the situation in Los Angeles.
The truth is that Biden doesn’t seem to have any idea how to deal with this problem, other than blaming the private sector, most likely because his own policies are at least partly responsible.
Critics of the $1.9 trillion partisan “rescue plan” Biden signed in March said that it contained too many disincentives for workers to rejoin the labor market. Lo and behold, there are chronic shortages of workers, particularly truckers, which is contributing to supply chain problems across the country. Biden’s vaccine mandate will only make worker shortages worse.
There’s also the fact that, as Heritage Foundation research fellow Elizabeth Hanke notes, “union contracts and labor practices play a large and detrimental role in the nation’s supply-chain problem.” She notes that “when the two (Los Angeles) ports are actually working, their productivity is astonishingly slow compared to ports in China.”
Does anyone think that Biden would be willing to take on his union pals to speed up shipments?
As a matter of fact, Democrats are trying to protect these unions from efforts to increase productivity. The spending plan they are trying to ram through contains no funding for productivity enhancements at ports, and “expressly prohibits the use of these funds for the purchase of fully automated cargo-handling equipment that is desperately needed to boost port efficiency,” Hanke says.
Then there’s this: Biden has apparently not bothered to work with the Republican governors in Texas and Florida to leverage their ports to relieve bottlenecks in Los Angeles, leaving it to Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis to talk them up.
Texas governor Abbott recently tweeted “Texas ports are open & ready to help fix America’s supply chain backlog. We can get goods out faster & at a lower cost than California due to our centralized location. Choose Texas.” Florida’s DeSantis in mid-October said that “We’re here. We have capacity,” referring to the state’s 15 ports.
Why isn’t Biden saying this? Has he even talked to these governors? There’s no indication he has, as far as we can find, possibly because Biden’s too busy attacking Abbott and DeSantis for not bending the knee to his COVID mandates.
This inaction left has left some officials scratching their heads.
As Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis put it, “I don’t know why the president doesn’t just flex some muscles, offer up some other ports to do the jobs, and not take a chance of ruining Christmas.”
We don’t either. Maybe some brave reporter will one day ask Biden why.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board