Politicians from both parties are spouting empty talking points about the baby formula shortage that’s leaving millions of American families in the lurch. But Senator Mike Lee just introduced legislation that could actually do something about it.
As I previously explained for BASEDPolitics, the current shortage is very much a product of the federal government’s incompetence.
Domestic baby formula production is one of the most regulated and subsidized products in America, distorting the market so grotesquely that it has centralized around just a few companies, essentially an oligopoly. This crony capitalist market concentration left the supply vulnerable when Abbott, one of the manufacturers, had to issue a recall due to a potential contamination issue. (Which the Food and Drug Administration was warned about months in advance and did nothing about).
What’s more, the federal government heavily taxes imported formula and outright bans its import from many advanced nations, like most European countries. This is where Lee’s legislation comes in.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) May 17, 2022
Stop blaming capitalism for the failures of government challenge 🤡🤡🤡 pic.twitter.com/sVQzPUq0pu
— Brad Polumbo 🇺🇸⚽️🏳️🌈 (@brad_polumbo) May 17, 2022
The FORMULA Act would suspend, for six months, the current tariffs on safe, imported baby formula from countries including Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. It would also temporarily remove the regulations that outright prohibit the importation of baby formula from many countries.
“American babies are going hungry and the federal government is standing in the way,” Lee said. “Current policies, tariffs, quotas, bans, and regulations are preventing mothers and fathers from being able to make the best choices to feed their babies. My FORMULA Act will give these families relief during this unprecedented shortage. Congress needs to pass this bill immediately to protect American babies from going hungry.”
It’s just basic economics. Shortages happen when demand outstrips supply. And, as it turns out, one easy way to boost the supply of baby formula would be to stop discouraging or outlawing so many would-be international suppliers.
Who woulda thunk it?