Out Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg fired back at conservatives attacking him for taking paternity leave after his kids were born – going so far as to accuse him of canceling Christmas for supposedly ignoring supply chain problems – by telling them to get vaccinated.
Buttigieg joined out Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at the White House Press Briefing yesterday to talk about supply chain problems affecting international trade, something that conservatives have been attacking him over for several months.
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Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), for example, went so far as to say: “You can’t celebrate Christmas this year like Mayor Pete and Chasten” because some items won’t be available for purchase. The supply chain issues had their origins with the beginning of the pandemic last year when Donald Trump was still president.
Moreover, it’s not exactly clear what conservatives like Boebert want Buttigieg to do about it, but they have used the issue to mock him for taking paternity leave after his two kids were born. Conservatives who are uncomfortable with the idea of LGBTQ parents accused Buttigieg of taking “maternity leave” to “figure out how to breastfeed” his kids.
At the press briefing, Buttigieg discussed what the Department of Transportation is doing to help speed up imports and shipping to help ease some of the problem, but noted that “it’s not that ports are moving less goods, that they’ve somehow been less able to move. They’re moving more goods than ever. It’s just that it’s still not keeping up with demand.”
He said that supply chains aren’t just ports, but entire networks with “a thousand points in that chain where something can go wrong.” He added that the COVID-19 pandemic “is poking holes” in those chains because of “enormous demand, the constraints on supply, the outdated infrastructure that is all runs on.”
“It started with toilet paper, then it was beef last year,” he said, before he pointed out that there is something everyone could be doing to help with this problem: get vaccinated.
“The best way to end a pandemic-related shortage is to end the pandemic, and that’s why the vaccine push is so important,” he said.
Buttigieg: It’s not that the ports are moving less goods. They’re moving more goods than ever. It’s just that it’s still not keeping up with the demand. pic.twitter.com/QciQZnm9ap
— Acyn (@Acyn) November 8, 2021
Conservatives like Boebert who are enraged at Buttigieg for taking care of his kids also tend to be the same people complaining that the U.S. isn’t treating “unvaccinated Americans” well enough, when they could go get a free shot at any point.
When it comes to the supply chain, a big part of the problem is the lack of vaccine access in poorer nations. For example, Vox notes that most factory workers in Vietnam – the second-largest supplier of clothing and shoes to the U.S. – are unvaccinated and outbreaks of COVID-19 are leading to frequent factory closures. The government is even telling factory workers in high-risk regions to eat and sleep where they work to reduce the chance of an outbreak in their factories.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., shipping companies are having trouble unloading and transporting imports because of a lack of people to fill jobs with low wages and bad benefits. For years, the trucking industry has said there is a shortage of truck drivers, a problem exacerbated by the pandemic with drivers moving to new employment – or retirement – because of the economic downturn last year.
Even if there are enough recruits to be truck drivers, there’s a bottleneck when it comes to training and licensing new drivers. The number of truckers in the U.S. has not returned to pre-pandemic levels despite increased demand for goods transported by truck.