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Sunday, July 14, 2024 - 02:06 AM


First Published in 1994


Joe Biden has become America's "it's not my fault" president. Whether it's the inflation, the border, the crime, the gas prices, the Afghanistan exit fiasco or the stock market collapse, Biden has become an expert at pointing the finger at someone else.

His presidency so far reminds me of the famous campaign slogan of then-New York Mayor David Dinkins, who admitted that everything was going wrong in the Big Apple on his watch and confessed, "I'm doing the best I can." New Yorkers believed him. And they wisely tossed him out of office for Rudy Giuliani, who actually fixed things.

Take the supply chain crisis. Biden constantly blames shortages, empty shelves and back orders of everything from cars to tampons to baby formula on "supply chain" disruptions. For example, if you try to buy a new car these days, you will probably have to wait for weeks or even months to pull into your driveway. Or you will have to pay $5,000 to $20,000 above the sticker price to get a car immediately.

I don't recall having these supply problems when Donald Trump was president. Do you?

One of the most remarkable business innovations of the last 40 years has been "just-in-time inventory" management. It is a logistical triumph of the economy that cut prices and ensured full shelves at the grocery store and Walmart. Then digital age companies such as FedEx, UPS and Amazon reliably deliver merchandise to your door.

Why is it just now that we are confronted with the goblins of supply chain disruptions? Biden says it is because we had the economy shut down, and then Trump left him with an economy in miserable shape. According to this narrative, Biden had to "build back better" and solve bottlenecks with cargo ships, airlines, warehouses and factories.

But that's not even close to the truth. The economy soared out of the COVID shutdowns that had paralyzed the economy in early 2020. In the second half of 2020, the economy snapped back with a rapid rebound. These were the last six months of the Trump presidency. There were few shortages or delays (except when companies couldn't get workers back because of sky-high welfare and unemployment benefits). Prices were stable in the first six months of the COVID recovery. When Trump left office, inflation was 1.5%, even though the economy grew by about 20% in the six months before Biden left office.

But then, when Biden took over, right from the get-go, here, there and everywhere "supply chain" problems emerged.

Why? First, Biden declared war on the American fossil fuel industry, so it began to contract output. Prices soared. Then he appointed regulators who made anti-business climate change rules that disrupted commerce flows.

And finally, he appointed people to key positions in his administration who were woefully unqualified for the task at hand. Kamala Harris, his vice president, was in charge of securing the border, and this was like a monographed invitation to illegal immigrants to come on over. Next, Pete Buttigieg was put in charge of transportation. He seems like a very nice man, but he went on paternity leave amid the cargo shipping crisis and took no practical steps to alleviate the jam up at the ports. With airlines canceling thousands of flights and leaving passengers stranded in strange cities, Mayor Pete is flunking again. People in the airline industry are starting to call the transportation secretary "Pass the Buck Buttigieg." As aviation analyst Gary Leff of the influential View from the Wing blog puts it: "While Buttigieg is scolding airlines over their operational performance, he is partly responsible for the problem and isn't actually doing things within his power to help fix !

 it." He's acting a lot like his boss.

In sum, the supply chain problems and high inflation aren't going away because no one in this administration knows anything about logistics, business, commerce or fixing things.

The Committee to Unleash Prosperity did a Google test to see how often people search for the term "supply chain problems."

Sure enough, the searches weren't too common for any of the 20 years before Biden was inaugurated. Then almost from the month that Biden was sworn in, the number of searches quadrupled. Coincidence?

Perhaps Biden, the man who blames everyone else for his failed presidency, is the real source of the supply chain problem. Maybe to get the Great American economic engine running smoothly again, he needs to be replaced.