News & Politics

Infant Formula Shortage Crisis Could End up Hurting Republicans If They Misplace Their Focus

AP Photo/Eric Gay

The current infant formula shortage is the result of many factors including an overzealous regulatory state, not enough competition, and supply snafus caused by the pandemic.

But it is most definitely not caused by sending a few pallets of infant formula to feed babies being detained with their mothers as illegal aliens, considering the massive amount of infant formula consumed in the U.S. and the comparatively small amount of formula sent to the border.

Like it or not the children of illegal aliens at the border are in our care. Should we also deny them water? Shelter? It’s inhuman to talk about denying babies food even during a shortage.

Not one single American baby is affected by sending the formula to the border. This is the wrong way to politicize this issue and gives the opposition an opening you can drive a truck through.

“‘Pro-Life’ Conservatives Are Mad the Government Isn’t Letting Migrant Infants Starve to Death” — Rolling Stone

“Republicans, the Party of Family Values, Suggest Migrant Babies Should Be Starved” — Mother Jones

“Republicans Don’t Think Undocumented Immigrant Babies Should Get Formula Over Americans” — BuzzFeed News

Other Republicans have the right idea. While Democrats are trying to blame “corporate America” for the shortages, some Republicans have tracked the issue back to the competence argument. The Biden administration knew — or should have known — that a crisis was brewing as far back as February when Abbott closed its manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Mich. The plant not only made about 40% of the infant formula available in the U.S., but they also made most of the specialty formulas that some babies depend on to survive.

Not only that, but the administration has been inexplicably slow in reopening the plant and getting production rolling again.

Until the baby formula shortage became a major national issue, there was no sense of urgency in the administration’s response. Indeed, it wasn’t a crisis until the media woke up to families driving hundreds of miles looking for formula.

Politico:

“Bare Shelves Biden needs to STOP passing the buck and address his baby formula shortage,” tweeted House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik. “American families are once again suffering because of him.”

The shortage issue fits into the broader political debate over rising prices in the U.S., as the right tries to push Biden’s approval numbers even lower ahead of the midterms.

“Record-high inflation, skyrocketing gas prices, and a baby formula shortage,” tweeted Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) this week. “American families deserve better.”

The Democrats are trying to gloss over the crisis with smoke and mirrors. Democrats in the House will consider a supplemental appropriations bill “to immediately address the infant formula shortage.”

As if appropriating money for products that don’t even exist is helping.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a letter to congressional Democrats, said the shortage was “unconscionable and tragic.” Unlike other Democrats, Pelosi made no effort in the letter to credit the Biden administration for continuing to work with the FDA while taking other steps to resolve the shortage, but said House Democrats would take several steps to try to help resolve the issue.

Pelosi said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who chairs the Appropriations Committee, is planning to bring an emergency supplemental spending bill to the House floor “to immediately address the infant formula shortage.” DeLauro and other committee leaders are planning congressional hearings on the matter. Democrats will also work on legislation to “grant emergency authority to the WIC program to address supply chain disruptions and recalls,” Pelosi said, referring to the federal nutrition program for low-income women, infants and children.

The administration’s belated and panicked response to this crisis should be the GOP attack line going forward. As long as some of them don’t get distracted in their zeal to deny illegal babies in our care a meal, it should be a winning issue for the GOP.