Idling container ships and empty shelves called 'policy success'

Idling container ships and empty shelves called 'policy success'

Cargo containers sit stacked on ships awaiting to be unloaded at the Port of Los Angeles. The bottleneck at West Coast ports and empty store shelves across the country are really a sign of a recovering economy according to the Biden administration. 

Idling container ships and empty shelves called 'policy success'

The Biden administration continues to push a massive infrastructure bill in Congress but an economic expert says the container ships piling up off the California coast desperately need more attention.

The number of container ships, loaded with millions of products, topped 100 ships this week in the ports at Los Angeles and Long Beach. That is a record number of idling ships at the two vital ports, where the bottleneck has created a supply chain problem on store shelves, and even school cafeterias, across the country.

Peter St. Onge, who studies economic policy at The Heritage Foundation think tank, points out that prioritizing and planning infrastructure projects takes years before the work is ever accomplished. That is surely the case, he says, with the bipartisan infrastructure package being debated in Congress. 

“So if we're in a crisis, and if this administration understands that,” St. Onge says of the $1.5 trillion bill, “back off on that stuff. Put it on the shelf."

That plea from a fair-minded economist, however, is likely falling on deaf ears in a White House where the administration is insisting store shelves are empty because happy shoppers are taking advantage of our recovering economy.

“People are buying more than ever before. We're seeing record goods coming through our ports,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told Fox News this week. “The demand is there, which is great news. It represents a policy success.”

In an interview with CNN, the recently AWOL Buttigieg said demand for products is “off the charts” because President Biden “successfully guided this economy out of the terrifying recession.”

The administration was also criticized this week after Press Secretary Jen Psaki cruelly dismissed the supply chain crisis as a “tragedy of the treadmill.”

Back in California, meanwhile, the backlog of container ships was getting noticed back in February when the sight of 50 container ships waiting to berth was breaking port records and making news headlines.

“We’re looking at this as a short-term issue,” a spokesman for the Port of Oakland told KPIX, a CBS News affiliate, eight months ago. “We’re hoping the log jam clears up in the next several weeks. But really, who knows? It’s a wait and see.”

St Onge, Peter (Heritage Foundation) St Onge

At the same time he was praising empty store shelves, the Transportation Secretary told CNN the supply chain problems are “all the more reason” for Congress to pass the infrastructure plan.

"We need to deal with the long-term issues that have made us vulnerable to bottlenecks,” Buttigieg told the cable news network, “when there are demand fluctuations, shocks, and disruptions like the one caused by the pandemic."

"If it's a great idea, then we can talk about it in a couple of years when they've fixed it," St. Onge says of the infrastructure bill. "Everything they are doing to supposedly respond to this crisis, they are making it worse."

Now that the American public is noticing what is happening in the stores, Fox News co-host Greg Gutfeld predicts the public will be blamed for the problems by the very leaders who are allowing those problems to happen. That is how the Soviet Union's authoritarian leaders treated innocent citizens, he said, and President Biden is sounding a lot like that, too. 

"We have to lower our expectations because it is on us. It's not on Joe," Gutfeld told viewers this week. "And how dare we expect competence from our government, right? The overriding message from the White House for every problem has always been it’s on you."