After 18 months in the White House, is it fair for the American people to ask: Does President Joe Biden know about anything that is happening in the United States today? From scapegoating grocery stores for soaring food prices to blaming Vladimir Putin for the energy crisis, Biden repeatedly claims ignorance as to what is actually transpiring on his watch. One of the newest emergencies to unfold under his administration is the widespread shortages of baby formula, with the president conceding that he could not prognosticate such a dire situation for millions of parents. Despite possessing enormous access to a treasure trove of data and corporate leaders, another question the public may be asking is: What will the next crisis be in the future?
I Know Nothing
Mr. Biden confirmed to reporters that he was not briefed on the possibility of nationwide shortages of infant formula for about two months. However, company executives at ByHeart, Bubs Australia, Gerber, Perrigo, and Reckitt conveyed to him at a meeting that they understand the enormous impact shutting down Abbott Laboratories’ Michigan facility in February would have on US stocks.
“They did, but I didn’t,” Biden told the press on June 1, adding that he was not informed of the urgency of the situation until early April. “There’s nothing more stressful than feeling you can’t get what your child needs.”
But this contradicts what Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has been telling journalists for weeks: The administration has been at the top of things since the plant’s closure. “We have been doing this whole of government approach since the recall,” she said. “We have been working on this for months, for months. We have been taking this incredibly seriously.”
Members of the US government are not even on the same page. Jean-Pierre confirmed to reporters that Biden has been satisfied with how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has responded to the issue. However, FDA Commissioner Robert Califf recently admitted to lawmakers that the agency’s response has been “too slow and there were decisions that were suboptimal along the way.”
Indeed, it has turned into a pattern for Biden. An emergency begins, the president promises he will resolve the issue, it later surfaces that he was unaware of these troubles, and challenges persist. Whether Biden is being purposely undermined or not, it would appear the people with whom he has surrounded himself may not trust him – or his faculties. Russian sanctions, the border crisis, Taiwan, inflation, and the long list of other pressing issues show an administration not all on the same page. And, reportedly, this is frustrating Biden because every time he makes comments to the Fourth Estate, officials will clean up what was uttered to journalists and purport that he really meant something else. This is no longer the Biden administration – it’s the Clean Up on Aisle 9 administration.
An Update on Formula None
Of course, acknowledging that the administration fumbled the ball on infant formula is not comforting to moms and dads across the country, especially considering that the shortages have worsened to 74% out of stock (OOS), according to new data from retail data firm Datasembly. Ten states now have OOS rates of at least 90%, including Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, and Rhode Island.
The White House has been scrambling to add supplies to shelves across the country. US officials recently announced that the third and fourth rounds of formula shipments from Australia and Great Britain were arriving next week. In recent weeks, President Biden has attempted to boost the domestic output of baby formula by invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) and importing foreign supplies – both ingredients and products.
Abbott is looking to put its Michigan facility back online after federal regulators noted that the bacteria discovered in the four sick children did not originate from this plant. The company, one of four that control 90% of the infant formula market, will now reopen the plant in the coming weeks, with production expected to begin sometime this summer.
Everything Is an Emergency – Including the President?
The United States is in a position whereby everything is in a state of emergency, from the high cost of diesel for truck drivers to parents unable to purchase formula for their bundles of joy. But it might be a legitimate concern to wonder if the president is an emergency, too. While every US leader has had his fair share of crises, Biden is facing a mountain of difficulties – economically and geopolitically. These stumbling blocks are irrelevant for large segments of the voting public because the populace no longer needs to read mean tweets, the 46th president now meets with South Korean boy bands, and the newest press secretary checks multiple diversity boxes. A state of panic, wrapped in woke virtue, is the new normal.