Pete Buttigieg, response to nationwide shortage of baby formula

Democratic presidential candidate South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigie smiles following an interview by FOX News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace, Sunday morning, Oct. 20, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)

Addressing the nationwide shortage of baby formula and high gas prices both have the attention of the White House at the “highest level,” says Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

On CBS’s “Face The Nation,” the former South Bend mayor spoke highly of what he said has been a timely response to both issues. On the subject of the baby formula shortage, Buttigieg said he finds it problematic that the Abbott Nutrition plant that shutdown in February holds such a big market share of the industry.

Republicans have criticized the president for the shortages. Buttigieg was pressed on why it has taken so long for Abbott and federal regulators to get the plant in Sturgis, Michigan to get back online.

“The government doesn’t make baby formula, nor should it. Companies make baby formula, and one of those companies, a company which seems to have 40-percent market share, messed up,” Buttigieg said. “At the end of the day, this plant needs to come back online safely.”

The plant was shut down because of concerns about Salmonella contamination in its products. Last week, the FDA gave Abbott permission to restart production, to which Abbott said it would do so within two weeks. It could be another month or so for the availability of baby formula to return to normal.

As for gas prices, which are still the highest they have ever been on average throughout the U.S., Buttigieg said the Biden Administration is trying to create options for Americans which he says will make things more affordable.

“It’s why we upped the fuel economy standards so that by the 2026 model year the cars will be so much more efficient if you have a gas car,” he said. “We’re also working to make electric vehicles more affordable.”

Buttigieg also doubled down on the administration’s stance that the oil companies themselves are partially to blame for high prices.

“Americans are feeling the pinch on product after product, and some companies have become ridiculously profitable, notably including oil companies,” said Buttigieg. “They are not complaining. They are not unhappy about the situation, the public is unhappy. The president is unhappy.”

Buttigieg said oil companies have said they are not using new permits to open up new drilling operations which Buttigieg added would bring prices back down. Oil companies, on the other hand, have blamed the White House because of strict regulations on the oil industry.

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