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Our economic woes are not going away anytime soon, and President Biden seems to be doing his best to prolong them. New restrictions on travel to the United States, especially for the transit of cargo, coupled with a newly emerged strain of COVID, may cause the frail economy to spiral into 2022. The White House's policy errors will further exacerbate the delicate national recovery from the pandemic and become the greatest contributing factor to a worsening of our supply chain crisis and inflation.
While information surrounding the omicron variant is still emerging, if officials respond with more spending and lockdowns in the name of "emergency measures" it could lead to further pain for American households and a worsening supply situation - at a time when our nation simply cannot afford it.
With the holidays around the corner, Americans are experiencing inflated prices, goods shortages, and long shipping times. Right now would be the perfect time to simplify the transport of needed goods from the United States's No. 1 trading partner: Canada. More than $300 billion in truck freight came into the U.S. from Canada in 2020, and the loss of any significant portion of this will further hike prices and cause more empty shelves. Canadian and international goods arrive through our border crossings, and the White House is imposing a stiff travel restriction for all residents entering the country. Not only do tourists and visitors need to show proof of vaccination, but so do truck drivers. The new regulation, taking effect on Jan. 22, will further ensnare the arrival of both raw materials and finished goods into the country.
Considering that more than half of the freight entering the U.S. from Canada comes via truck, the effects will be immediate. Approximately 20 percent of Canada's truckers are unvaxxed. Even worse, it comes a full year into the Biden administration and the general rollout of vaccines. The White House is consciously breaking its promise to shut down the virus and not the economy.
The supply chain crisis is still in early stages, and the White House won't admit it. Jerome Powell is no longer using the qualifier "transitory" to describe inflation. Small retailers must consider whether to hoard goods to not run out of stock. The White House is papering over the severe issues, going so far as to launch a Federal Trade Commission inquiry into major retailers' role in supply issues rather than considering a change in policy. Small manufacturers are unable to get some raw or finished goods, and charities are having difficulty procuring Christmas gifts for needy kids. Biden's proposed tariffs, scaremongering over the omicron variant, and show investigations will all fail to solve the underlying issue of supply and demand.
At the same time, President Biden's proposed trade policies will only compound existing issues. The administration announced that it would double tariffs on Canadian timber, claiming unfair practices by the Canadian government after it had risen and fallen under the Trump administration. It is also weighing Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's request to shut down a major natural gas pipeline from the Great White North because of "climate change" concerns. Poor policy affecting American manufacturers and needed home heating fuel for winter is a strategic failure that not only harms the American economy but risks pushing inflation into overdrive.
The administration isn't instilling confidence in a nervous market. Last week, the president canceled a statement on the supply chain crisis at the last minute. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg dismissed concerns over soaring gas prices by stating that Americans can get around sticker shock at the pump just by buying electric vehicles. He previously blamed a lack of child care options for the current supply woes. For a White House doing its best to sneak a major tax cut for the wealthy into its Build Back Better bill, it appears that the everyday concerns of Americans struggling to pay their bills or fill their cars with gasoline are being dismissed.
Joe Biden sees himself as a transformative president, believing that the efforts of his last Democratic predecessor simply were not enough. However, the aloof nature that the president shows toward "kitchen table issues" fuels a disconnect between the Democratic Party and the working and middle classes. Esoteric concerns about climate change and tax cuts for luxury homeowners are the concerns of the upper middle class, not the electorate at large.
Biden campaigned as an everyman in 2020 and successfully siphoned off enough votes in swing states to achieve the White House. However, his policy initiatives will not only prolong the suffering from the pandemic and anemic economic growth but also be a visible reminder of the White House's failings for ordinary people. Much like the crisis in Afghanistan pierced Biden's desired visage of competence, continued economic stress is likely to make him the next Jimmy Carter, batted around by events on the world stage that are compounded by obvious mistakes of his own making.
Kristin Tate is a libertarian writer whose latest book is "How Do I Tax Thee? A Field Guide to the Great American Rip-Off." Follow her on Twitter @KristinBTate.