State and city leaders have revealed that they are having to bid against each other for crucial medical supplies like ventilators and surgical masks because Trump won’t put into action the Defense Production Act which would steady prices.
On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo led a chorus of leaders asking Trump to start nationalizing the system to allow the federal government to buy the supplies then distribute them fairly to where they needed to be.
In order to do that, Trump must tell the manufacturers behind the supplies to make what the country needs, then buy them from them and divvy them up.
He has not yet done that, saying he does not – as the president – want to interfere with businesses and their freedoms to produce what they see fit for the market.
On Sunday night, he said: ‘We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business. Call a person over in Venezuela.
‘How did nationalization of their businesses work out? Not too well.’
According to The New York Times, he has been advised against it by the Chamber of Commerce which believes businesses need to be able to remain nimble and able to adapt – without being subject to government restrictions – during such uncertain times.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker have complained about the bidding war they are in for vital equipment
But governors and mayors are crying out for it, saying they are being priced out of getting what they need.
Cuomo revealed that N-95 masks – which cost 85 cents to buy before the pandemic – are now being sold for $7, an increase of 823 percent.
Not only are the states having to bid against each other, but they are also having to bid against FEMA , representing the federal government- and all the foreign governments still trying to cope with their own coronavirus crises.
‘We have been scrambling. We’re buying from China, we’re buying from all across the world.
‘Can I say that we’ll have enough equipment for next week? The week after? I can’t say that, and that’s out of our control. That’s where we’re going to need the federal government.
‘To have states competing with other states, to find these equipment, bidding against other states, driving the price up, masks that we paid 85 cents for we are now paying $7. Why? Because California is bidding, Texas is bidding, Illinois is bidding, it makes no sense.
‘The federal government much nationalize the equipment production and supply issue,’ Cuomo said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the ‘opportunism’ at play was ‘disgusting.’
‘I’ve been hearing stories last few days from my Emergency Management team where they expected millions of masks to come in and they had to tell me that somehow we got outbid somewhere else in the world and they’re going someplace else.
Among the items that are now more expensive are N-95 masks which are now being sold for $7 each as opposed to 85 cents each before the pandemic
‘The price gouging that’s happening here and, bluntly, the opportunism by some, is disgusting.
‘So, there’s not now a national mechanism for ensuring and there has to be. And I talked to the president, vice president about this.
‘There has to be a national intervention by the federal government to say, okay, here is the place first that needs the ventilators and the masks, here’s second, here’s third.
‘And that’s where they’re going to go. Not an open market based on who can spend the most money and make the quickest deal.
New York is at least are at the top of the list to receive supplies because it has the highest number of cases in the US.
Donald Trump is under mounting pressure to enact the Defense Production Act
Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker told Today that he was having to bid against the other states too.
‘With all due respect to the surgeon general, the truth is that I was on the phone yesterday talking to companies and here’s what I ran in to.
‘In one case, we’re competing for ventilators with FEMA so Illinois is bidding for ventilators against the federal government.
‘In another case, were bidding against foreign countries and other states and so what’s happening to, not just on ventilators but all the PPE that we need, prices are being ratcheted up and we’re competing against each other on what should be a national crisis where we should be coming together and the federal government should be willing to help us.
‘We’re willing to pay retail prices for the things we need but the federal government needs to say to all the companies in the US that produce these goods, that they’re going to buy them all together and distribute them across the states,’ he said.
Gov. Pritzker called the situation ‘just wrong’.
Trump is resisting telling the companies what to produce.
Instead, he has credited those who have offered to help without being instructed to, like Amazon.
There are now more than 41,000 cases of coronavirus in the UK and 576 have died
Cuomo, in his first press conference of the day, said it did not make sense given the current crisis.
‘California offers $4, I offer $5, another state piles in and offers $6.
‘It’s not the way to do it. Why are we competing? Let the federal government put in place the federal defense act. All it does is say to a factory, you must produce this quantity.
‘It cant just be, “hey who wants to help? ‘Let me know.”
‘We need to know who is going to produce and when…you can’t run this operation that way – it can’t just be based on we’re waiting for people to come forward on offers.
‘Yes, it’s the government telling private businesses what to do. So what? This is a national emergency. You’re paying them,’ he said.