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Just when you think they can't possibly find a new way to fuck it all up, the Trump administration goes and outbids state governments on sales of face masks and sterile gowns for hospital personnel dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Oh, we wish we were kidding! But, nope. Here's Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on a phone call with Trump yesterday.

BAKER: We took very seriously the push that you made previously on one of these calls, that we should not just rely on the stockpile and that we should go out and buy stuff and put in orders and try to create pressure on manufacturers and distributors. And I gotta tell you that on three big orders we lost to the Feds.

So, my question is, could you give some of these guys some guidance that says, the states are doing what the Feds want, trying to create their own supply chain on this, and that people should be responsive to that? Because, I got a feeling that if someone has the chance to sell to you or to sell to me, I am going to lose on every one of those.

And then Trump chuckled. FOR REAL. Because, what could ever be funnier than the federal government making it harder and more expensive for the states to get their hands on personal protective equipment (PPE) in a highly contagious viral pandemic?


We are old enough to remember when Trump told the states to get their shit together and stop relying on the Feds to supply them with everything. Because we are exactly 22 hours old.

TRUMP: The federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we're not a shipping clerk. The governors are supposed to be — as with testing, the governors are supposed — are supposed to be doing it.

We'll help out, and we'll help out wherever we can. And we can buy in volume and, in some cases, great volume — with the masks, as an example, which were really a problem. We have helped out, and there are right now millions of masks being made. But this is really for the local governments, governors, and people within the state, depending on the way they divided it up. And they'll do that, and they're doing a very good job of it

It was YESTERDAY, just a little while before that phone call, when Trump lectured the nation's governors to man up and quit running to Big Daddy Central government to help them keep American citizens alive. And it was SIX WEEKS AGO when virologists in Seattle tried without success to get the CDC to approve the University of Washington's coronavirus test kit. But go off, Poppy about states needing to pull their own weight!

A rational person might argue that the federal government, with its vast negotiating power, should go out and bulk purchase enough supplies for all the states, instead of making them bid against each other to see whose front line medical personnel will be spared having to tie bandanas around their faces as makeshift masks. Indeed, after Trump stopped laughing, he acknowledged as much, saying, "Prices are always a component of that also. And maybe that's why you lost to the feds, OK, that's probably why." Ya think?

A rational person might also wonder when Trump is going to get around to invoking the Defense Production Act, as he promised on Wednesday, to conscript businesses into ramping up production to meet the coming medical demand. Because there's not a huge margin in bulk PPE sales, so companies may not actually be lining up to bid on it.

But then that rational person would smack himself upside the head for thinking such dirty, socialistic thoughts. The market, in its infinite wisdom, will provide!

After New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said that her state had also been outbid on PPE by the federal government, Mike Pence jumped in to assure the callers that it wouldn't happen again. So anyway, no harm, no foul, right? This is all going GREAT.

[Press Conference Transcript / Bloomberg]

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Liz Dye

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.

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