COVID and the lockdown-induced recession did a number on American businesses and families. More than two years since the crisis began, the economy still seems to be on its last leg — even amid President Joe Biden’s lofty plan to “Build Back Better.” In a four-part series, The Daily Wire chronicles the “Bidenomics” regime and how it is eviscerating the American people.
When COVID hit the United States in the spring of 2020, many consumers were greeted with empty shelves at the supermarkets for basic staples like toilet paper. Those shortages, however, were just the tip of the iceberg.
Aggressive lockdowns shuttered key manufacturing facilities and logistics hubs across the world as the virus began to spread. As those lockdowns persisted in China and other Asian economies, consumers in the West saw drastically higher prices — or an absence of certain products altogether.
By the end of 2021, hundreds of shipping vessels carrying thousands of containers were stranded off the California coast as the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach struggled to keep up with demand. Today, farmers are warning that every agricultural input — from diesel fuel to fertilizer — is in short supply, threatening to worsen food shortages and inflationary pressures.
It is not necessarily possible for President Joe Biden and other policymakers to make communist China reopen its factories. Yet several domestic factors that find their origins in Biden administration policies continue to aggravate the supply chain crisis.
Even before the recession, trucking companies struggled to attract and retain drivers. Those challenges worsened with the return of consumer demand, leading to a shortage of 81,000 truckers. Rather than incentivizing a return to the workplace, Biden passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which included a round of $1,400 relief payments and an extension of enhanced federal unemployment insurance.
“Overall federal spending continues to drive the amount of money sloshing in the economy,” Heritage Foundation Research Fellow Peter St. Onge told The Daily Wire. “This additional spending continues to push demand to unsustainable levels, with too much money chasing too few goods … stimulus checks and high unemployment benefits have taken over 5 million workers out of the labor force compared to the pre-COVID trend, which disproportionately affected lower-wage workers who are critical to supply chains.”
Beyond the American Rescue Plan, industry groups like the American Trucking Associations warned the Biden administration that its national vaccine mandate would cause nearly 40% of truckers to walk away from their jobs. “We ask for flexibility for transportation and supply chain essential workers, particularly truck drivers who spend most of their time in their trucks and have minimal contact with colleagues and customers,” the groups wrote to President Biden.
Meanwhile, President Biden has been a close ally to labor unions — the entities responsible for crippling efficiency at American ports.
“Supply chain issues have been significantly worse in the United States than other industrialized countries like Japan or [throughout] Europe,” St. Onge explained, “because here they were exacerbated by outdated and union-dominated ports, by labor and environmental rules, particularly in California, and by stimulus policies that paid blue-collar workers to stay home when they were desperately needed from warehousing to transportation.”
A recent study from the World Bank found that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach were among the least efficient in the world through 2021 — even ranking below “famously bad” facilities in Tanzania and Kenya, according to St. Onge. “This is because unions have fought hard against automation in order to protect union jobs that pay $200,000 and up.”
Rising energy and transportation prices have likewise increased costs for businesses. The Producer Price Index (PPI) rose 10.8% from May 2021 to May 2022, a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently revealed. The index’s rise occurred as prices at the pump continually reached new highs, at one point surpassing a national average of $5 per gallon.
“Because energy is an input to literally every good and service in the economy,” St. Onge commented, “pipelines, drilling permits and threats to arrest energy executives all feed to reduced supply of energy, hence higher prices. National oil production is almost one-third below the Trump-era trend, despite a doubling of oil prices that should have brought enormous new supplies into production by now.”
Indeed, President Biden has drawn criticism for sitting idle on 9,000 drilling permits and refusing to greenlight the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline — even as other White House officials claim that “the only way” out of high energy prices is by developing green energy solutions.
“Of the three key problems — union-controlled ports, labor and environmental rules, and paying people to stay home — none are being addressed by the administration,” St. Onge noted. “Rather than boosting supply to match consumer spending, this administration may end up destroying spending until it matches atrophied supply.”
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.