WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden wants to save Christmas — but he may not be able to.
He is set to announce Wednesday that the Port of Los Angeles would operate around the clock to alleviate a logistical bottleneck that has left dozens of container ships idling off the California coast and Americans waiting longer to get products manufactured overseas.
The agreement to have longshoremen unloading cargo through the night is intended to speed the flow of toys, electronics and other gifts to American doorsteps during the holiday season.
However, the plan addresses only one link in a global supply chain largely outside of Biden’s control, meaning he faces potential blowback from unhappy shoppers while also lacking the power to fix the mess.
Biden can’t force overseas factories to keep churning out products. He can’t hire more truck drivers to pick up cargo when it arrives. And he can’t stop the pandemic that continues to disrupt operations all over the world.
The bottom line: Americans want their stuff, and there’s very little that Biden can do to get it to them.
Matthew Sherwood, global economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit based in London, described the White House’s actions as “fairly limited.”
“I think the administration is doing what it can, but the reality is there’s not that much it can do beyond what they’re announcing,” he said.
Whether or not the supply chain problems are Biden’s fault may not matter to voters, who tend to project their displeasure toward the person in charge.
Biden faces a similar challenge with the coronavirus. His administration has made enough vaccines available for every American, but millions are still unwilling to get their shots, prolonging the deadly COVID-19 pandemic — and driving down the president’s poll numbers.