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“It’s Our Stockpile. It’s Not for the States”, Says Kushner

Trump's Disgraceful War With Governors in the Midst of a Pandemic

As the first week of April ended, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who has apparently added medical supply logistics to his vast portfolio, announced that the Trump administration has made off with the Strategic National Stockpile as its own:

“[T]he notion of the federal stockpile was, it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”

The country is its 50 states, DC, and territories. When was the stockpile "not supposed" to be for the states? Whom, now, is the stockpile for? Who is "our"?

This president has shown a stunning attitude toward the states grappling with the coronavirus — and before it is predicted to become far worse. He has shown outspoken skepticism about the states' estimates of what they will need. What does he plan to do with "our" — now his — stockpile. Is he planning magnanimous gifts to other countries at cost to our own? Does he want to abandon this country and compete with the largess of China's headman, Xi Jinping, who is waging a public relations campaign to win the world to his side (see "China's moment" story) by helping other nations.

The president has devised a theory that the stockpile is not meant to protect the country in accordance with the federal government's primary role. His fellow Republicans consider the government's job to be little other than defense. That's what the federal Health and Human Services website said in an archive search by the Associated Press:

The “Strategic National Stockpile is the nation’s largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out. When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency".

That mission has since vanished from the agency's website which now says the stockpile is only to be a short-term backup for states, filling in only when they run out. All 50 states, always lacking of money, are to build their own stockpiles, each vast enough to cope with a pandemic, apparently.

This is the culmination of what Trump has been hinting, that it is up to the states to grapple with a national emergency on their own. Washington is meant to play more of a supporting role.

diy

As this is written, New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo reports that China is about to deliver 1,000 ventilators to his state that the governor or his aides had to seek out and order direct, given Trump's hoarding. Oregon volunteered to send 140 ventilators to a desperate New York City. The owner of the New England Patriots loaned the team plane to the state of Massachusetts to pick up over a million masks from China. Russia has sent medical equipment to the U.S. Canada is shipping gloves and testing kits. But Trump has said he'd prevent the export of N95 protective masks to Canada and other nations. Even if eventually we have surplus?

The president said he’d like to hear a more resounding “thank you” from Cuomo for providing medical supplies and added hospital capacity as if these are gifts from Trump himself . “We have given the governor of New York more than anybody has ever been given in a long time," he said at a news conference. Well, yes! It's a pandemic! He doesn't realize that it is his job to assess what each state needs and get it done as best possible with no thanks due. It's defense of the nation.

lock them up!

Behind all this seems to be the aphorism that "a thief thinks everyone is a thief", revealing how Trump thinks. Governors dealing with hot spots in their state, most notably Cuomo, needing protective gear for medical personnel and ventilators for the coming onslaught of patients, have been pleading with the federal government for help. Odd that Trump, who professes wealth in the billions of dollars, has trouble grasping quantities in thousands that governors are requesting. He hears such numbers and believes that "something is going on", airing his suspicions more than once — and in public. On March 26th he said,

"I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they're going to be. I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go into major hospital, sometimes they'll have two ventilators, and now all of a sudden they're saying, can we order 30,000 ventilators…and you know they'd say, like Governor Cuomo and others, they'd say, 'we want 30,000 of them' — 30,000! Think of this. You go to a hospital. They'll have one in a hospital and now all of a sudden everybody's asking for these vast numbers."

At a subsequent briefing, "PBS NewsHour” reporter Yamiche Alcindor, whose digging for facts Trump has called "nasty", brought this up:
Alcindor: “You've said repeatedly that you think that some of the equipment that governors are requesting, they don't actually need. You said New York might not need 30,000".
Trump: “I didn’t say that.”
Alcindor: “You said it on Sean Hannity’s Fox News.”
Trump: “I didn’t say — come on.”
He did say that.

A few days later — March 29th — in his daily Rose Garden briefing, he went one worse, accusing hospital personnel — those unbelievably courageous people who are risking their lives in the midst of horror — of theft:

"They've been delivering for years 10, 20 thousand masks. OK, it's a New York hospital. It's packed all the time. How do you go from 10 to 20 to 300,000 — 10 to 20 thousand masks to… three…hundred…thousand!, even though this is different. Somethin's goin' on, and you ought to look into it as reporters. Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door?...I would like them to check that because I hear stories like that all the time... We're delivering millions and millions of products and all we do is hear can you get some more. So I think people should check that because there's something going on. I don't think it's hoarding. I think it's maybe worse than hoarding."

Mr. Trump seems strangely detached from the states, the United States, over which he presides, as if they don't belong here and should take their problems elsewhere. “Some of these governors take, take, take and then they complain,” Trump groused to Sean Hannity on Fox News. As for Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, “All she does is sit there and blame the federal government”. Washington's Governor Jay Inslee, who has so far successfully contained the nation's first outbreak, "should be doing more, he's always complaining”, says Trump. Like Cuomo, both are Democrats. “You know, we don’t like to see the complaints”, Trump said. He wants governors “to be appreciative” of the federal government’s efforts because “we have done a hell of a job.”

Not according to governors. They made clear in a conference call with Trump that the federal government isn’t doing enough. "We are way behind the curve on test kits,” Inslee said, speaking for all on the call. The president doesn't seem to know that by common consensus — and the fact that he is Commander in Chief — that the federal government's primary job is to protect the country — a country consisting of states — in time of war. Trump declares himself a wartime president but hasn't yet realized that we are at war with a deadly invader.

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