It’s so very important for the GOP and conservative voter to stay focused on the winning issues this year… that being it is, and remains, “the economy, stupid”. The path to winning is one solid plan to propose – a broad, all encompassing energy policy that exploits all US resources to drive down current and futures barrel prices, create jobs and boost revenue, and liberate the US from dependence on crazy, violent Middle East despots and tyrants.
That said, I’m quite sure that the Canadian Free Press’s article will start the stampede to characterize Obama’s latest Executive Order as an intent to seize assets during peacetime, and dole them out to favored private industries (i.e. donors), and declare peacetime emergency martial law on a whim.
Do not… I repeat.. do not fall into this trap.
The EO of subject, NATIONAL DEFENSE RESOURCES PREPAREDNESS, was posted on the WH website Friday. And it’s already got some of the history challenged fringe in the world a’buzz with whispers of doom/gloom and O’imposed anarchy. Thank heavens that both Ace and Ed Morrissey at HotAir have already gotten on the horn to interject some perspective on the EO, and hopefully thwart another foolhardy deviation from the real issues at hand.
To summarize in brief, the order revolves around updating federal government authorities granted under the Defense Production Act (DPA) of 1950, passed under the Truman administration at the onset of the Korean War. It’s purpose was to ensure that the POTUS had the authority to force private industry to give priority to defense and homeland security contracts and to allocate the resources needed in the time of a national emergency.
A number of factors encouraged President Truman to propose such legislation. Both the armed services and the defense industry supporting the nation’s war effort had demobilized during the late 1940s after the cessation of World War II hostilities. With the return of peace, the Administration cut back military expenditures significantly. President Truman accentuated these cuts by placing heavy reliance on atomic weapons to provide for the nation’s defense. The perceived power of the atomic arsenal justified, in the eyes of the Administration, substantial cuts in expensive, manpower-intensive conventional military capabilities. This enabled the President to propose and Congress to pass much-reduced defense appropriations.
In addition, the nation had recently experienced substantial economic and industrial turmoil. Demand for housing and consumer products, unleashed by the expiration of wartime economic controls, precipitated a series of postwar labor strikes. These reached their height in 1946 in a nationwide shutdown of passenger and freight rail service, leading President Truman to threaten to seize control of the railways and draft striking rail workers into the armed forces, placing them under military discipline. Though the presidential threats were never carried out, the strike served to illustrate the economic context in which the nation approached the Korean War.
I might also add that the DPA is a temporary law that must be reauthorized every few years by Congress… and has been done throughout Congresses dominated by either Party over six decades. Therefore if one wants to get into a snit about the DPA – where the central governments powers lie – it would be the time to contact your elected representatives with your beefs.
However, considering how easy it is for conservatives in general to distrust this POTUS, it’s logical to predict that such a power would be abused when considering our current fragile economic conditions. Add to that the Obama gutting of military personnel while ME conflicts continue to flame – and a US still dependent upon that volatile region for our energy – and it’s easy to envision an Obama administration evoking what everyone fears as the worst…. seizure of private assets and picking the winners/losers of private, Obama friendly donors to enrich.
Thus it becomes important to know what this EO can and cannot do, and the history of prior administrations issues similar EOs. As both Ace’s Gabriel Malor and Ed Morrissey point out, this EO is an update to EOs issued by both Reagan and Bush the elder. And if you really want to get into a conspiratorial panic, one need only examine the history of EOs relating to FEMA powers, extending back to JKF’s administration, that outright allows the government to seize absolute control over transportation, communications, all energy resources, food, farms etc. Reading some of those will get even the most passive mind a’broil in fears of anarchy.
But rather than attempt to restate what both Ace and Morrissey have done (see the links above), it does not give a POTUS authority to “nationalize” anything, civilians will not be “conscripted”, or forced into accepting forced employment without compensation, nor does the authority lie only with the POTUS, but is, by the DPA law itself, delegated to various cabinet appointees and agencies.
In fact, this is really as simple as updating the EO for various new agencies created, or shifted powers within the existing bureaucracy. You can read more about the history of authorities, relating to this law, in the National Archives from the House Joint Committee on Defense Production.
All in all, I do expect some of the fallout we saw from the hyperbole over the Defense Appropriations Act passed, that redefined enemies of the US as more than just al Qaeda, and did include American citizens also waging jihad against our nation. Naturally this launched the predictable insinuations that Obama would be empowered to assassinate political enemies on American soil… all of which again made many in our Party look to be conspiratorial extremists.
Now I’m quite sure I’ll be taken to the woodshed on this presentation… and hey, that’s our right of disagreement in this country. But what I hope is that this will not turn into another national kerfuffle, and a dangerous distraction off the election issues where the GOP demonstrates it’s greatest strength. I’m with Ace and HotAir… we have far more effective beefs with the Obama admin than to fall into the trap of blowing this out of proportion for demonization, only to find facts and justified cries of hypocrisy hurdled as return fire.