CNBC Host Confronts Pete Buttigieg On Supply Chain Snags, ‘High Tax’ On Middle Class

[Screenshot/ CNBC]

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
Font Size:

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tried to defend the Biden administration Tuesday morning while on the “Squawk Box” after he was confronted about the supply chain backup and the effects of rising gas prices on middle class Americans.

“Your administration has been very clear about not wanting to raise taxes on average Americans of the middle class,” host Rebecca Quick asked. “But gas prices at the pump have been a huge tax on anybody who is driving anywhere.What do you do about that, and are you in favor of potentially putting a hold on the national gas tax in the meantime until those prices do come down?”

“Well it continues to be important to keep options open. As you know, the president has taken a lot of steps to bring relief and to help stabilize oil prices, including that big release from the strategic petroleum reserve,” Buttigieg said. “Of course, the long term solution for this is energy independence and a shift to renewable energy here in this country.”

“Let’s also remember while oil prices and gas prices are famously something that is largely outside of the direct control of any political figure, there are a lot of things we could be doing right now that would bring direct relief to the pocketbooks of American families that are greater than most any family’s gasoline bill,” he continued.

As of Monday, a gallon of regular-grade gas cost a national average of $4.325, up from $3.488 a month ago and $2.859 at the same time in 2021, according to AAA data. (RELATED: CNN Reporter Claims People Are ‘Okay’ With High Gas Prices As Long As Putin Is ‘Held Accountable’)

The White House has placed the blame for high gas prices most recently on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s also no question that when a foreign dictator invades a foreign country, and when that foreign dictator is the head of a country that is the third largest supplier of oil in the world that that is going to have an impact, and it is” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. Psaki also said prior to the invasion that the pandemic also led to inflation.

Quick also asked Buttigieg about supply chain issues, with the secretary admitting the backlog is still of concern.

“We know about the back up from the ports … but then there were reports of the ships being ordered to stay a little further out, I think the most important thing to measure is how long does it take something to get from here to there or from there to here. What have we done in terms of cutting down that time, has the wait time shrunk?”

“That’s right, if you measure, for example, in terms of the containers sitting there versus moving, there have been some real improvements there. I would agree with you it’s partly in terms of wait times, it’s also in terms of cost, we have seen margins and spot rates go through the roof. We’re looking for those to settle out a little bit, but we still have off the charts demand,” Buttigieg responded.

The White House announced Tuesday a new initiative to improve the supply chain backlog. The “Freight Logistics Optimization Works” is an information sharing initiative to get make the exchange of information within the supply chain easier. The program aims to “speed up the movement of goods” and “ease supply chain congestion.”