Updated Nov 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Dems fear supply-chain blame

Illustration of a donkey holding a teacher's stick, pointing at a background full of complicated diagrams and text.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As supply-chain kinks drive up prices and disrupt holiday shopping, Democrats are scrambling to show action and deflect blame.

Why it matters: With their party controlling both the White House and Capitol, vulnerable Democrats worry supply-chain snafus will hurt them in next year's midterms.

What's happening: Voters are quick to blame presidents for big problems. For President Biden, those include higher grocery and gas prices, plus the Everything Shortage.

  • Acknowledging as much, the White House on Wednesday sent reporters a pre-Black Friday recap of "three quick supply-chain points."
  • Those include retailers saying they have stock, plaudits for Biden's efforts to unstick the supply chain, and vague criticism that "the cartel of shipping companies that control the terms of global trade have never been more profitable."

Driving the news: House Democrats — particularly in swing districts — are urging their leaders to make the issue a priority.

  • Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), who has introduced a number of bills to address the supply-chain issue, plans to push House leadership to bring more related measures to the floor, an aide to the congresswoman told Axios.

A bipartisan group of House members, including vulnerable Democratic Reps. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) and Colin Allred (D-Texas), sought to renew the Supply Chain Caucus last week, according to a Craig aide.

  • Craig said in a statement to Axios: "It’s clear that our reliance on global supply chains have left us unprepared to meet the demand that our economy is currently experiencing."

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) filmed a video in her district, home to two GM plants that have closed intermittently because of chip shortages. She said she is working on legislation to ensure microchips are made in the U.S.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) sent Biden a letter urging him to appoint a supply-chain czar.

  • Spanberger praised the president for tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but said there's much work left to be done.

Biden has taken several steps to mitigate supply-chain disruption.

Between the lines: Many experts agree with Biden that the pandemic is to blame.

  • COVID-19 outbreaks have swept through factories across Southeast Asia, slowing down production of clothes, shoes, electronics and furniture, Axios’ Sam Baker writes.
  • Some U.S. swing voters said during a recent focus group they don’t blame the president for inflation.
Go deeper