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Lewis Morris / May 19, 2022

Half of American Infants Depend on the Welfare State

With the baby formula shortage comes other unwelcome news about the sorry state of the American family.

The baby formula shortage is a hard lesson about the inner workings of the federal government, and we should all pay attention. Beyond demonstrating the sheer ineptitude and ignorance of the Biden administration, this crisis has pulled the curtain back on a racket being run by the government at the expense of American taxpayers.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, better known as WIC, began as a pilot program in 1972 and went nationwide three years later. The program assists low-income mothers with infants and children under five and mothers-to-be at nutritional risk. Any mother whose household income is at or below 185% of the poverty line is eligible for this assistance, which comes in the form of direct aid to purchase healthy foods, including whole grain bread and cereal, fruits and vegetables, and, of course, baby formula.

When people ask why there’s a baby formula shortage in the world’s wealthiest and most technologically advanced country, they don’t have to look much further than WIC, which accounts for up to 68% of all infant formula sold in the U.S.

Under the program, formula companies compete for exclusivity contracts by selling their products to the states at huge discounts. Even with 85% rebates, the companies still make money, because they end up with state monopolies. Along the way, stores give prominent shelf space to WIC-approved formula brands, and doctors also tend to recommend these brands to their patients. WIC is thus a behemoth capable of toppling the baby formula market because it currently serves 53% of all infants in the United States.

Or, put another way, more than half of all American babies are on welfare. Let that sink in. (Remember that heinous Barack Obama reelection campaign ad, the one with a fictional character named Julia getting cradle-to-grave assistance from the welfare state? Well, there’s the “cradle” part.)

Since WIC’s creation, the federal government has consistently expanded it in good times and bad. And as with all government programs, it took on a life of its own. WIC now has 1,900 local offices, 89 state offices (wait, aren’t there only 50 states?), and does business with 47,000 retailers.

Expanding WIC is always near the top of Democrat priorities. Never do they contemplate ways to reduce WIC’s massive enrollment or help at-risk mothers become less dependent. For Democrats, “helping women” means encouraging moms to abort their preborn babies or make them and their surviving children wards of the state. All WIC and its leftist supporters can guarantee is that children in the program will be healthy enough to enter public school prepared for 13 years of further indoctrination.

To be fair, there are other reasons for this baby formula shortage. (Sorry, Mr. President, Vladimir Putin doesn’t make this list.) The Trump-era tariffs blocked foreign access to the domestic baby formula market and reduced domestic competition. While sometimes well-intentioned, tariffs often have the unintended, but not unexpected, consequence of weakening the domestic markets they seek to protect.

The FDA also shares blame, because its bloated bureaucracy kept Abbott Laboratories dormant for months while it investigated a deadly bacteria outbreak that led to the deaths of four infants. It turned out that the outbreak wasn’t linked to the company or its products, but the FDA didn’t close its investigation until last week. Abbott, by the way, has a 42% slice of the domestic baby formula market.

But make no mistake: WIC and the Left’s cradle-to-grave mentality are at the heart of this. And that’s what we get when we grant the government so much power over us. When half of our babies are on welfare, it doesn’t mean full speed ahead. It means the program isn’t working.

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