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Biden touts supply chain progress as holiday shopping gets underway

Initiatives include using defense powers to boost domestic medicine production

President Joe Biden delivers remarks Monday in the Indian Treaty Room of the White House about new actions to strengthen supply chains.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks Monday in the Indian Treaty Room of the White House about new actions to strengthen supply chains. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden was back at the White House after the Thanksgiving holiday on Monday, and he was back to talking about supply chains and inflation.

“As a share of earnings, this Thanksgiving dinner was the fourth cheapest ever on record,” Biden said, trying to link the cost of turkey, stuffing and side dishes to his administration’s efforts to ease price spikes caused by supply chain disruptions of recent years. He said that on Thanksgiving two years ago, there were 100 container ships backed up waiting to enter U.S. ports, compared with only 10 this year.

“Today, as folks start their holiday shopping, shelves are stocked,” the president said. “Meaning that if major appliances like a stove or a fridge broke down over Thanksgiving, you can replace it faster, and 9 percent cheaper than you did two years ago. These savings matter to so many families, especially at this time of the year.”

Biden’s remarks came as he announced dozens of actions designed to help bolster supply chain resilience, including convening the first meeting of a new White House council focused on the issue.

“I’m charging this group to ensure that our supply chains remain secure, diversified, resilient,” Biden said.

He also will be deploying the Defense Production Act to bolster the ability to manufacture more essential medicines within the United States. As part of the announcement, the Health and Human Services Department is prioritizing funding for domestic production of materials for sterile injectable medications. The White House said HHS would allocate $35 million for that purpose.

Biden’s actions include the launch of a new Quadrennial Supply Chain Review, due to be completed by the end of 2024. “As part of the review, the Council will update criteria on industries, sectors, and products defined as critical to national and economic security,” a fact sheet released ahead of the president’s remarks said.

The White House has highlighted lower gas prices, but critics of the president’s agenda pointed to steps the administration has not taken to reduce costs for consumers, including with respect to domestic energy production.

“He tries to hide his responsibility by accusing companies of ‘price gouging,’ when in reality most small businesses operate on slim profit margins and have no other choice but to pass along higher costs to consumers,” Alfredo Ortiz, the president and CEO of the Job Creators Network, said in a statement responding to the president. “The broken supply chain won’t be fixed by top-down policies like the Defense Production Act but rather through bottom-up, pro-growth policies like tax cuts, deregulation, and sound money.”

Ahead of Monday’s event, the Biden administration has been highlighting numbers from the New York Fed showing an easing of supply chain pressures from highs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elsewhere at the White House, a weekend post on the Truth Social platform by former President Donald Trump gave Biden’s team the chance to once again turn attention to the 2010 health care law and efforts undertaken by Democrats to bolster it during the current president’s first term.

“The cost of Obamacare is out of control, plus, it’s not good Healthcare. I’m seriously looking at alternatives,” Trump posted, highlighting the Republicans in the Senate who blocked efforts to repeal the law in 2017, Trump’s first year as president. White House deputy press secretary and senior communications adviser Andrew Bates circulated a memo Monday responding to the recent Republican commentary.

“The American people forcefully rejected Republican officials’ attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and hike prescription drug costs in 2018, 2020, 2022, and 2023,” the memo said. “Yet congressional Republicans are still working to cost millions their health care, gut coverage for preexisting conditions, restore insurance companies’ ability to kick you off your coverage if you get sick, throw Americans up to age 26 off their parents’ plans, charge women more than men, eliminate free mammograms and colon cancer screenings, slash Medicaid, and increase drug costs — all in the name of new tax welfare for wealthy special interests.”

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