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Trump playing politics with a stockpile of equipment states desperately need

Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

[Regarding this story: Desperate for medical equipment, states encounter a beleaguered national stockpile]

This story buries the lede a bit, offering statistical support to a narrative that’s already evident by listening to Trump, i.e., the federal government is playing favorites between the states, offering stronger support to states that are key to Trump’s reelection.

N95 masks:

Maine requested a 500,000, received 26,000
Florida requested 180,000, received 180,000

The problem with the numbers is that they’re anecdotal — the federal government won’t release any figures, so the reporters went to the recipients. But at the very least there appears to be no objective criteria determining why State X gets help and State Y doesn’t. So it’s not possible to line up the requests and compare.

If the determining factor really is which states show the most “appreciation” to Trump, as Trump has outright stated should be the case, it would indicate (once again) Trump’s willingness to extort a personal benefit (personal praise and withholding of criticism) in exchange for government benefits that aren’t his to withhold. Just like with Ukraine, he’s running the federal government like a mob boss.

New York City presently accounts for approximately 1/4 of all US cases (New York State half), but there’s no way in hell New York City is going to receive 1/4 of the available federal help. Trump has no hope of winning votes in NYC — we’ve known who he is since the late 1980s. But you can bet if New York City voted like Ohio, heaven and earth would be moved to bestow whatever federal largesse wasn’t nailed down.

It reminds me a bit of the federal terrorism preparedness spending after 9/11, where states as remote as Idaho feasted on the federal dime at New York’s expense, on the idiotic notion that terrorist threats were just as likely to occur there as here. Pork barrel politics trumped common sense.

Our present moment is obviously quite different from 9/11 inasmuch as the entire country is going to eventually go through what NY is going through in its own manner, especially those areas that adopted Trump’s casual posture since February, casually dismissing calls to self-quarantine and behave as if you’re already viral. It’s a fluid situation, as opposed to an event, an assessment, and a response.

But when the bell starts tolling for Mississippi and Texas — both states’ Republican governors have dismissed the risk and taken lax measures in response — watch how fast the federal dollars and equipment flow there and elsewhere, because the president needs their votes.

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