Trump Unleashes on Ford and General Motors with Ventilator Demands


President Donald Trump laid into automaker General Motors on Friday and accused the company of dragging its feet on manufacturing ventilators for health care professionals treating coronavirus patients.

Trump criticized GM CEO Mary Barra on Twitter, claiming her company is moving too slowly as it prepares to produce the much-needed breathing machines and asking to be paid “top dollar” for the equipment.

“As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out,” Trump tweeted.

“They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar.

“Always a mess with Mary B. Invoke ‘P,’ Trump wrote.

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Trump later explicitly threatened to invoke the Defense Production Act to force the company’s hand.

“General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!,” the president added, tagging both Ford and General Motors in the tweet.

Trump added, “Invoke ‘P’ means Defense Production Act!”

The New York Times reported Thursday that the White House had canceled a Wednesday announcement with GM after the company projected it would need $1.5 billion to produce as many as 80,000 ventilators, with much of that money being requested upfront.

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Do you think President Trump should invoke the full powers of the Defense Production Act?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency had urged pausing the agreement and said it needed time to determine whether the GM deal was cost-prohibitive, according to The Times.

The White House did not issue any comment to The Times on the newspaper’s report.

A week ago, GM announced a collaborative effort with ventilator manufacturer Ventec to ramp up ventilator production.

“GM and Ventec Life Systems, in cooperation with, the nation’s coordinated private sector response to the COVID-19, are collaborating to enable Ventec to increase production of its respiratory care products to support the growing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” GM said in a statement.

“Ventec will leverage GM’s logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise to build more of their critically important ventilators. To support these efforts, will continue to unite business leaders across the country to collect resources to complement and support government efforts,” the company added.

Despite an initial project of 20,000 ventilators being produced “in short order,” GM and Ventec now estimate they can only make 7,500 of the machines, according to The Times.

GM and Ventec have been working to retool a factory in Kokomo, Indiana, and the automaker has expanding its workforce to prepare for the logistics of creating the life-saving machines, Fortune reported.

According to The Times, the federal government is examining other proposals after it became apparent GM would not be able to follow through on a pledge to quickly produce tens of thousands of ventilators.

A GM spokesman contended that the ventilator project is moving with urgency, while an unnamed company official told The Times “there’s no issue with retooling.”

“Ventec and G.M. have been working at breakneck speed to leverage our collective expertise in ventilation and manufacturing to meet the needs of the country as quickly as possible and arm medical professionals with the number of ventilators needed to save lives,” Ventec chief strategy officer Chris O. Brooks said.

After criticizing GM, Trump tweeted that the government had purchased a large order of ventilators from other companies and promised an announcement some time Friday about the medical equipment acquisition.

“We have just purchased many Ventilators from some wonderful companies. Names and numbers will be announced later today!” he tweeted.

Trump first announced he had enacted the Defense Production Act on March 18.

The act is a Korean War-era law that gives the president the authority to take action to force American industry to ramp up production of certain critical equipment.

Up to this point, the emergency measure has not been fully invoked, as so many private companies have voluntarily offered to help join the country’s ongoing fight against the virus.

Trump’s comments toward GM are the first time the president has threatened to use the full powers of the act.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.