The Trump administration has gone from telling governors they’re on their own in fighting coronavirus to sweeping in and taking equipment that state or local governments or hospitals—or other countries—have ordered. From Jared Kushner insisting that “the federal stockpile is supposed to be our stockpile, not supposed to be state stockpiles,” to the federal government preventing states from getting equipment anywhere other than the federal government.
But as the federal government, in the form of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, finally, finally gets ramped up to obtain the amount of personal protective equipment and ventilators that it should have been acquiring in January or early February, it’s repeatedly screwing over states, local governments, and hospitals.
As Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said on CNN, “Either be in or out, folks. Either you’re buying them and you’re providing them to the states and you’re letting us know what we’re going to get and when we’re going to get them, or stay out and let us buy them.”
But that’s not how the Trump administration operates.
“FEMA realizes that prioritizing P.P.E. deliveries to Covid hot spots can have the unintended consequence of disrupting the regular supply chain deliveries to other areas of the country that are also preparing for the coronavirus,” a spokesperson said. But that statement calls on the listener to trust that the Trump administration is a fair broker, sending supplies to where they are most needed rather than to the states that Donald Trump personally favors.
We cannot trust that. We’ve watched as Trump has demanded that governors suck up to him and punished states if their governors didn’t do so, as states like Florida and Oklahoma have gotten as much or more equipment as they asked for while states like Massachusetts, Illinois, and Maine have gotten only a fraction of what they needed. So, no. Hearing that the reason Colorado didn’t get 500 ventilators it was trying to buy is that FEMA got it instead does not instill confidence that those ventilators are going where they are most needed.
We especially cannot trust it when The New York Times reports things like this: “Advisers to Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, have surprised FEMA officials in recent weeks to deploy supplies to communities after the area’s representatives got through to Mr. Trump, even if the state had not yet gone through the formal process to secure supplies.”
The Trump administration continues to run the government according to who sucks up to Donald Trump most effectively and most recently. Right now, it’s doing that through FEMA, to make it look like things are very efficient and regularized. But that doesn’t change the corrupt basic nature of what’s going on.