The nation’s supply chain woes have become a punchline for the White House, even as President Joe Biden moves to address the delays slowing the availability of goods nationwide.
Asked on Tuesday whether Biden should have addressed bottlenecks in the supply chain more quickly, press secretary Jen Psaki appeared to joke that the problem was only limited to narrowly used goods.
“The tragedy of the treadmill that's delayed,” Psaki quipped in response to a question about those unable to receive dishwashers, furniture, or treadmills delivered on time. "Not to mention all sorts of other things.”
"But the serious point is, why didn't the president act sooner in a more aggressive way?" the reporter asked.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain drew attention last week after twice endorsing a claim that the country’s supply chain and economic issues were “high-class problems.”
Psaki defended Biden's track record, telling reporters he formed a task force early in his administration and calling the issues “multifaceted.”
“We've been focusing on the ports and issues at the ports,” Psaki said, noting the volume of goods processed has increased by more than a fifth since last year.
She said the task force has also worked to boost manufacturing slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, including coronavirus vaccine manufacturing. Additionally, the administration has sped up the approval of commercial driver's licenses by 60%, she said, increasing the number of drivers transporting goods.
“We've also been working with unions to help address the shortages of workers, whether they are at ports or whether they are driving issues or other components that impact the supply chain,” she added.
“The important thing to understand is that there are multiple issues that are impacting the supply chain. And some of that is the economy has turned back on, more people had expendable income [and] wages to buy more goods. More people are buying more goods,” including online, Psaki said. “We've seen the uptick, perhaps related to the fact that this season people are buying even more goods. But we've been working on it since February.”
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Original Author: Katherine Doyle