The White House had been preparing on Wednesday to announce amid an escalating pandemic that a joint venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems would begin producing as many as 80,000 desperately needed ventilators when word suddenly came down that the announcement was off.
The decision to cancel the announcement, according to government officials, came after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it needed more time to assess whether the estimated cost was prohibitive — more than $1 billion, with several hundred million dollars to be paid upfront to General Motors to retool the car parts plant in Kokomo, Ind., where the ventilators would be made with Ventec’s technology.
The shortage of ventilators has emerged as one of the major criticism of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus. The need to quickly equip hospitals across the country with tens of thousands more of the devices to treat those most seriously ill with the virus was not anticipated despite the Trump administration’s own projection in a simulation last year that millions of people could be hospitalized. And even now, the effort to produce them has been confused and disorganized.
At the center of the discussion about how to ramp up the production of ventilators is Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House aide, who has told people that he was called in two weeks ago by Vice President Mike Pence to produce more coronavirus test kits and who has now turned his attention to ventilators.
He has been directing officials at FEMA in the effort. Two officials said the suggestion to wait on the General Motors offer came from Col. Patrick Work, who is working at FEMA. Some government officials expressed concern about the possibility of ordering too many ventilators, leaving them with an expensive surplus.
Yes, if there’s any risk that must be avoided at all costs right now, it’s having too many ventilators!
The cost that the president’s idiot son-in-law and moronic colleagues are balking at is $1.5 billion. To put that in perspective:
The federal government’s planned $2 trillion economic rescue package includes financial aid for individuals and industries that are struggling to survive the coronavirus pandemic.
It also includes a potential bonanza for America’s richest real estate investors.
Senate Republicans inserted an easy-to-overlook provision on page 203 of the 880-page bill that would permit wealthy investors to use losses generated by real estate to minimize their taxes on profits from things like investments in the stock market. The estimated cost of the change over 10 years is $170 billion.
Republicans are what their record says they are. It takes a great deal of effort to avoid the obvious, but a lot of even well-informed people are determined to.