March 27, 2020

According to this story in the New York Times this morning, there are several contradictory reports about why the administration suddenly halted plans to have GM retool a plant to produce as many as 80,000 ventilators.

Some sources told the Times FEMA needed more time to see whether the billion-dollar cost was prohibitive. (It was a lot less than the tax breaks they just gave to real estate developers, by the way.)

They also claim an initial promise that the joint venture between GM and Ventec Life Systems could quickly turn out 20,000 ventilators had shrunk to 7,500.

But GM says the only thing missing was "clarity from the government about how many ventilators they needed — and who would be paid to build them."

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.

A spokeswoman for FEMA said Colonel Work presented information on each contract in such meetings but did not make any recommendations. A White House spokesman declined to comment.

In other words, FUBAR. While people are dying. And Jared is adding his own special touch, easily identified by the trademark shifting of blame. Way to go, guys!

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