GOP’s new midterm attack: Blaming Biden for formula shortage
AUSTIN, Texas — 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.
“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 is determined to avoid repeating that mistake by announcing Friday that Abbott Laboratories, the formula maker, has committed to giving rebates through August for a food stamp program similar to WIC that aids women, infants, and children. Biden insists that there is “nothing more pressing we’re working upon” than addressing the shortage. Biden was asked if his administration had acted as quickly as they should have. He replied, “If our mind readers were better, I suppose 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. This is a new issue that the GOP can hammer at, and a way for families to address at a moment when Democrats believe outrage at the U.S. Supreme Court possibly ending abortion rights could galvanize women voters and other key voters and derail or at least lessen a Republican Wave in November. Republicans used full court press to link the shortage of formula with the increasing number of immigrants coming into the U.S., one of the most pressing issues they sought to blame on an unpopular president. Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Florida) shared an image Thursday of a shelf at a U.S. Border Patrol facility, Texas. It showed a single shelf that contained four boxes of baby formula containers and a half-dozen additional baby formula containers.
Cammack stated Thursday that the image was sent to her by a border patrol agent. The photo’s authenticity and date of capture have not been independently verified by the AP. Some conservative pundits have spun taller stories from the photo. Some claim that Biden is shipping “thousands” of pallets of formula to the border, while American parents struggle to find formula. Texas Governor. Greg Abbott called the images “shameful.” “
White House Press secretary Jen Psaki stated Friday that Border Patrol was “following the law”, which requires the government provide adequate food for children under one who are held at the border.
GOP consultants still consider it a ready-made issue that resonates among voters.
“It is just another one those consumer issues that come up from time to time and are very easy for people to understand,” said Matt Mackowiak a Republican strategist based out of Texas. “They have to find a solution quickly. “
Washington lawmakers are responding to the shortage of formula makers and the FDA by scheduling hearings. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Democratic leaders requested information from formula makers to include details about the steps they are taking in order to increase supply and stop 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 requests all documents related to the closing of Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan plant. Abbott Nutrition recalls several brands of powdered formula, and closes the factory after federal officials begin investigating four infants who had bacterial infections after they ingested formula from the plant.
Abbott was one of a few companies that produces the vast majority of U.S. formula supply. Their recall decimated a large portion 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. Arizona’s Mark Kelly, one of the most vulnerable Democrats, stated that the supply chain problems in formula, microchips and gasoline have complicated roots. Many of these roots go back to the pandemic.
“It is up to Congress to address these, and to try to figure how to overcome these bottlenecks. “But not because of an electoral vote. Because this affects people’s lives.”
Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix and Joshua Boak, Kevin Freking and Amanda Seitz in Washington contributed to this report.
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