A grave shortage of baby formula is putting countless families in a panic right now. More than 40% of the most popular baby formula products are out of stock, and most stores have started rationing how much customers can buy. But unfortunately, some elected Republicans have decided to play politics and blame scapegoats rather than focus on real solutions.
“Joe Biden continues to put America LAST by shipping pallets of baby formula to the southern border as American families face empty shelves,” GOP Rep. Elise Stefanik tweeted.
“As parents face the nightmare of a nationwide formula shortage, the Biden Administration is happy to provide baby formula to illegal immigrants coming across the southern border,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lamented in a statement.
“America’s parents are struggling to find any spare baby formula on the shelves … while Biden has plenty reserved for illegal immigrants,” GOP Rep. Dan Bishop tweeted. “Now that’s America Last.”
These partisan criticisms woefully miss the mark, especially coming from the pro-life, pro-family party.
It’s true that several pallets of baby formula have reportedly been shipped to the southern border to feed the babies of detained illegal immigrants. But in the grand scheme of a nationwide shortage, that’s really not very much baby formula, hardly enough to make a difference either way.
In 2019, kids under 2 were 4% of family units arrested by Border Patrol & 1% of "unaccompanied" kids (taken from a nonparent). This means there were probably <400 babies in border jails at 1 time in March 2022. Starving those babies wouldn't help a national shortage much
— David Bier (@David_J_Bier) May 13, 2022
And as Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler explained, the Biden administration is actually obligated under federal law to provide this baby formula to the babies of detained illegal immigrants. This isn’t a choice so much as the president simply following the law, which sure doesn’t seem like something conservatives who support the rule of law ought to attack him over.
There’s also something morally grotesque about the demand apparently being made here by some Republicans to starve some babies and feed others based on the geography of their birth. It’s not as if an infant chose to break the law and come here illegally! We have the same obligation to feed all the babies in this country regardless of the sins of their parents or the accident of their birthplace.
“We shouldn’t provide formula to innocent babies apprehended at the border” is NOT the pro-life, pro-family, compassionate message the GOP needs. These are BABIES. I don’t care what flag they were born under. Come on. https://t.co/qkuUWPN3gq
— Alyssa Farah Griffin 🇺🇸🇺🇦 (@Alyssafarah) May 12, 2022
Even more importantly, all this faux outrage over a few pallets of formula at the border distracts from the real causes of this crisis—and the real solutions.
The nationwide shortage isn’t happening because too many babies at the border are getting fed. The actual root cause was a massive February recall of several popular baby formula products at an Abbott manufacturing facility over contamination concerns. Beyond this initial spark, the rest of the crisis stemmed from the myriad ways in which the federal government hindered the market’s ability to respond—which is where Republicans ought to focus their energy.
Reporting reveals that Food and Drug Administration officials were made aware of the problem months before the recall and did absolutely nothing. (Great work, guys, really making those tax dollars worth it!)
Then, as I explained for BASEDPolitics, the recall was horribly exacerbated by the huge taxes we place on imported baby formula, the choking regulation that stifles domestic production, and the outright import bans we place on most European baby formula products.
What’s more, if Republicans want to talk about this as it relates to the border, they should talk about the insane fact that Customs and Border Protection officials regularly confiscate European formula products—and presumably continue to do so while some people literally can’t feed their babies.
To be sure, many Republicans are engaging with this problem in good faith and working on real solutions. And it’s not as if the Democrats are any better when it comes to needlessly politicizing problems and unnecessarily escalating the culture war. Still, those Republican politicians allowing partisan warfare to supersede real solutions to the baby formula shortage are letting their constituents down.
This article originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.