There is one thing that many congressmen are good at, and it has nothing to do with their primary tasks like setting tax rates or allocating spending.
The congressmen and their staffs rarely miss an opportunity to come up with an acronym for pending legislation. A recent example was on shining display in a press release from the office of Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
Wicker was among five Republican senators who introduced a bill to reduce infant formula shortages by having the government work on supply chain issues. It also would provide temporary relief from tariffs and other restrictions that keep foreign-made formula from being sold in the United States.
Their bill, naturally, is called the FORMULA Act. It stands for Fixing Our Regulatory Mayhem Upsetting Little Americans.
On the one hand, you have to give credit to the people that sat around for a while to figure out a chain of words whose first letters spelled “formula” and actually made sense.
But on the other hand, it might better serve the public — including those trying to find food for their “upset little Americans” — if people on Capitol Hill used this creative brainpower in a more productive way.
They could, for example, recognize that Congress has played a role in whatever “regulatory mayhem” is going on, and review why government policy has allowed three companies to dominate the American infant formula market. They also could ask why there was an insufficient backup plan for the inevitable day when an unexpected event reduced production.
The immediate cause of the infant formula shortage was the shutdown of a Michigan plant after dangerous bacteria was found there. The plant is expected to reopen in the next few days, and formula supplies should begin returning closer to normal over the next several weeks.
While the pending bill temporarily waives tariffs and other limits on foreign formula, Wicker and his peers ought to use this opportunity to take a serious look at eliminating some of the laws or regulations that keep an important product like infant formula from the U.S. market.
Obviously the country doesn’t need lesser-quality formula, but companies in other developed nations surely make products comparable to the ones sold here. And if that’s true, why are they banned from the U.S.?
Help from overseas is already on the way. The first planeload of formula from Europe, 39 tons of it, landed Sunday in Indianapolis. Another 50 tons was scheduled to arrive today.
It seems likely that a primary goal of these tariffs and regulations are to protect the jobs at the American plants. Nobody’s against that goal — but it should not come with the risk of losing up to 40% of the formula supply, which is what happened when the plant had to shut down.
If it requires a clever acronym for legislation to broaden the infant formula supply, have at it. But this is a problem that can be solved.
— Jack Ryan, McComb Enterprise-Journal