It’s hard to keep up these days with the tides of Republican malevolence and press failures. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this one. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been mounting various stunts in recent weeks to keep the border immigration issue at a boil for his own 2022 reelection campaign. His latest move was to impose universal safety inspections on trucks coming from Mexico into Texas to snarl the border, drive up prices and possibly create food shortages in the United States. The proximate reason for this move is President Biden’s decision to phase out COVID-era restrictions on asylum seekers. Price spikes and border chaos are his weapon against Biden.
The chaos has been so immediate and extreme that Abbott has garnered substantial pushback even from state Republicans. State Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on Tuesday attacked Abbott’s new policy as “political theater” and “economy killing action.” “Your inspection protocol is not stopping illegal immigration. It is stopping food from getting to grocery store shelves and in many cases causing food to rot in trucks — many of which are owned by Texas and other American companies. … The people of Texas deserve better!”
Abbott’s move seems constitutionally dubious at best. State governors have no authority to regulate or interdict other trade between US states or international trade. He is able to do it under the guise of ‘safety inspections’. But the federal government already does safety inspections. And these are clearly being used to throttle trade which, again, states have no authority to do.
Yesterday Abbott loosened the policy at a subset of border crossings but left most in place.
The U.S. continues to be wracked by supply chain disruptions and inflation. This move seems designed — and well designed — to exacerbate both. Abbott’s calculation, probably accurate, is that he can create chaos and price spikes to pressure Biden and it’s no skin off his back since Biden will be blamed anyway. It’s all gravy.
I had my eyes on this story at a distance. And then I noticed something yesterday. The daily Axios newsletter I get front-paged the story but left out most of what I’ve just described. It presented it as somehow a continuation of the Canadian trucker COVID activism of a few months ago — more “trucker” activism. “The next trucker protest crisis is brewing south of the border, with Mexican truckers blockading bridges amid growing fears over fruit and vegetable shortages,” Mike Allen wrote in his lede.
Sid Miller’s criticism was included, as was the issue of safety inspections. But the fact that this was a crisis created by Abbott for his own political purposes was left out entirely. Just another “trucker protest.” Seemingly more “truckers” protesting Biden himself.
These are truly the days of our discontent. The political climate is bleak, elite DC press corruption is pervasive.