There’s a supply-chain crisis, and President Joe Biden says he has answers for it. It’s just that they don’t work.
Take the much-ballyhooed announcement that major West Coast ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, would start operating 24/7, something Biden touted in a speech Oct. 13 as a potential “game-changer.”
“After weeks of negotiations and working with my team and with the major union retailers and freight movers, the Port of Los Angeles announced today that it’s going to begin operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Biden said at the White House, according to a transcript from Rev.com.
“By staying open seven days a week through the night and on the weekends, the Port of Los Angeles will open over 60 extra hours a week, will be open. In total, that will almost double the number of hours that the port is open for business from earlier this year,” he continued. “That means an increase in the hours for workers to be moving cargo off ships onto trucks and rail cars to get to their destination.”
The message was clear: Biden and the Democrats weren’t going to be the grinches that stole Christmas deliveries. They were doing all they could — and they’d brokered an agreement that would alleviate record bottlenecks at two of the country’s biggest ports.
Except, as NBC News‘ Lester Holt reported last week, “not much has changed” at the ports and they’re still at “crisis level.”
In the segment, Holt talked to a Los Angeles crane operator he said told him “workers who have been on the job throughout the pandemic stand ready to move cargo around the clock, but they’ve been given few orders to do so.”
“Union leaders are stressing dock workers are available 24/7, but it’s not up to them when they’re called to work,” Holt added.
“Is it frustrating to you that so much attention on the supply chain is coming here on the ports?” Holt asked the crane operator, identified as Frank Ponce de Leon, a union leader with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
“Yes, it is. This is not an L.A., Long Beach problem,” de Leon said. “This is greater than that. Other parts in the supply chain need to be in tune with working 24/7.”
Those parts of the supply chain are the trains and trucks bringing the goods out of port — and they’re dealing with problems, too.
For instance, a truck driver identified as Josue Alvarez told Holt he spends entire days waiting for goods to haul.
“Six to eight hours a day, waiting in line, sitting in line,” Alvarez said.
And then there’s the fact that warehouses are full, meaning drivers are parking their trucks on city streets.
But wait — Biden also says he has a solution to the trucking part of the shipping crisis. In a CNN town hall on Thursday (noteworthy for its weird moments), he said he was willing to deploy the National Guard to help ease bottlenecks.
“The answer is yes, if we can’t move — increase the number of truckers, which we’re in the process of doing,” Biden said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Bill Sullivan, executive vice president for advocacy with the American Trucking Associations, a trade group, pointed out the problem with that: If a National Guard member had a commercial driver’s license, he or she would likely already be driving commercially.
“And the freight network is private, so which company’s products would the National Guard haul?” Sullivan said in a statement, according to the Journal.
“While we understand why elected officials are looking at all possible authorities to help, deploying the Guard to haul freight isn’t feasible and would only further complicate the current situation.”
Even White House press secretary Jen Psaki threw cold water on that idea the next day, noting deployment would be up to governors at the state level.
“We’re not actively asking them to do that and we’re not actively pursuing the use of the National Guard on a federal level,” she said, according to The Hill.
In other words, this has all been a huge lie, an attempt to appear to be doing something even when that something wasn’t going to make a difference.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach could run 24/7, but they would need the other components of the supply chain to be running on the same schedule, as well. If not, the containers the dockworkers unloaded would merely pile up on the dock because there’s no transport system to move them.
As things always are with the president, this is part of a pattern.
The $3.5 trillion spending bill Biden wants on his desk? It’ll cost nothing because we’ll pay for it by taxing the rich.
The disastrous September jobs report, which even CNN said was “way less, way less than anybody expected … and the worst of the year”?
“Today’s report has the unemployment rate down to 4.8 percent, a significant improvement from when I took office and a sign that our recovery is moving forward even in the face of a COVID pandemic,” Biden told reporters, according to a White House transcript.
There’s always an easy answer from Joe Biden. Simple, optimistic — and wrong.
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