New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks to reporters during a news conference, Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, in New York. After a night of unusual silence, Cuomo made his first public remarks following his victory in Thursday’s Democratic primary, appearing at his office in Manhattan to talk about hurricane readiness and President Donald Trump — and, after prodding by reporters, his big win over Cynthia Nixon.(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
For all the great press Andrew Cuomo is garnering from the tame and stump-broken media, one can’t help but get the feeling that he’s just one event, one tiny push, away from stripping buck naked, rubbing himself in feces and doing somersaults in front of the State House. Not to say that he doesn’t have a challenge on his hands, he does, but he also seems prone to panic and hysteria…like the on then off shelter-in-place order.
The latest iteration of Cuomo-in-state-of-panic came today:
I’m calling on the Federal Government to nationalize the medical supply chain.
The Federal Government should immediately use the Defense Production Act to order companies to make gowns, masks and gloves.
Currently, states are competing against other states for supplies.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 22, 2020
Gov. Andrew Cuomo: "The federal government should nationalize medical supply acquisition." pic.twitter.com/mSvw9JcpLb
— The Hill (@thehill) March 23, 2020
"I'm trying to buy (face) masks — I'm competing with California, Illinois and Florida, and that's not the way it should be honestly," Gov. Cuomo says
Some states are asking the feds to nationalize acquisition of medical supplies https://t.co/s4BRJhg6dF
— KTLA (@KTLA) March 22, 2020
WATCH: "The federal government should nationalize medical supply acquisition," says NY Gov. Cuomo. "We are competing against other states. … Price gouging is a tremendous problem and it's only getting worse. There are masks that we were paying $.85 for, we're now paying $7." pic.twitter.com/AZcQX18hqJ
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 22, 2020
It is difficult to read this and not see that the real agenda here is to try to convince America that the federal government owning the means of production is a good thing.
There are a few things going on here simultaneously other than Cuomo trying to blame other people and destroy the sorta-free-market system we do have.
First and foremost, it is not clear that the Defense Production Act actually allows the president to nationalize industries. The Supreme Court case, Youngstown Sheet & Tube vs. Sawyer, would seem to call into question that premise. While the Defense Production Act can allocate scarce resources and require production of scarce goods, it is a real stretch to read into that act the ability of the federal government to actually allocate resources to states unless the federal government declared that it was going to be the only authorized purchaser of a class of goods and then did the allocation itself.
Getting the federal government involved in this is not going to yield the result Cuomo wants. The only conceivable explanation behind the “competing with each other” statement is that Cuomo thinks New York should get 100% of everything it wants and the rest of the country should, as they say where I was raised, ‘suck hind teat.’ Obviously, other states, either those experiencing a number of cases (like Washington) or those on the cusp of having cases increase (California, Florida, Illinois, Ohio) think they should be able to stockpile in advance of the surge. Any bureaucratic allocation of resources is going to be based on per capita or per patient. Neither method is going to get Cuomo what he wants which seems to be first dibs on everything. If the federal government does get involved, he’s not going to like either the allocation method or the time lag.
The unacknowledged victim here, the one the federal government should protect if it gets involved at all, are private medical practices that are being forced to close because they can’t get supplies that are being hoarded by state governments.
The price gouging crap gets old. A company is allowed to build in its overhead and general and administrative expenses into the price of a product. But if Cuomo thinks the government buying everything and doling it out is going to result in cheaper prices as companies buy machinery and retool plant operations to produce things they aren’t used to producing
he really needs to get out more and see how federal procurement actually works. What he calls price gouging is actually how a market rations scarce items. As more production comes on line, as US suppliers take up the slack from Chinese companies, then prices will subside. But higher prices now is a sign that the market is actually responding.
There are things the government can do, like have the states work cooperatively in placing orders so no one is trying to hog 100% of the production run. But other than that, once the federal government has directed American industry to focus on products for this hysteria, it needs to step out of the way rather than set a horrible precedent of trying to actually control how many items are allocated between state and private sector entities.
It is hard to believe that with $8 billion allocated to the task, plus New York’s own money, that very much competition actually exists. This seems more like a prima donna under a lot of pressure trying to screw over everyone else so he can feather his won nest.