Hero Trump Gets Underwear Companies To Make Masks Out Of THREE LAYERS Of Underwear!
Don't worry, you guys, Trump has GOT THIS! Using a potent cocktail of several dozen tweets and one market-tanking presser a day, the president has just about licked this whole coronavirus thing. So, back to work everyone, gotta do your part to restart this economy before November!
No, not really. This whole thing is a shitshow, we're quickly running out of medical supplies before the wave even begins to crest over us, and the person in charge of this is ... yeah, it's Jared Kushner. Coooooooooool.
America has a law on the books meant to deal with this very supply chain issue. Since the Korean War, the Defense Production Act (DPA) has empowered presidents to order private companies to prioritize production to meet wartime need. Senators and governors from both parties are desperate for the White House to use the DPA to get ventilators, face masks, gloves, and other protective gear into hospitals instead of forcing states to bid against each other for supplies.
"Don't get into this mad bidding war," warned New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, noting that competition between the states has driven up the price of surgical masks from $.85 to more than $4 in some instances. Later he added, "Currently, when states are doing it, we are competing against other states. In some ways, we're savaging other states. I'm trying to buy masks. I'm competing with California and Illinois and Florida."
California Governor Gavin Newsom is furiously trying to source hundred of millions of face masks and eye guards, including sending chartered flights to China to pick up supplies, while frankly acknowledging that smaller states are shit out of luck if they're bidding against a huge, wealthy states like California which "punches above its weight." (He's asked to centralize the process, through the National Governors Association, so small states don't all die, because Gavin Newsom is not a monster.)
Even Trump's BFF Lindsey Graham is hitting the panic button, warning the president to invoke the DPA right fucking now to prevent disaster.
"Anything that can provide relief to the frontline troops, do it. I would go all in right now. All in," he said. "Be all in on the medical supply front."
And yet, Donald Trump has reservations.
"We're a country not based on nationalizing our business," Trump said, after the US Chamber of Commerce persuaded him that he could use his overwhelming charm and great, manly hands to convince companies to step up to the plate without being coerced. Which kind of works, at least up to a point. The federal government has sourced 800,000 nasal swabs, needed for CV-19 test kits, from Italy, and worked with manufacturers directly to get some fraction of the personal protection equipment needed into state hospitals. But, as the Times reports, companies aren't jumping to ramp up production in a rapidly deteriorating economy without explicit purchasing guarantees from the federal government.
(To be clear, the DPA permits the government to pay companies to produce these essentials, not just seize their factories. And even that is somehow ... Venezuelan?)
And SURPRISE, simply waving airily at multinational corporations to give them "the go ahead" to produce medical equipment doesn't magically make it happen.
"General Motors, Ford, so many companies — I had three calls yesterday directly, without having to institute like: `You will do this' — these companies are making them right now," Trump said Sunday at his daily DOW-killer. No, none of these companies is making ventilators "right now." That's just Trump's usual bullshit, like the "4 million" test kits which are always coming "next week."
Elon Musk, who sourced 1,255 ventilators for California, is currently working to see if Tesla can produce ventilators. But retooling a Ford plant in Michigan? That's not something that can happen overnight, and frankly, only an idiot would expect a capitalist company, beholden to its shareholders, to undertake an expensive conversion of an auto plant to meet a temporary need. Although Ford, to its credit, says it should be able to work with GE to produce thousands of ventilators ... BY JUNE.
But the White House's pet economic crank Peter Navarro did manage to get textile companies Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, and Parkdale Mills to make surgical masks out of three layers of underwear fabric, so don't say the White House never gave us anything, ya haters!
"It's not something you're going to wear in the operating room," Parkdale Mills CEO Andrew Warlick told the Times. "But you've got people out there today — it's kind of pitiful — wearing bandannas and everything else."
Feel that battle rhythm!
And so the governors are on their own, trying piecemeal to get supplies wherever they can, because it's beneath the federal government to be the shipping clerk for states in a global pandemic.
But wait, BREAKING! FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor told CNN this morning that the feds have finally starting using the DPA to secure supplies for Americans. Hosanna!
"We're actually going to use the DPA for the first time today," Gaynor told CNN's John Berman, "There's some test kits we need to get our hands on. We're going to insert some language into these mass contracts that we have for the 500 million masks." Which is odd, since the president tweeted thirty minutes before that that he hadn't needed to use the DPA since companies were just falling all over themselves to fulfill his "back up to States" wishlist.
That's weird! Almost like Donald Trump doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. Or maybe inserting that clause to get a whole 60,000 test kits in a face mask contract, when New York state alone is conducting 10,000 tests a day, was a rounding error that escaped the Dear Leader's notice. Yeah, probably that one.
SLOW FUCKIN' CLAP.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.