To fix supply chain crisis, we must give people incentives to get back to work

By Representatives Kevin Hern and Diana Harshbarger for Fox Business

It’s been more than a year and a half since government forced businesses to close at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Government told millions of Americans were that their participation in the workforce put their friends and families in danger. So, businesses were given no choice but to lay off workers who were then paid by the federal taxpayer to stay home.

President Joe Biden’s recent announcement to force vaccination mandates on companies employing more than 100 people has further exacerbated the workforce shortage. Now, once again, government is forcing many willing workers out of the workforce when we need them most. The dignity of work has been lost for millions of Americans, replaced by cradle-to-grave welfare from the federal taxpayer.

Decreased labor participation is impacting every industry. Restaurants are cutting hours because they don’t have enough staff. Manufacturers are decreasing output, airlines are canceling flights, grocery store shelves are emptying, and small businesses are hanging on by a thread.

Even though labor participation is down, consumer purchasing remains high due to many individuals stuck at home combined with exorbitant handouts from the federal government. This increases America’s dependence on foreign manufacturing.

The Biden administration’s policies are ensuring job creators will not recover from forced lockdowns; the effects of these job-crushing decisions have compounded and will continue to hurt Americans for years to come.

Most of America’s economic woes can be traced back to the Biden administration’s failure to prioritize return-to-work policies in the immediate aftermath of initial lockdowns. Democrats dragged their feet to get the economy back in motion. Without renewed investment in labor participation, the supply chain breaks.

Today, thousands of cargo ships are waiting to dock off American shores. These ships contain any number of products from cars made in Japan to clothing made in Spain to microchips made in China. But due to a decimated supply chain, these ships are waiting on dock workers, those dock workers are waiting for trucks, and the dwindling number of truck drivers are struggling to meet the heightened demand. 

When one link in the supply chain is interrupted, it affects everything else down the line.

When we drive around our hometowns, we see ‘Help Wanted’ signs in nearly every window. No matter the business, everyone seems to have empty jobs they’re desperately trying to fill.

This same crisis is happening in every community across our country but Democrat leaders are doing nothing to fix it. Instead, Democrats continue to extend unemployment payments, rent moratoriums, and generally make it as easy as possible for people to stay home and rely on the taxpayer.

The solution isn’t quick, but it is simple: incentivize a swift return to the workforce. It’ll take time to restore the supply chain. But the faster we get Americans back to work, the faster we will see results.

It starts at the the very last step in the supply chain: local communities. These are your neighbors—the workers who stock the shelves in your nearby grocery store and who cook the food in your favorite diners and restaurants.

It expands from there: the local and regional distributors, the truck drivers and cargo pilots who transport goods around the country, and both the domestic and foreign manufacturers who develop the products at the outset.  

What Americans can expect in the next one to two years is frequent shortages on products typically in ample and accessible supply. We don’t mean to scare you; it’s a fact. It’s a direct result of Biden’s lack of leadership. While we can’t stop what’s already in motion, we can control how long this plagues our future by working to restore labor participation to pre-lockdown levels.

A QR code can’t load a cargo truck at the port in Los Angeles and drive it to the Walmart in Topeka. You can’t refill the fuel storage tanks at your local gas station via Zoom. Despite all the new ways we learned to interact with each other during the lockdowns, the supply chain depends on you—an in-person workforce.

We need a strongly incentivized return to the workforce, return to job creation, and an economic environment that encourages growth. With an energized workforce and a priority on entrepreneurship, it will be morning in America once again.

Republican Kevin Hern represents Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.

Republican Diana Harshbarger represents Tennessee's 1st Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.