Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday said supply chain disruptions will only get better “when the pandemic ends.”
When asked during a 60 Minutes interview if he could “say when the supply chain issue will be solved,” Buttigieg answered, “When the pandemic ends, it’ll get a lot better.” The transportation secretary made the same statement in October 2021, telling Fox News that “there are definitely going to continue to be issues, especially as long as the pandemic continues.” At the time, average U.S. case counts were at 75,000, according to the New York Times‘s COVID data. Now, they are less than half as many.
The Biden administration has faced criticism in the last year for its handling of the supply chain crisis, which has delayed the delivery of everyday retail items, goods important to the production of automobiles, and oil. It has often attributed supply chain disruptions to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But while resignations and job vacancies are at near record highs, unemployment rates remain low.
A top economic adviser to former president Barack Obama has countered that supply chain difficulties stem not from pandemic restrictions but rather from the Biden administration’s untrammeled spending.
“Most of our supply problems have been homegrown: Americans have resumed spending freely, and along the way, they have been creating shortages akin to those in a shopping mall on Black Friday,” Steve Rattner wrote in a New York Times op-ed in February. “All that consumption has resulted from vast amounts of government rescue aid (including three rounds of stimulus checks) and substantial underspending by consumers during the lockdown phase of the COVID crisis.”
Last month, President Joe Biden extended his administration’s national emergency declaration for COVID-19, citing its “significant risk to the public health and safety of the Nation.” The declaration would have expired March 1 had Biden not notified Congress of the extension.