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Biden tries to tame inflation by having Los Angeles port open 24/7

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden tried to reassure Americans on Wednesday that he can tame high inflation, announcing a deal to expand operations at the Port of Los Angeles as prices keep climbing and container ships wait to dock in a traffic jam threatening the U.S. economy and holiday shopping.

Prices are jumping in large part because container ships are stranded at ports and because unloaded goods are waiting for trucks, leading to mass shortages and delays that have caused a longer than expected bout of inflation. The rising costs are eating into worker pay, creating a drag on growth and driving Republican criticism of Biden just as his multitrillion-dollar tax, economic, climate and infrastructure agenda is going through the crucible of congressional negotiations.

The White House responded to the backlog by finalizing an agreement for the Port of Los Angeles to become a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation. The hope is that nighttime operations will help to break the logjam and reduce shipping delays for toasters, sneakers, bicycles, cars and more.

“With holidays coming up, you might be wondering if the gifts you plan to buy will arrive on time,” Biden said at the White House. “Today we have some good news: We’re going to help speed up the delivery of goods all across America.”

But the expansion of port operations was also an unspoken recognition that inflation is lingering at higher levels long after the economy began to reopen from the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses were worrying about monthslong delays for shipping containers in June, yet the administration only formed its supply chain task force that month and named a port envoy on Aug. 27 to address the challenge.

Ports are also just one piece of the puzzle, Biden said. The country needs more truck drivers, private retailers to step up and better infrastructure, as well as a supply chain that can less easily be disrupted by pandemics and extreme weather. The president is trying to use the predicament as a selling point for his policy plans that undergoing congressional scrutiny.

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