New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared on CNN’s State of the Union this Sunday with a clear message: She believes Donald Trump may “cost lives” because he hasn’t yet invoked the Defense Production Act. That act, as a refresher, is essentially an emergency production order that would move companies in the U.S. to produce medical equipment that would go toward helping hospitals and clinics battle the coronavirus pandemic. And has been made abundantly clear, medical workers need these supplies—now.
Trump has been unclear and inconsistent on whether he plans to, or already did, invoke the act, but as the head of FEMA, Pete Gaynor, said in another Sunday show bit today, Trump has apparently not yet done so because the federal government is relying on donations. Why in the world would Trump not invoke the act already? As my colleague Hunter suggests, the administration, after firing countless experts, may simply be frozen under the pressure of not knowing what to do. Meanwhile, the general public fends off a pandemic.
Jake Tapper opened his conversation with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez by asking her what she’s heard from constituents, including healthcare workers, in New York City, which is currently being slammed by the virus.
“One of the things we’re hearing over and over again from hospitals, again, is this point on personal protective equipment. There are not enough face masks, gloves, ventilators, hospital beds to get us through this. Many hospitals are already at capacity or approaching capacity,” the progressive leader replied.
For Ocasio-Cortez, relying on companies volunteering to help out with equipment is simply not going to cut it. “Companies are donating what they can. That is great,” she stated. “That is not enough. And the fact that the president has not really invoked the Defense Production Act for the purpose of emergency manufacture is going to cost lives.”
Tapper referred to Gaynor, who suggested that invoking the act wasn’t yet needed. “First, we were hearing it was a hoax. Then we were hearing that everything was fine. Then we were hearing that the fundamentals of the economy was OK, until the crash comes,” Ocasio-Cortez replied. “We cannot wait until people start really dying in large numbers to start production, especially of more complicated equipment like ventilators and hospital beds.” She stressed that it’s about getting ready now, referencing a possible “surge” in the next two to three weeks.
Here are those clips.
“We cannot wait until people start really dying in large numbers … we need to start this production right now to get ready for the surge that is coming in two to three weeks.” -Rep. @AOC reacts to Pres. Trump not enforcing the Defense Production Act. #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/sENJMXfHkC
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) March 22, 2020
Ocasio-Cortez also talked about the economic relief proposal she supports. Her key point? Instead of giving relief to big corporations, let’s focus on individuals and, especially, low-income people. And the biggest way to help? Give direct money, yes, but also pause the payments that tend to crush people anyway.
“There is no reason for corporate bailouts to be included in an emergency relief package,” she said to Tapper. “We should be focusing: Is unemployment expanding? Are we getting checks in people’s hands? Are we suspending mortgage, rent and debt payments? If we’re able to do that, if we’re able to get money into households, and stop the bleeding with pauses on money going out of households, then we can get working families through this thing.“
It’s a great point—giving people money is something, but if people essentially “bleed” that same money out on debts, it’s just a bandaid on a wound.
Here’s that clip.
.@AOC to Jake Tapper on type of emergency relief plan she supports: "It stops payments. It halts mortgage payments, rent payments, & all major consumer debt. That's the key, b/c when you're able to stop the money going out, then that money that you do give goes a much longer way" pic.twitter.com/khzi6s99ot
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 22, 2020