Politics A plan to secure America's supply chains
Regulatory restrictions are making food supply chain disruptions worse
Beef, pork and chicken prices are up 26 percent, 19 percent and 15 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels. Why the price spike? As the pandemic drags on, labor shortages and jammed up ports are a focal point of media coverage, but reports have largely overlooked the impact of cumbersome, overlapping regulatory restrictions on food supply chain disruptions. © The Hill Regulatory restrictions are making food supply chain disruptions worse The objectives of food law are often clear, but the outcome of these laws is often muddled.
Supply chains - once the esoteric concern of inventory specialists and shipping companies - have emerged over the past year as a crucial andlink in global commerce. The and , recognizing that the sinews of America's economic vitality and national security have become increasingly stressed, have pursued parallel efforts to better understand and address vulnerabilities in the country's critical supply chains.
In March, the House Armed Services Committee stood up the, and gave the bipartisan committee three months to formulate legislative proposals that could be folded into the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. The task force's efforts culminated in a , released last week, that offers actionable recommendations for the Defense Department to secure America's defense supply chains, and lessen reliance on adversarial manufacturing for critical supplies.
China's disappearing ships: The latest headache for the global supply chain
Ships in Chinese waters are disappearing from global trackers, creating yet another headache for the global supply chain. China's growing isolation from the rest of the world — along with a deepening mistrust of foreign influence — may be to blame. © VCG/Getty Images A cargo ship seen at Yangshan Deepwater Port in Shanghai last October. Shipping data companies say they've lost information about ships in Chinese waters in recent weeks. Analysts say they started noticing the drop-off in shipping traffic toward the end of October, as China prepared to enact legislation governing data privacy.
The task force's mandate was three-fold: understand the Defense Department's processes for analyzing supply chain risk; determine how the Pentagon prioritizes and mitigates identified risk; and offer recommendations that Congress and other relevant agencies canto "help build resilience against future shocks to the supply chain" both in the short and long term.
Thelays out six overarching recommendations as legislative proposals for inclusion in the NDAA. These recommendations include statutory requirements for supply chain risk management, auditing, and diversification, bolstering relevant human capital, enhancing international partnerships, and enacting a comprehensive rare earths supply chain strategy. These recommendations are sensible and would be logical additions to the next NDAA.
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Will Democrats’ child care plan help millions, or throw the system into chaos?The plan aims to help millions of families with children under age 6 get affordable child care for the first time, funding most or all of the cost of their care at licensed providers. The bill would also steer an influx of federal cash to boost wages for child care workers and spur the opening or expansion of child care facilities.
The task force went further and made additional recommendations for Congress and the White House to consider. One pertains to the Defense Production Act, or DPA, a once-obscure law thatto speed up and expand the supply of materials and services by private industry to bolster national defense. In the early months of the pandemic, the Trump administration used the DPA to the manufacturing of critical medical supplies, such as ventilators and N95 masks, and to of personal protective equipment, or PPE.
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The task force calls on the White House and Congress to consider a series of recommendations to bolster the Pentagon's DPA authorities, including boosting appropriations, removing spending limits for individual shortfalls, and permitting the transfer of funds into the DPA from other agencies to speed up reaction times during a crisis.
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CLEVELAND (AP) — CVS, Walgreens and Walmart pharmacies recklessly distributed massive amounts of pain pills in two Ohio counties, a federal jury said Tuesday in a verdict that could set the tone for U.S. city and county governments that want to hold pharmacies accountable for their roles in the opioid crisis. Lake and Trumbull counties blamed the three chain pharmacies for not stopping the flood of pills that caused hundreds of overdose deaths and cost each of the two counties about $1 billion, said their attorney, who in court compared the pharmacies' dispensing to a gumball machine.
Congress, however, should go even further.
DPA can serve as a bellwether for supply chain risks by routinizing, an ideal vehicle for providing up-to-date data on critical industries, materials, and technologies to government and the private sector. Congress should also expand the scope of the DPA by establishing a Title III office under the Commerce Department. Title III of the DPA provides the executive branch with the authority to use incentives - loans, loan guarantees, and purchase commitments, among others - to ensure timely availability of inputs needed for U.S. national security and defense. Currently, the Defense Department is the only federal agency with the capability to execute Title III authorities. A Title III office under the Commerce Department could focus on projects related to economic or technological competitiveness, while the Defense Department continues to oversee military and defense-related projects.
The task force also cites the need to partner with allies on novel approaches to supply chain resilience, such as with multilateral production and surge capacity agreements. There is a commendable emphasis on "ally and friend-shoring" throughout the report. This dovetails with Biden administration efforts to tackle supply chain concerns with Japan and South Korea bilaterally, with the countries of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, and with the European Union via the Trade and Technology Council. Scaling and implementing these agreements will require creating new. To do so, Congress should authorize the creation of the Technology Partnership Office at the Department of State to facilitate multilateral efforts to diversify and secure key supply chains.
Breaking down what to watch for as Biden, Trudeau, López Obrador tackle immigration, supply chain
Regional friction over issues like trade and immigration could overshadow Biden's attempt to revive the North American leaders' summit.Biden will meet face-to-face with Trudeau and López Obrador together for the first time since the leaders took office in what will be the first summit between the three countries following four years of former President Donald Trump's fractious relationship with Mexico and Canada.
Supply chain vulnerabilities are a central component of the global technology competition. How the U.S. government identifies and addresses these risks - security, lack of vendor diversity, fragility, reliance on materials and technology from adversaries - will have an outsized impact on America's long term economic competitiveness, political power, and military might.
The road ahead is difficult: threading the needle on free market principles and government intervention in the economy; striking the balance between self-reliance and international partnership; and calibrating between investments in proven capabilities and possible game-changing innovations. The task force's efforts, alongsidewithin the Biden administration, represent an important first step, however, in determining how best to secure U.S. supply chains. This work is more critical now than ever.
Martijn Rasser is the Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) Technology and National Security Program. Megan Lamberth is a Research Associate for the Technology and National Security Program at CNAS. They are the authors of the CNAS report, "."
The roots of inflation go far beyond the supply chain .
While supply-chain problems are pushing up prices by creating an imbalance between what people produce and what they want to consume, inflation has causes that go far beyond this issue. Since 2007 the U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, has created $8 trillion (equal to the GDP of one-and-a-half Japans) out of thin air. Of course, for that increase in the monetary base to cause price inflation, other factors need to be present (and not be present): Namely, people need to spend that money and the production of goods and services must not grow fast enough to neutralize those new dollars.