PJM: It’s Barack Obama's Fault There’s a Shortage of N95 Respirator Masks

https://pjmedia.com/trending/its-barack-obama-fault-theres-a-shortage-of-n95-respirator-masks-heres-why/

I’m not keen on blaming the prior administration for anything, but this story does provide a data point for those hoping to understand the current N95 mask shortage. Spoiler alert: We drew down the national stockpile during the Swine Flu epidemic, and never replaced it.

BTW, if you don’t like PJM for some reason, you can skip, instead, to the sources on which the article is based using the internal links.

53 thoughts on “PJM: It’s Barack Obama's Fault There’s a Shortage of N95 Respirator Masks

  1. Lame!

    Your professed reluctance to blame the previous administration is something you should have followed.

    Congress spends money. Not the President. Obama’s proposed budgets were regularly rejected and Congress never approved the funds needed until now. Trump has been the man for three years now. He and the Republicans found room for a trillion dollar tax cut for billionaires but no room in the budget to stock up on pandemic supplies. That’s the fact.

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    1. What’s your problem, Don Quixote? I said, “WE drew down the national stockpile during the Swine Flu epidemic, and never replaced it.”

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      1. Why didn’t the present administration replace it if it was depleted? It had three years and tons of warnings per your PJM article links to the LA Times.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “Why didn’t the present administration replace it if it was depleted?”

          I don’t know, and why does it matter?

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          1. Why does it matter?

            Because the loser Trump is trying to shift the blame for his own failures onto his predecessor and people like you eat it up. People interested in the truth don’t like to see lies poisoning our discussions.

            The headline did not say WE used up our stockpile. It said it is Obama’s FAULT for the current problem. Not true.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. RE: “The headline did not say WE used up our stockpile.”

            No, it didn’t, but I did.

            Can’t see with your own eyes, eh, Don Quixote?

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          3. @Roberts

            “Can’t see with your own eyes, eh, Don Quixote?”

            Actually, I can and if your memory is not failing maybe you remember adding the headline to your posting. It is in the big letters at the top of the screen. See it now?

            And give up pretending that this is just informational about what WE did.
            You made it clear that it was about blaming Obama in the headline YOU posted and the text that YOU wrote. (“I am not keen . . . BUT”)

            Liked by 1 person

          4. RE: “You made it clear that it was about blaming Obama in the headline YOU posted and the text that YOU wrote”

            I always include the headline, exactly as written by the source. I don’t write them myself because that would be editorializing someone else’s work.

            The windmill you are tilting at is not a giant, Don Quixote.

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          5. @Roberts

            Just like Trump.

            “I did not do what I did.”
            “I did what I did not do.”

            In this case, you posted an effort to blame Obama for Trump’s failures and are trying to pretend you did not.

            By the way, your attempt to stick a derogatory label on me with the Don Quixote business is a flop.
            First, it leaves you with the role of the stubborn, implacable, dumb and inanimate foe – the windmill.

            Second, DonQ is a heroic and admirable figure fighting for truth and beauty and against evil even if his eyesight was poor.

            Liked by 1 person

          6. RE: “In this case, you posted an effort to blame Obama for Trump’s failures and are trying to pretend you did not.”

            No. As introduced, I posted an article containing a data point of interest to “those hoping to understand the current N95 mask shortage.”

            RE: “Second, DonQ is a heroic and admirable figure fighting for truth and beauty and against evil even if his eyesight was poor.”

            I couldn’t have satirized your comments better.

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          7. @Roberts

            “In this case, you posted an effort to blame Obama for Trump’s failures and are trying to pretend you did not.”

            “No, I did not.”

            Your denial of this obvious fact is demented.

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  2. Interesting story. Let’s look a bit closer at the LA Times link from PJM.

    “The stockpile drew down about 100 million masks during the 2009 epidemic, Johnson said.

    “Our association is unaware of any major effort to restore the stockpile to cover that drawdown,” he said.

    “Last month, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that available supplies included just 12 million N95 masks and 30 million surgical masks, a tiny fraction of the 3.5 billion masks one of Azar’s deputies later testified the nation’s healthcare system would need.”

    So my questions are these:

    If Azar knew that we would need 3.5 billion masks, then first of all, is 100 million shortage almost a rounding error? Azar knew we needed 35 times that.

    Second, would it not be at least Azar’s job to make sure the stockpiles were refreshed on his watch for 3 years or so?

    Especially, as per the same link:

    “The GAO, public health experts and others issued a steady drumbeat of warnings that America would sooner or later face a widespread infectious disease outbreak or a major bioterrorism attack and was woefully unprepared.

    In both 2018 and 2019, U.S. intelligence agencies issued insistent warnings in their annual Worldwide Threat Assessment.

    “We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support,” the 2019 report noted.”

    Honestly, with all those warnings to the administration, getting a count on the stockpile is not rocket science.

    But, of course it is another opportunity to blame anyone and everyone but the people who are actually in charge. Health and Human Services has that title for a reason.

    OK, both Bush and Obama cut the budget for the stockpile. I’ll accept they shouldn’t have. But if you are warned every year and still wait until a pandemic to see if you have what you need, that is negligence. And we are talking about the man in charge of public health. Trump’s appointee.

    Still the buck just never leaves the Oval Office no matter how hard Trump tries to pass it on.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Why blame Obama instead of Trump?

      Well, aside form him being the one who drew down the supply, so had to know it was low, Obama wasn’t distracted with an ongoing impeachment effort from the day he was elected.

      Democrats cannot escape the blame for 3 years of partisan confusion in Congress. At some point, it had to have a price, and here it is. They purposely made all levels of government dysfunctional hoping their allies in the partisan media could spare them the blame, but that hand has been overplayed and is falling apart.

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      1. Don, Clinton was harassed for 6 years with a investigation that went from land deals to blue dresses to impeachment. Gingrich did all he could to play my way or the highway.

        Our government functioned just fine.

        Trump created his own crises by his unacceptable outbursts, insults, threats and God knows what else.

        I don’t buy your excuse except if a Trump is a baby who needs coddling.

        Read my answer to Roberts. It quotes the LA Times article PJM referenced. Yes, Obama drew down the masks. But Trump and his appointed deputies never heeded warnings or even bothered to check what we had. For 3 years. Plus what Obama drew down was a pittance compared to what Azar said we needed.

        If you bought a building, would you wait until there is a fire to see how the sprinkler system worked?

        What you are saying is that because Bush and Obama cut funding for emergency stockpiles that clears Trump after 3 years. If it had been about a plant a tree program I could understand. But the annual intelligence assessments have warned for years about needing to be prepared.

        How would you feel if we got attacked and our DOD found that our ammunition was gone? Blame the past presidents?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Your problem is you are looking for special dispensation to criticize Trump uniquely. You make a big deal out of Trump being in office for three years with no relevant action taken, ignoring Obama’s eight years of knowledge of the same problem, with no relevant action taken.

          That’s not enough to make your case that Trump is somehow especially to blame for the “shortage” of N95 masks. If you want to be taken seriously in making that case, you’ve got some research to do. Specifically, what prevented the prior administration from acting? And did the same thing prevent the subsequent administration from acting? If not, what was different?

          No amount of “I must be right because the facts are fishy” reasoning can support you in this.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. @Roberts

            We would not be discussing this if Trump and his apologists were not busy trying to shift the blame for the government’s failures to Obama. By floating this lame excuse, Trump invites scrutiny of what he did and did not do. It is really that simple.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. RE: “We would not be discussing this if Trump and his apologists were not busy trying to shift the blame for the government’s failures to Obama.”

            You would not be acting paranoid about “blaming Obama” if only you accepted the fact that the shortage of masks arose from not replacing the stock that was depleted on Obama’s watch.

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          3. @Roberts

            Here is a simple bit of Constitutional lore for you . . . The House of Representatives decides what the government can spend and what it can spend it on. Obama failed to convince the Republican Congress to spend more on Health and Human Services. Trump failed to even try to convince them to spend more on HHS or that stockpile.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. If it was OK for Obama to draw down the supplies, and not replace them for 8 years, but Trump should have replaced them in three, while juggling all the obstruction and confusion the Democrats could throw at him, you are saying that you expect a great deal more competence from Trump than you did from Obama.

          I do too, I just give Trump the respect due that greater competence.

          And Obama will always be the ‘short bus’ President.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. We will never agree on this.

            Both you and Robert come up with the same explanation: if Obama did it, so can Trump.

            Two things that really irk me about this crisis and Trump
            .
            “I take no responsibility” for any problems we are having with this crisis, particularly my HHS response.

            “I knew all the time this was a pandemic”.

            The first means we have no president. After over 3 years he still has no idea what is going on in our government and what his job is.

            The second is criminal. If he knew, why wait 2 1/2 months to take admit the pandemic and start scrambling for supplies, try to alleviate financial disaster for Americans, etc.

            If we were invaded from Canada, would waiting 2 1/2 months to tell us and start mobilizing troops be acceptable?

            Please stop with the impeachment excuse. He found lots of time to play golf, visit his resorts, and attend endless rallies.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. @Tabor

            Please share, WTF is a “short bus” President? I think I get it, but I would like to believe that you are not really THAT crass. And frankly, that stupid.

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          3. Obama has been the worst President in our lifetimes, edging out Carter before his first term ended.

            Everything he did has to be undone, and indeed, much of Trump’s success has been simply that, repealing Obama’s executive orders.

            Obama created and armed ISIS by taking out Gahdafi. and gave away the store on trade agreements. He wrecked the health care system in a way that it cannot be put back together as it was.

            He was simply a fool with power, and we will pay the price for decades.

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          4. “Obama has been the worst President in our lifetimes, “…

            One man’s EXTREMELY misguided opinion based on his hatred for the man, not just his policies. And if you say otherwise, I refer you back to your “short bus” comment. That is probably one of the MOST juvenile things you have said here.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. I think the ‘short bus’ characterization is apt.

            We all wanted to see him do well and made excuses for him when everything he did failed miserably.

            So, we smiled and said, ‘he’s really trying, bless his heart.’

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          6. Hateful rhetoric does NOT change the fact that Trump has been inept and incompetent from day one. Yet there you go, pointing the finger back 12 years and blaming Obama for all of Trump’s failings. You have learned well form the master. Did you blame the hygienist when an abscess developed after you did dental work on a patient?

            And the short bus comment remains juvenile and beneath someone who professes to be an arbiter of civility. As someone who grew up in the time when the “short bus” was the developmentally disabled mode of transportation to and from school and the cruelty of telling someone they should be on the “short bus” indicates how grown up you are.

            Liked by 1 person

          7. “So, we smiled and said, ‘he’s really trying, bless his heart.’”

            And that is not what was said. What was said was to make him a one-term president. When that failed, it was not to allow him any legacy. When THAT failed, the GOP ended up with the eraser-in chief, who has tried to remove ALL, that Obama did, good or bad.

            So take you pat on the head, he’s trying comment and put it where it belongs: On the trash heap.

            Liked by 1 person

          8. @Tabor

            I was already aware of your extremist, fact-free opinions about President Obama. I was referring to the choice of the words “short bus” President that made the words “crass” and “stupid” come to mind. I have not seen that expression but as I suspected and after using the Google, it appears to be a bit of derogatory slang for people afflicted with handicaps. Is that how you express yourself?

            Liked by 2 people

          9. @Tabor

            Your hatred of Obama really has pushed you over the edge.

            I’m reminded of Robert Duvall’s epic breakdown as Frank Burns in the movie MASH.

            Liked by 2 people

          10. I’m reminded more of Captain Kirk asking why God needed a space ship.

            Some of us are not so easily fooled. Obama was a popular catastrophe, but a catastrophe nonetheless.

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          11. “I just give Trump the respect due that greater competence.

            And Obama will always be the ‘short bus’ President.”

            Your complete and total lack of resepct for Obama has been overtaken by your idolatry of all things Trump. I find that hypocritical and disgusting. But NOT surprising.

            Liked by 2 people

          12. RE: “Both you and Robert come up with the same explanation: if Obama did it, so can Trump.”

            FOUL! Can’t speak for Dr. Tabor, but I have said nothing of the kind. You are letting Trump hatred run away with you to the point of seeing things that aren’t there.

            Let me repeat: If you intend to blame Trump for the mask shortage, you have two hurdles to overcome:

            1) Find out why neither administration replenished the stock.

            2) Find out whether the reasons were the same or different.

            Without this informtation, your criticisms of Trump are, frankly, just foolish blather.

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          13. @Tabor

            My lest favorite Star Trek, but one of its best lines.

            Even as a Conservative I viewed Obama as a solid “B” President.

            Calling him the worst when it’s obviously not true just undermines any legitimate criticisms that you could make.

            Liked by 2 people

          14. @Tabor

            Here on planet earth . . .
            The Presidency of George W. Bush was a catastrophe.
            The Presidency of Donald J. Trump is a catastrophe.

            In between was the Presidency of Barrack Obama which was the polar opposite of a catastrophe.
            Even if the Obama failings you decry were real – they are not – they do not come close to the havoc wrought by his predecessor and successor.

            Liked by 2 people

      2. @Tabor

        More than usually laughable. Those evil Democrats. They are responsible for Trump’s failures.

        Partisan confusion in Congress? Making government dysfunctional? You seem to have forgotten that the GOP controlled the House for the first two years of Dear Leader’s tenure and they still have an iron grip on the Senate. And Trump has sole responsibility for the Executive Branch. How could you forget these simple facts? What is up with that? TDS? Or simple senility?

        Your post is no surprise. I have been expecting this silly argument . . .
        “Bwaaah! I wouldn’t be such a fuck up if they had not impeached me.” – DJT

        Liked by 2 people

      3. …”3 years of partisan confusion in Congress.”… Who was in the majority in BOTH houses of Congress from Jan 2017 til Jan 2019? I’ll remind you if need be.

        Your delusion is getting worse by the day.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m always baffled by the constant reference to the Democratic House being the reason the trump Administration has been so ineffective.

          Two years of COMPLETE control and all they managed to do was stuff corporate pockets and destroy our trust in Government.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. In this rush to pass the blame to Obama for Trump’s many failures on the pandemic, it might help to have a better understanding of what the “stockpile” we are discussing actually is. It is the Strategic National Stockpile (“SNS”) of medical supplies. Masks are a very small part of what it stockpiles.

    https://www.phe.gov/about/sns/Pages/default.aspx

    Democrats in the House tried to add $12 Billion over and above Trump’s requested FY2020 budget for HHS and that included and additional $300 million for SNS funding. For reference, Trump’s proposed budget for SNS for FY 2020 was $620 million.

    https://homelandprepnews.com/countermeasures/33832-house-committee-appropriators-approve-300m-more-in-funds-for-strategic-national-stockpile/

    Bottom line – This is the TRUMP administration. Not Obama’s.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s good information. Now we need answers to the N95 mask questions specifically:

      • Why were the masks not replenished under the prior administration?

      • Why were the masks not replenished under the current administration?

      • Were the reasons different or the same?

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      1. @Roberts

        If you read with understanding the answer to these questions is almost self-evident. The SNS has a very wide mandate and a very limited budget. Masks are a small part of what they stockpile. Congress did not provide enough money – even though the Democrats tried in the FY2020 budget to provide a lot more – to buy all the materials needed.

        I do not know what the government pays for an N95 mask but having the billion plus that would be desirable would consume their ENTIRE budget for several years.

        The blame that attaches to Trump is NOT the level at the beginning of this crisis. It is the 6-8 week delay in trying to do something serious about it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “the answer to these questions is almost self-evident”

          “Almost self-evident” isn’t good enough. We need documented cause and effect, not just convenient assumptions.

          RE: “I do not know what the government pays for an N95 mask but having the billion plus that would be desirable would consume their ENTIRE budget for several years.”

          Prior to Covid-19, the masks were selling for less than $1.00 per each.

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          1. @Roberts

            “Prior to Covid-19, the masks were selling for less than $1.00 per each.”

            According to Trump’s HHS we need about 3.5 billion of them. So, using the figure that you provide and assuming that a purchase of 3.5 billion to put in storage would not influence the price that would come to $3.5 billion. The FY2020 Trump budget for ALL of the supplies in storage is $620 million. You can do the math from there.

            Again, the Congress decides what to spend. Trump blaming Obama is nonsense. Article blaming Obama that you post here are nonsense.

            The blame that belongs to Trump is the 6-8 week delay in doing something about these inadequate supplies once he knew a pandemic was forming. And, he says he knew before anybody.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. According to your own link, Azar said we needed 3.5 billion masks.

        Obama drew down there supply by 100 million. Even if he replaced all 100 million, we would still be 3.4 billion short.

        Now if Trump said he knew it was a pandemic long before anyone else, why not get ready then?

        Simple question. If we were invaded by Canada, would we wait 2 1/2 months while listening to the administration lie and his media giant perpetuate the lie up until 10 days ago.

        Your “I take no responsibility “ president is finally telling the truth with that phrase.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. “ FOUL! Can’t speak for Dr. Tabor, but I have said nothing of the kind.“

        You posted an entire article from PJM blaming Obama. So I think I was correct in my statement.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. RE: “According to your own link, Azar said we needed 3.5 billion masks.”

          Azar’s estimate was based on the pre-Obama, Bush-era report on pandememic readiness. In other words, the material requirement, technically speaking, was known to both the current and prior administrations. That is the puzzle you need to unravel to be able to make credible criticisms of the current administration over N95 masks.

          RE: “You posted an entire article from PJM blaming Obama. So I think I was correct in my statement.”

          No. You accused me (and Dr. Tabor) of saying, “If Obama did it, so can Trump.” That’s your foul.

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          1. That was my assessment of your excusing Trump for the same failure you attribute to Obama.

            I was not wrong, obviously. If my turn of phrase did not meet your linguistic standards of purity, then so be it.

            But really the issue is much bigger than blaming Obama. The question is were we prepared under Trump’s leadership. And why did he know, or say he knew, about a probable and serious pandemic early on, but told the public otherwise until March 13, a full 2 1/2 months after China announced to WHO the virus issue.

            I have yet to hear from conservatives about that obvious lapse in trust and leadership.

            This is indicative of how the current administration handles a real crisis. And that is crucial. Is it proactive or reactive? Is it telling the truth to all Americans from the very beginnings, or just select congress members in closed door hearings? Are critics taken seriously in the face of evidence or are they called “snakes”.

            When this mess ends, and the economic “cleanup” starts up, it would be in our nation’s interest to hold the administration to account and review as to whether we can rely on them in the future.

            The majority of the voters, by far, are Democrats and Independents. And it is the second group that Trump and his party have to convince about trust.

            IMHO

            Liked by 2 people

  4. In the name of civil discourse let me add this. It matters not who’s fault it is at this point. What matter is what is being done to correct it?

    We are taking too much time discussing tit-for-tat who to blame. That does not solve the situation. It just adds to the anger and frustration. And there has been enough of that. – IMHO

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    1. How come Tat gets all the tit? And who is Tat?

      One of life’s great mysteries.

      “T, t, t….Tat’s all folks.” 🐷

      🙉🙊🙈

      Sorry, evidently I need to get out more. Now that I can physically, I have no place to go.

      (No whining, I am luckier than most. Just observing.)

      So, how about Tat?

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      1. You either need to lay off the pain pills or the booze (ABC stores get to remain open, Thank G-d). And I am sure the fresh air will do you a world of good. PLEASE!!!

        As far as tats on tits, I am not opposed to them, provided they are tastefully done and peek JUST above the top of the scoop. Now tits that ARE tats, well that is distasteful on principle alone.

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