WASHINGTON — Boiling down the concerns of millions of Americans about shortages of everything from consumer goods to food to holiday gifts from a supply chain crisis to its minimum effect, a White House official insisted Monday that the biggest impact will be a lack of choice.
Concerns have been raised by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and businesses about the massive supply chain disruptions as the holiday season quickly approaches, with some experts suggesting consumers start shopping early due delays and lack of inventory.
But during a call with governors’ representatives on Monday, Liz Reynolds, special assistant to the president for manufacturing and economic development, told the gubernatorial staffers, “You won’t be able to get the jacket in 15 colors, but you will be able to get the jacket,” a source on the National Governors Association call told The Post.
The White House recently said it is working to reduce delays, with the Port of Los Angeles, UPS, FedEx and Walmart having committed to working 24 hours a day in hopes of alleviating the problem as much as possible ahead of Christmas.
The minimizing of the concern by the Biden administration official follows on the heels of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg — who has come under fire for taking paternity leave during the supply-chain breakdown without tapping a deputy to take over for him — claiming on Sunday that the reason for the barren store shelves is due to high consumer demand.
“Part of what’s happening isn’t just the supply side, it’s the demand side,” Buttigieg said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “Demand is off the charts, retail sales are through the roof. … Demand is up because income is up, because the president has successfully guided this economy out of the terrifying recession.”
Republican lawmakers have slammed the Biden administration’s handling of the problem, arguing it should have done more in advance to prevent the supply chain bottlenecks.
“Secretary Buttigieg really believes that if people just stopped demanding things, the supply chain issues would go away? Looks like gas for your car and Christmas gifts for your children are too much to ask. This isn’t Cuba or the Soviet Union. Empty shelves are un-American,” Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) tweeted.
Others stressed that the problem stems beyond holiday gifts, posing larger issues for the country.
“The sheer fact that we’re still having supply chain issues right now, a year and a half in[to the pandemic] is a complete abysmal failure of the Biden administration to try to address these issues,” Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) told The Post in an interview last week.
“If the ports weren’t going to be open 24 hours until the administration told them to today, why didn’t they put a plan together to put the military in? Military knows how to run logistics. We could have had Scott Air Force Base and TRANSCOM that ships military supplies at a moment’s notice across the globe, figure out a way to get ships unloaded in the port of Long Beach.”
Davis — who is slated to introduce a bill aimed at incentivizing companies to relocate to industrial parks set up by USDA Rural Development and the Department of Commerce through the Economic Development Administration in rural areas to produce critical products domestically — said hopeful the commitment from companies like FedEx, UPS and Walmart to work 24/7 ahead of the holidays will help mitigate the crisis.
“It’s about time they wanted to turn to the private sector to fix their problems, of course it’s going to work because those companies make logistics work in this country,” he said. “But long term, we’ve got to invest in public private partnerships where our workforce is after we identify what causes some of the supply chain issues so that we don’t have to worry about imports as much because we’re making these products in the United States of America.”
The White House did not immediately respond to request for comment.
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