There has been a dangerous shortage of baby formula for several months now that was initially downplayed as no big deal by the media and President Joe Biden’s White House, only for the administration to then suddenly begin to take action to address the issue last month while claiming that the issue had been adequately dealt with from the start.
President Biden held a virtual roundtable discussion Wednesday with relevant top officials and formula manufacturer CEOs and undermined his own White House team’s narrative by appearing to openly acknowledge that he had only recently been made aware of the months-old crisis.
At issue here is the recall of potentially contaminated baby formula by Abbott Nutrition and the subsequent shutdown of its primary facility in Michigan for a lengthy and inclusive investigation by the Food and Drug Administration in February, which almost immediately prompted a shortage in light of the fact that Abbott is a major supplier of America’s baby formula. The facility is expected to reopen and resume production soon.
Biden acknowledges ignorance of the major problem
During the roundtable discussion, the various CEOs of other formula producers all stated that they had instantly recognized the impending shortage in February and took immediate steps to ramp up production on their own to lessen the anticipated impact of the abrupt decrease in available and future supply.
Near the end of the event, during a period of questions and answers, Biden was asked if anybody at the FDA would be held “accountable” — presumably for the lengthy probe and likely unnecessary shutdown of production — and that is when, as he is known to do, the president promptly put his foot in his mouth.
“Well, I don’t think anyone anticipated the impact of the shutdown of one facility in — the Abbott facility. And it was accurately shut down because it was — the formula was questioned, in terms of its purity,” Biden replied. “And so, once we learned of the extent of it and how broad it was, we kicked everything into gear. And I think we’re — I think we’re on the way to be able to completely solve the problem, but …”
Several reporters quickly interrupted to point out that the several CEOs had literally just said they “immediately” recognized the severity of the problem. Biden simply replied, “They did, but I didn’t.”
BIDEN: “I don’t think anyone anticipated the impact of…the Abbott facility.”
REPORTER: “Didn’t the CEOs just tell you that they understood it would have a very big impact?”
BIDEN: “They did, but I didn’t.” pic.twitter.com/ge0go5gAPp
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) June 1, 2022
Who knew what and when?
At a later point in those questions and answers, President Biden also admitted that he’d only become aware of the issue in April, which completely contradicts the repeated claims by his White House that the administration had been dealing with the issue since the very start in February.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was hammered by numerous reporters about that apparent disparity during the press briefings on both Wednesday and Thursday, but she deftly dodged each and every query in that regard and merely repeatedly reiterated the same set of pre-scripted talking points and timelines that have been put forward for the past few months.
If both Biden and Jean-Pierre are telling the truth, that would mean that administration officials began to take substantial action to address a major problem before the president was even briefed on the issue, much less issued orders for the actions taken.
If true, it also lends credence to the growing narrative that Biden is, to some extent or another, kept out of the decision-making loop and isn’t really fully in charge of his own administration, which is an entirely separate issue that must be addressed sooner rather than later.