If Joe Biden had been asked to create a scenario where he was 100 percent guaranteed to lose his re-election bid, the supply-chain crisis would top the list.
Even though it’s still nearly three years to Election Day, a ruined Christmas is the kind of catastrophe that the American people will never forget — or forgive.
It may not be entirely Joe Biden’s fault. This is, after all, a global economy, and what happens in many other nations impacts the U.S. in different ways. But Biden’s nameplate is on the door to the room at the White House that says “Boss.” He will be blamed because that’s the way the game has been played for more than 230 years and it’s pretty late in the game to pretend otherwise.
The steps Biden is taking to try and head off a complete political catastrophe are more for show than a genuine effort to mitigate the problem. Indeed, aside from jawboning, there isn’t much the president can do.
With just over 10 weeks until Christmas, the White House is leaning heavily on port operators, transportation companies and labor unions to work around the clock unloading ships and hauling cargo to warehouses around the country. Biden will meet virtually Wednesday with industry leaders before delivering a speech on the administration’s efforts to address the bottlenecks.
The supply-chain mess risks creating new economic and political turbulence for Biden in the coming months. Empty store shelves could undermine the administration’s economic recoveryplans and weigh on consumer confidence. And memories of a disappointing Christmas could linger into 2022, with supply-chain problems expected to last much longer than many officials and economists expected just a few months ago.
The “experts” are always “surprised” that a Democratic president is an incompetent fool. In fact, warnings about supply-chain problems have been sounded since early spring when it became clear that the vaccine was not going to be a magic bullet that would erase the pandemic.
And the real “experts” — retail business owners — are already saying there’s no hope.
“There’s no political intervention that’s going to get this done, and there may not be a human intervention that gets this done because this issue is now going to last well into next year,” said Steve Pasierb, the president and chief executive of the Toy Association.
To date, the Biden administration has put much of the onus on the private sector to fix the snarls, despite calls from some industry groups to marshal more federal resources. Senior administration officials say the government has limited oversight of ports and shipping companies. Instead, it has used its heft to convene players throughout the supply chain and put pressure on them to expand their operating hours.
“The supply chain is essentially in the hands of the private sector, so we need the private sector to step up to help solve these problems,” a senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday.
Biden’s big splash announcement that the Port of Los Angeles would remain open 24-7 is purely for PR purposes. The longshoremen are already complaining of labor shortages and exhausting hours. Who is going to unload the cargo?
Plus, it’s not just unloading ships more quickly that’s the problem. Warehouse space on the docks is in critically short supply, so there’s going to be no place to put the cargo. And even if there was, there’s a shortage of truckers to take the merchandise to its destination.
The supply chain is a finely honed machine that the pandemic has sabotaged. As efficient and brilliant as the market is in solving problems of supply and demand, so many aspects of the supply chain have failed that there’s no magic wand that government can wave to solve the problem.
Biden’s attempt to fix what’s wrong is likely just going to make things worse.