GOP’s new midterm attack: Blaming Joe Biden for formula shortage
Rebecca Heinrich, director of the Mothers' Milk Bank, loads frozen milk donated by lactating mothers from plastic bags into bottles for distribution to babies Friday, May 13, 2022, at the foundation's headquarters in Arvada, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

baby formula
Abbott is one of only a handful of companies that produce the vast majority of the U.S. formula supply, so their recall wiped out a large segment of the market.

Republicans aiming to retake control of Congress have already sharpened a message centering around blaming Democrats for high inflation, expensive gas, migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and violent crime in some cities.

But GOP leaders landed on an issue this week that it hopes could prove even more potent: tying President Joe Biden to a shortage in baby formula.

Parents are suddenly running into bare supermarket and pharmacy shelves in part because of ongoing supply disruptions and a recent safety recall. But in an election year that was already shaping up to be rocky for Democrats, Republicans sense that the shortage could prove to be an especially tangible way to argue that Biden is incapable of quickly solving problems confronting the U.S.

“This is not a Third World country,” said GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the chair of the House Republican conference. “This should never happen in the United States of America.”

The administration has sometimes been slow in responding to sudden political threats, perhaps most notably when signs of inflation began to surface last year. The White House appears determined not to repeat that mistake, announcing on Friday that formula maker Abbott Laboratories committed to give rebates through August for a food stamp-like program that helps women, infants and children called WIC.

Biden insisted there’s “nothing more urgent we’re working on” than addressing the shortage.

Asked if his administration had responded as quickly as it should have, Biden said, ”If we’d been better mind readers, I guess we could’ve. But we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent.”

But the defense by the White House illustrates how finger-pointing at the Biden administration has already spread far and wide among Republicans in Washington, on television and on social media. It’s a new issue for the GOP to hammer at and a way to address families at a time when Democrats believe outrage over the U.S. Supreme Court possibly ending the right to an abortion could galvanize women and other key voters, and thwart or at least lessen a Republican wave in November.

The full-court press by Republicans included linking the formula shortage with the rising number of migrants coming into the U.S. — one of the biggest issues they have sought to lay at the feet of an unpopular president. On Thursday, Rep. Kat Cammack shared an image of a shelving unit at a U.S. Border Patrol facility in Texas that showed a single shelf with four boxes full of baby formula containers, and a half-dozen more baby formula containers on that shelf.

Cammack said Thursday that a border patrol agent sent her the image. The AP has not independently verified the photo’s authenticity or when exactly it was captured. Some conservative pundits and news outlets have since spun even greater tall tales from the photo, with some claiming that they show Biden is shipping “thousands” of pallets of baby formula to the border while parents in the U.S. struggle to find formula. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the images “shameful.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that Border Patrol is “following the law” that requires the government to provide adequate food, specifically formula for children under the age of one, who are detained at the border.

GOP political consultants nonetheless call it a ready-made issue that resonates with voters.

“It’s just another one of those consumer issues that pop up from time to time that are very easy for people understand,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist based in Texas. “They’ve got to figure out a solution and they’ve got to do it soon.”

In Washington, lawmakers are responding to the shortage by scheduling hearings and demanding information from the FDA and formula makers as part of sweeping investigations. Democratic leaders of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote formula makers seeking information that includes what steps they are taking to increase supplies and prevent price gouging.

“The national formula shortage poses a threat to the health and economic security of infants and families in communities across the country—particularly those with less income who have historically experienced health inequities, including food insecurity,” said a letter to Chris Calamari, the president of Abbott Nutrition.

The letter seeks all documents related to the closure of Abbott Nutrition’s plant in Sturgis, Michigan. Abbott Nutrition recalled several major brands of powdered formula and shut down the factory when federal officials began investigating four babies who suffered bacterial infections after consuming formula from the facility.

Abbott is one of only a handful of companies that produce the vast majority of the U.S. formula supply, so their recall wiped out a large segment of the market.

Democrats are framing the shortage as an example of how Americans are harmed when a few big companies control the market. But like inflation or high gas prices, their challenge is explaining the contributing factors to the public.

Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, one of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection this year, said the supply chain problems with formula, microchips, gasoline and other products have complex roots, many that stretch back to the pandemic.

“It’s up for us in Congress to address these, to try to figure out where to go, how do we overcome these bottlenecks in the supply chains,” Kelly said. “But not because of an election. Because this affects people’s lives.”

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Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

Associated Press


7 comments

  • Claude Kirk the younger

    May 14, 2022 at 9:29 am

    The GOP is a little off target but I understand why they must blaim the mindless empty suit for all the damage inflicted upon our great and beautiful Lady known as The USA during what the left thinks is “The Biden Administration”.
    Welcome to “The Obama Administration 3.0”.

    Everyone knows this to be true in their heart but “Shhhhhhh!!!!!” we still have to pretend the mindless empty suit is in charge.

    In todays political enviornment we must keep voter’s minds and hearts as far seperated as possable and rely 100% on the voting sheeple’s emotion and group think to win. Thats why there is so much angst and panic over possable changes to Twitter.

    The current peremptive leftist pushback to the Twitter possable changes is the Mary Poppins National Disinformatuon lady. But there must be more leftist pushback because the leftist voting population + whatever election cheating the left slips in at this point is still not enough for a midterm win.

    Yeah everyone already is aware the leftist puppet master is going to roll out a Covid “MidTerm Varient” but that combined with Mary Poppins, cheating, and whatever else is thrown at the leftist lying wall to see if it will stick wont stem the red wave at midterms.

    Will the left call for the burning of our cities and dangerous rioting again? Hell yes they will. They feel cornered in a box of truth, justice, and the American way. Expect the petulant left to pull out all stops this time.

    Be strong.

    Reply

  • Pointing the Claw

    May 14, 2022 at 10:39 am

    Associated Parrots’ take on the baby formula issue: blame Trump.

    Reply

  • Brandon

    May 14, 2022 at 10:58 am

    But Brandon will fix it.

    Reply

  • Claude Kirk the younger

    May 14, 2022 at 1:43 pm

    This baby formula issue along with each and every negative issue is always blamed on the party in control of the White House. Thats the way it has been and always will be.
    I just wish people would focus on all the great things the Democrats have done durring the Biden administration.
    For example:
    Well there was the…no wait… that actually was an epic fail…then thete was…no that is also a major fail.
    At least we should focus on the mediocre things the Biden Admn. has done.
    Heres a great example:
    No wait that was an abject failure. Well what about…no wait also an epic fail…
    But at least CNN likes Biden and can you all please vote Democrat because of CNN?
    Ok what if we threaten to start WWIII will you please vote for Democrats then…Please????

    Reply

    • Flag Waver

      May 14, 2022 at 8:20 pm

      Only Joe could steer us into a global war with a nuclear enemy on the theory that America always supports a wartime president.

      Reply

  • Tom

    May 14, 2022 at 4:58 pm

    Team Biden Adm has created hurdles and did not work to ensure this plant manufacturing problem was rectified more expediently. Of course our domestic companies need to be held accountable. Closing the Michigan plant due to health issues exacerbates the problem.

    This reflects a greater loss of America’s domestic production and limitations. They knew of this in February. Very bad management.

    Very sad for parents and infants. Amazing.

    Reply

  • Tom

    May 14, 2022 at 9:46 pm

    He’s horrible.
    Just atrocious, his disapproval in Florida according to civiqs poll is now 34%.
    He’s a 1000 PF weight on Dums everywhere let alone Florida. It’s a landslide winning election in nov for DeSantis, Marco and GOP.

    Reply

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