GOP Rep. Palmer: Trump’s Early Acts Lessened Coronavirus Impact — Calls to Incentivize U.S. Businesses to Diversify Supply Chains
Representative Gary Palmer (R-AL), the chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, argued when the time is right, the U.S. government should explore ways not to be as reliant on countries in the other hemisphere for manufacturing.
Palmer offered those remarks during an interview that aired on Huntsville, AL’s WVNN, noting it was not just pharmaceuticals threatened by China in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic but other essential elements required to make American technology function.
“I’ve been saying for a long time that we are putting ourselves in serious jeopardy by having a single-source supply chain in one country,” Palmer said. “And I would say that if it were any other country, particularly China. I mean, most of these flu-type viruses come out of China. From my perspective, it was just a matter of time before something came out like this. But the other thing is China is not our friend.”
“It’s not just the pharmaceutical supply chain that has been fully exposed and putting things in jeopardy,” he continued. “It’s things like rare earth metals that are necessary for your smartphone and your computers — even the avionics on our fighter jets. China is the only place to get them. I started talking about this a while back, probably two or three years ago and was particularly focused on the rare earth metals and things like that. But also in the last few weeks, I started pitching the idea that we need incentivize businesses to diversify their supply chain.”
Ideally, the Alabama Republican argued the supply chain would exist in countries with which the United States was aligned.
I would prefer they bring it back to the U.S., or at least the Western Hemisphere — to countries that are our ally. I think that’s what you’re going to see — some accelerated plan for giving accelerated depreciation tax credits to help move these supply chains back to this country,” Palmer added.
Palmer was not critical of Trump’s response to date on the coronavirus but instead complimentary. According to Palmer, had Trump not taken an aggressive tack toward China, the United States might be worse off in dealing with coronavirus.
“The fact that the president took on China the way he did early on — people construed that as a trade war,” Palmer added. “Really, what it was doing was confronting China’s long-term ambitions to become the dominant superpower in the world. And that’s why they were spending all this money in the Belt and Road Initiative, doing all this infrastructure in these countries. Italy, by the way, was the first European Union country to sign on with China in letting China build out their infrastructure. And they refused to shut off travel in and out of China — and now they’re a dumpster fire over there with the virus. The president took on China, and as a result of him cracking down on the trade issue, a lot of companies had already transitioned away from China.”
“I think this could have been a lot worse than it is going to be because of that,” he continued. “And I know for a fact that the president was engaged on the coronavirus early because as part of Republican leadership — we had lunch with on January 27 at the White House. And he had been on the phone with [Chinese President] Xi Jinping, and Xi Jinping assured him they had the virus under control. And then the president had wanted to send some of our folks in from the CDC. Xi Jinping wouldn’t allow that. It was just a few days later the president banned travel into and out of China. I think he got a tremendous amount of criticism, was called a racist and xenophobes. He did exactly the right thing, and I think again there it lessened the impact this could have been.”
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor