State governors are taking to smuggling PPE to get around the feds

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is technically a Republican, in as much as calling himself a "Republican" helped him to garner votes in the western part of the state, which is less Deep Blue than the Metro Boston Area. But as far as I've ever been able to tell, Baker has never demonstrated any capacity for principles or beliefs beyond "being governor." I often like to say that he makes Mitt Romney look like he has a spine. In perhaps the most painfully Boston sentence of my life, I once met him at a Dropkick Murphys fundraiser while he shared a bucket of Coronitas with Mike Napoli from the Red Sox, and trust me — he's terrible.

So imagine my surprise when I learned that Baker had recruited Patriots' President Robert Kraft — a frequent Trump ally who was recently connected to a sex trafficking scandal in Florida —  and essentially commandeered the football team's private jet to fly to China in order to obtain the vitally necessary PPE (including N95 masks) that was otherwise being denied to the state by the spiteful federal government.

From The Boston Globe:

The journey began, in the governor’s telling, roughly two weeks ago, when the federal government confiscated a shipment of more than 3 million N95 masks at the Port of New York and New Jersey that Massachusetts had arranged to buy.

"I just started reaching out to anybody and everybody I knew, trying to find some other path,” Baker recounted in an interview.

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Trump administration considers a centrally planned economy to deal with coronavirus

The Trump administration is reportedly considering the possibility of re-implementing the Defense Production Act. Originally  enacted during the Korean War, the Act essentially empowers the President to control the means of production—the idea being that it would be in the interest of the nation's defense to force private manufacturers to focus their production efforts on things that would benefit the country in a time of tenuous resources.

From Reuters:

A White House official confirmed that the administration was exploring the use of the law to spur manufacturing of protective gear. Both the DHS official and the White House requested anonymity to discuss the issue.

“Let’s say ‘Company A’ makes a multitude of respiratory masks but they spend 80% of their assembly lines on masks that painters wear and only 20% on the N95,” the White House official said. “We will have the ability to tell corporations, ‘No, you change your production line so it is now 80% of the N95 masks and 20% of the other.’”

“It allows you to basically direct things happening that need to get done,” the official added.

In other words, it's precisely the kind of government-controlled economic planning that Republicans have warned would happen under a Democratic-Socialist administration. Except in this case, it's good. Because they're the ones doing it.

U.S. mulls using sweeping powers to ramp up production of coronavirus protective gear [Ted Hesson and Alexandra Alper / Reuters]

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