US President Joe Biden has tried to tame high inflation by expanding operations at the Port of Los Angeles amid threats to the economy and holiday shopping.
Prices are jumping in large part because container ships are stranded at ports and unloaded goods are waiting for trucks, leading to mass shortages and delays that have caused a longer than expected bout of inflation.
The rising costs are eating into worker pay, creating a drag on growth and driving Republican criticism of Mr Biden just as his tax, economic, climate and infrastructure agenda is going through the crucible of congressional negotiations.
The hope is that overnight operations will help to break the logjam and reduce shipping delays for toasters, sneakers, bicycles, cars and more.
“With holidays coming up, you might be wondering if the gifts you plan to buy will arrive on time,” Mr Biden said at the White House.
“Today we have some good news: We’re going to help speed up the delivery of goods all across America.”
But the expansion of port operations was also an unspoken recognition that inflation is lingering at higher levels long after the economy began to reopen from the coronavirus pandemic.
Businesses were worrying about long delays for shipping containers in June, yet the administration only formed its supply chain task force that month and named a port envoy on August 27 to address the challenge.
Ports are also just one piece of the puzzle, Mr Biden said.
The country needs more truck drivers, private retailers to step up and better infrastructure, as well as a supply chain that can less easily be disrupted by pandemics and extreme weather.
The president is trying to use the predicament as a selling point for his policy plans that are undergoing congressional scrutiny.
“We need to take a longer view and invest in building greater resiliency to withstand the kinds of shocks we’ve seen over and over, year in and year out, the risk of pandemic, extreme weather, climate change, cyberattacks, weather disruptions,” he said.
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