Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) idea of making policy is to punish as many people as he possibly can with outlandish acts designed to cater to the worst instincts of the MAGA base. His unconstitutional effort to launch criminal investigations against families with trans children was the obvious example. After all, threatening parents with child abuse for caring about their kids is hard to beat.
But apparently that was too narrow a focus for Abbott. Now he’s decided he wants to ruin the entire U.S. economy, all in the name of owning President Joe Biden.
In order to score points with the anti-immigrant contingent in the GOP, Abbott announced that Texas state inspectors were going to look at every single commercial vehicle entering his state from Mexico.
Ostensibly, this was to check for people trying to smuggle themselves into the country. Of course, that’s not how most people enter the country illegally, but Abbott wasn’t concerned with facts.
What Abbott wanted was publicity. He got it. His gimmick resulted in huge traffic jams stretching for miles and truckers waiting for as long as 30 hours to cross the border.
But the impact was more than just that. Truckloads of produce from Mexico rotted in the trucks. Car manufacturers, already hurting from supply chain issues, were further delayed as needed car parts sat in the Abbott-produced morass.
The ripple effect was felt across the country. With the economy struggling to get back on even footing, Abbott-made problems at key border crossings only serve to dampen the recovery.
“These actions are impacting people’s jobs and the livelihoods of hard-working families in Texas and across the country,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. “It’s not a political statement. That’s a statement of fact. I’d also note that what we’re seeing with these unnecessary inspections of trucks, transport, transiting ports of entry between Texas and Mexico are significant delays, which are resulting in a drop in commercial traffic of up to 60 to 70 percent in some ports.”
Even Abbott’s fellow Republicans were appalled at the stunt.
“[T]his policy will hurt Texas and American consumers by driving up already skyrocketing food prices, worsening ongoing supply chain disruptions, causing massive produce shortages, and saddling Texas and American companies with untold losses,” state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller told Abbott in a letter. Miller said that the additional inspections were “simply political theater.”
Of course, that’s the whole point. The Republican party has become a policy-free zone these days. Instead, it relies upon the kind of circuses that Abbott likes to put on for show.
All of which would be bad enough if it weren’t for the real harm that the gimmicks and stunts inflict on real people. But Abbott doesn’t care about that. If the economy slows down, he knows Biden will get the blame, not him.
Following an intense backlash, Abbott announced he was suspending the inspections because Mexican officials were instituting new security measures. Meantime, Abbott continues his other clownish immigration stunt: sending busloads of asylum seekers to Washington, D.C.
“Texas should not have to bear the burden of the Biden administration’s failure to secure our border,” Abbott declared. Originally, he was going to force asylum seekers to go whether they wanted to or not, until someone pointed out that was the equivalent of kidnapping.
But the stunt may not be working quite as Abbott planned. Sure, he’s getting the glowing covering on Fox News that he craves. But the asylum seekers are getting sent to a far more welcoming locale, where their needs and concerns will be taken a lot more seriously. As it turns out, getting out of Texas is sometimes a bigger win than trying to get into it.