Monday, April 13, 2020

Trump And Republican Senators Enact A Charade To Trick Americans Into Thinking Trump Is Acting Competently And Medical Supplies Are Readily Available (He Isn't & They Aren't)

And here we are.

Republican senators are lying to the media about the amount of supplies they are getting from the federal government. While their states are receiving a small fraction of what they need, the senators are saying publicly that Donald Trump is super-awesome for sending them exactly what they need. It is a massive charade enacted to (a) trick voters into thinking Trump is acting competently and (b) boost the support for Republicans in danger of losing at the polls in November.

In yet another case of projection, Trump accuses Democrats of "playing politics" during the pandemic while he denies life-saving supplies to "blue states" he knows he cannot win in November and redirecting those essential supplies and equipment to "red states" as a reward for Republican governors flattering him with excessive praise.

With Republicans, it's only about appearances — and, of course, publicly fluffing Trump.

Aaron Rupar, Vox, April 13, 2020:
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump has been using lifesaving medical equipment as a way to score political points for Republicans at risk of losing their seats in November.

On Friday evening, Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) became the latest Republican senator to trumpet the federal government sending fewer ventilators than are needed — and that were promised — to her state.

"Huge news for Arizona," tweeted McSally, who lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in 2018 but was subsequently appointed to the Senate seat vacated by the death of John McCain. "I spoke with @realDonaldTrump on Wednesday afternoon to request additional ventilators from the Strategic National Stockpile. Today, POTUS delivers with 100 ventilators headed to AZ. Thank you to President Trump and @VP for hearing our call."

To be clear, with more than 3,500 confirmed coronavirus cases and growing in Arizona, the federal government coming through with 100 ventilators is preferable to none at all. But it's also worth examining how McSally's announcement isn't all it's cracked up to be.

The state of Arizona, led by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and Health Services Department Director Dr. Cara Christ, initially asked the federal government for 5,000 ventilators. That ask was approved by federal officials. But Arizona's request was dramatically downsized to just 500 ventilators last week as it became clear that the federal government didn't actually have the resources to follow through on its original agreement. By ultimately sending 100, the feds are fulfilling just 2 percent of what they initially agreed to send and only 20 percent of the request the state made just last week.

So while Ducey praised Trump for his "urgent action and real leadership" in sending ventilators to Arizona and thanked McSally for "advocating for these ventilators and helping to make this happen," the Associated Press reported that the shipment "falls far short of the number originally approved by federal officials for Arizona and is just one-fifth what the state's top public health official said is needed quickly." ...

Trump has made it clear that avoiding criticism is a viable path to receiving what tools a state needs. During an interview with Fox News late last month, he responded to Democratic governors like Andrew Cuomo (NY), Gretchen Whitmer (MI), and Jay Inslee (WA) criticizing his coronavirus response by describing his relationship with blue state leaders as "a two-way street."

"They have to treat us well, also. They can't say, 'Oh, gee, we should get this, we should get that,'" Trump added.

Trump took things up a notch by telling reporters he had directed the official running the White House's response effort, Vice President Mike Pence, to not call Inslee and Whitmer — even as hospitals in each of their states approached the point of being overwhelmed by coronavirus cases — because they aren't "appreciative" enough of his efforts.

"When they're not appreciative to me ... It's not right." ...

Last month, the Post reported that while staunch Trump ally Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis "promptly" received all of the supplies he asked for from the federal government, states with Democratic governors, such as Wisconsin and Illinois (not to mention New York and Michigan), were not having the same luck. ...

Also of concern is the appearance that Trump is using the equipment in a bid to help the campaigns of imperiled lawmakers like McSally. ...

CNN broke news on April 3 that the federal government swooped in and blew up a deal that Colorado's state government, led by Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, made with a private company to acquire 500 ventilators. FEMA, instead, seized the ventilators for itself, leaving Colorado high and dry. ...

The Denver Post published a scathing editorial accusing Trump of treating lifesaving medical equipment "as emoluments he can dole out as favors to loyalists. It's the worst imaginable form of corruption — playing political games with lives." ...

Put it together and the picture that emerges is one where the federal government is seizing orders of medical supplies from hospitals and states, and then at least in some instances, redistributing in a way that gives the appearance of Trump doing favors for his Republican supporters. And in a quintessentially Trumpian twist, even the Republicans who reap the rewards of this flawed system aren't getting all that much. It's the Trump University of pandemic responses.

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