It’s an endless cycle of incompetence and disaster for the Biden White House. There’s another looming economic crisis that could strike hard this week. As if the economic recession and high inflation weren’t enough of a financial puzzle for this motley crew to solve—we have a potentially catastrophic railroad strike that could cost the US economy billions and disrupt virtually all commercial and passenger traffic. There are reports of the White House working frenetically to avert a strike.
According to The Washington Post, two of the unions, who also happen to be the largest and most powerful, are not signing off on a new agreement based on sick leave and missed work penalties. The other ten unions that have given the new contract the green light have announced they will refuse to work in solidarity. There is a palpable fear within the Biden administration that a possible rail strike could erase the small gains Democrats made in August ahead of the 2022 midterms with their spending bill, which, advertised as non-inflationary, will—indeed—increase the level of inflation. The strike is set to go into effect at midnight on Friday, so if you have time to get to the grocery store—stock up on some extra items and fill your gas tanks (via WaPo):
President Biden made calls to union leaders and rail companies Monday, pressing for a deal to avert a national railroad strike that is days away from shutting down much of the country’s transportation infrastructure, according to a White House official.
Biden administration officials have also started preparing for a potential shutdown, warning a strike could seriously damage the U.S. economy, as well as hurt Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Biden’s calls follow unsuccessful emergency meetings at the White House last week, which have been led by the White House National Economic Council and included Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is also involved in trying to broker the impasse, said the two people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak freely about internal deliberations.
The freight industry has warned that the strike would shut down 30 percent of the country’s freight and “halt most passenger and commuter rail services.” A freight railroad shutdown could “devastate” Amtrak operations, according to the Association of American Railroads, with roughly half of commuter rail systems running at least partially on tracks or rights of way owned by freight railroads. Hundreds of thousands of daily commuter trips would be disrupted, the association said earlier this month.
The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes, a division of the Teamsters, on Sunday announced a tentative agreement with national rail carriers, leaving only two of the 12 unions without a deal in place. Those two groups, representing engineers and conductors, are politically powerful and the two largest rail unions in the country. The remaining 10 unions are expected to refuse to work in solidarity.
The administration has already faced criticism over its handling of the nation’s transportation infrastructure, which was wracked last year by supply chain snarls and this year by a spike in cancellations and delays at the nation’s airports. Some administration officials fear squandering the Biden economic victories of August that have helped increase Democrats’ poll numbers.
The Federal Railroad Administration, a part of the Transportation Department, has estimated that failure to reach an agreement could cost the U.S. economy as much as $2 billion per day in lost economic output. U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne P. Clark on Monday said a strike would be an “economic disaster” with “catastrophic economic impacts,” calling for urgent action to resolve the standoff.
It’s just the seat of irony with this so-called president. He says he’s Mr. Unity but labels half the country as domestic terrorists, labeling them enemies of the state. Biden has said he’s presided over the most incredible economic recovery ever when it’s in a recession and inflation remains at historic highs. And Biden, a pro-labor politician, could get caught in the crosshairs of a massive rail strike projected to cost $2 billion daily.
And yes, this could put the Democratic Party’s incompetence, specifically Biden’s, back to the forefront. The working-class party could get exposed for being the exact opposite.
Another important sub-plot with this rail strike is that we’ve been reminded that Pete Buttigieg is the transportation secretary, and he’s still around trying to do some work for once.