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Buttigieg Says Lack of Child Care Partially to Blame for Supply-Chain Issues

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg speaks during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, November 10, 2021. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

Asked for an explanation of the supply-chain issues afflicting the American economy on Wednesday’s edition of Morning Joe, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg urged viewers to “think of it in terms of supply and demand,” before also citing COVID-19 and, most insistently, child care, as proximate causes.

According to Buttigieg, the appearance of supply-chain issues are not due to systemic failures, but are instead the result of sky-high demand. He added that “the pandemic continues to poke holes in our ability to get goods where they need to go.”

Pressed by host Mika Brzezinski on the role of worker shortages in creating issues, the secretary — who recently returned from a hushed-up, two month stint of paternity leave — cited child care as a major issue.

“There are a lot of things contributing to this, one of them is child care of course, which is why the president’s Build Back Better vision is gonna be good for the labor market,” he explained, before also arguing that they need to be “better jobs.”

Brzezinski countered that benefits and pay are higher than ever, and noted that “before COVID, before Biden, there was a problem with child care, and people still went to work.”

Buttigieg again asserted that child care is “a greater crunch than ever,” before once again pitching Build Back Better, a $1.75 trillion spending bill being championed by the Biden administration even as inflation continues to rear its head at the gas pump and grocery store.

President Biden and members of his administration have repeatedly insisted that the bill will actually alleviate inflation rather than exacerbating it by flooding an already overheated economy with money.

Brzezinski replied, “I still don’t understand,  I mean, if you’re telling me that Build Back Better will bring people back to work because of much-needed and long-needed issues like child care and pre-K, that still doesn’t explain why people aren’t coming to work today.”

“Well again, I would not ignore the issue of child care,” said the cabinet member, who referred to the shortages as a “reckoning” for employers who were having to offer more attractive compensation packages than they had pre-pandemic.

The exchange occurred the same morning as a new report from the Department of Labor indicated that the consumer price index was up 6.2 percent from a year ago, a 31 year high. Inflation and supply-chain problems have resulted in dismal job approval ratings for President Joe Biden on the economy. According to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll, only 31 percent approve of his performance in the all-important area. Sixty percent disapprove.

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