Yesterday, Donald Trump signed the Defense Production Act as a back-up measure, in case of a breakdown in production of critical supplies. “”Hopefully there will be no need,” Trump later tweeted, “but we are all in this TOGETHER!” The measure is in place only for “a worst case scenario in the future.”
This morning, Nancy Pelosi and fifty-six other House Democrats said that the worst case scenario is already upon us. In a statement released to the media this morning, Pelosi demanded that Trump take control over domestic production to address shortages in the first weeks of the coronavirus pandemic:
What precisely is Pelosi demanding? ABC News outlined the parameters of the DPA, and it’s basically authority to impose a wartime command economy:
The executive branch, under this law, can essentially dictate industry production and force companies to sign contracts telling them how to allocate materials.
The president can also impose wage and price controls, settle labor disputes and control consumer and real estate credit, among other authorities given by the law.
The DPA was passed during the Korean War in 1950, and it has been used sporadically since then.
“It was based on lessons learned by the U.S. in the early days of World War II when massive mobilization of industrial resources and control of raw materials was required,” said Steve Ganyard, an ABC News contributor and former deputy assistant secretary of state.
It’s a very broad and nearly dictatorial power, one that should truly be a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency authority. Are we there yet? We are facing momentary shortages in some critical items, including masks and ventilators, as well as hospital space for an expected wave of seriously ill Americans. However, we only just identified those gaps, and thus far we have no real evidence that we can’t fix those through normal economic incentives, such as premiums for production and delivery.
In fact, US automakers are already offering to shift production to medical equipment to meet those gaps:
Rosie the Ventilator Maker? General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO reportedly suggested to top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow, the automaker could build hospital ventilators while its plants are idled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking on Fox News Wednesday, Kudlow said he spoke with executives from two of the three Detroit-based automakers, then apparently alluded to Barra when he explained, “one of them told me even while the men and women may be off for two weeks due to the virus she’s gonna try to call them back so they can produce ventilators and they might even ask them to do it on a voluntary basis for civic and patriotic reasons.”
GM spokesman Pat Morrissey confirmed to Forbes that Kudlow was referring to Barra explaining, “still very early, but she did tell the administration it was something we were exploring….still very early in the process, but she indicated we could help, and we were beginning to look into it.”
General Electric, one of the main sources of ventilators, has already begun expanding its existing production, as well as stepping up on other medical lines:
GE on Thursday said its healthcare unit is expanding its manufacturing capacity in order to roll out not only more ventilators, but also more patient monitors, CTs, ultra sound devices, and mobile X-ray systems.
GE’s announcement comes with federal and state governments scrambling to buy more medical equipment to deal with a growing surge of seriously ill coronavirus patients, with rising concerns that ventilator capacity could fall short as the crisis deepens.
“To help address this global challenge, we have increased our manufacturing capacity and output of equipment … while also taking steps to ensure safe operations for our employees,” said Kieran Murphy, president and CEO of GE Healthcare.
In order to boost ventilator production, GE has added manufacturing lines and now has shifts working around-the-clock to produce this vital piece of medical equipment. The Boston-based company said it is also hiring additional manufacturing workers and shifting employees from other units to help out as well.
The best way to get fast production of these necessities is to let the manufacturers proceed as unhindered as possible. We are not actually fighting a war, after all, and access to raw materials is unchanged except to the extent that sick personnel slows it down. Only in an extremity of resources, labor, and distribution should a president be given command-economy authority, and we are not there yet. We are not even close to being there.
Finally, this is a rather ironic demand coming from the same politicians who just spent the last several months warning that a failed impeachment would allow Trump to become a dictator.
Dear Nancy please check in to the mental ward of the Hospital your suffering from a mental disorder called Liberal Democrat Stupidity
Seeing your quote about how private businesses are making ventilators reminded me about how private citizens are using their 3-D printers to create spare parts for broken ventilators and…
that private businesses in the perfume industry have switched to making alcohol based gel hand sanitizer.
Nancy P would have never even thought of these solutions.
That’s the genius of incentive in the private enterprise system.
They really can pump the brakes on one thing then swap over to another on a dime.
It’s just political. If things go south, they’ll say Trump should have done what they wanted…then the words “botched”, “incompetent”, “fail” will be thrown about as a reason for him to either be impeached or just not re-elected.
Have to take the House away from Pelosi, in November…
I suppose this depends if you believe “the worst case scenario is already upon us” or perhaps, that it’s snowballing at warp speed and the outcome will be as bad as 1918 (as a private tape of Richard Burr in Feb now revels). If you believe that, it’s hard to think you’d reject Pelosi’s suggestion (other than of course, pure partisan hatred overriding any thread of morals or critical thinking you may have.)
If you don’t believe that, that everything is under control and the next sunny day will eradicate the virus in its tracks, well, then Pelosi is out of her mind.
Indeed it is. Our nation faces an existential crisis… a REAL one… and we have half of the government cheering for the crisis. Whatever she does from here on out notwithstanding, Pelosi and her Democrats have been a despicable embarrassment. That, of course, includes the liberal media.
So, Democrats were all over this and clamoring for action and plans way back before Trump ever took action… WHY are they only just now asking for these emergency powers? Why didn’t they demand them February 1st? Well, we know why; because they had not one single clue this was developing and were far too interested in what their next impeachment proceeding was going to be about.
It appears that idiots like Schumer and Pelosi are finally getting pressure from constituents and are cutting down on the idiotic prejudiced bias. Hopefully it turns into an epidemic as well.
@Ronald J. Ward: Sometimes all you have to do is ask, having government employees run a company you get Venezuela. 3M was given the go ahead to release respirator masks to the medical community, the builders who use them for dust are donating what they have in stock to hospitals.
I would hope hardware stores will also step up.
We are a generous people willing to pitch in and help.
@kitt: Are these DIFFERENT evil, greedy industrialists than those we’ve heard of all these years?
I’m sure manufacturing would gladly step up and even be well compensated for their efforts. But this is going to take presidential and/congressional influence to make happen. And in the event they couldn’t produce accordingly, other actions may be needed, if of course, you see this as a deadly pandemic and economic emergency.
I agree American have always pulled together. Pearl Harbor saw mass military enlistments, 911 saw a nation pull together with even near the 90% rallying behind the president. And like 2009, neighbors were helping neighbors.
But this is a whole new ball game. We can’t even go out and support local business because they’re closed. We can’t check on our elderly neighbors as we do in snow storms for fear of endangering them. Many who normally donate are now out of work or their business shut down.
Not being pessimistic as ultimately we’ll be fine and that American spirit will prevail. It’s just unexplored territory.
@Ronald J. Ward: Yes they will be compensated so after this is over they like Chrysler making jeeps in WW2 the can retool and get back to normal. What Pelosi was suggesting was not helpful or constitutional.
@Ronald J. Ward:
Apparently, all it takes is for Trump to ask.
Great observations. Really.
We have far better medical care, equipment and medicines than they did in 1918.
So, we should be able to keep the numbers infected under the curve of what our medical system can stand.
But that’s with cooperation from all political leaders.
Just today we learned that 60,000 homeless in CA alone might get this disease.
CA’s medical system would be overwhelmed if that happens.
Also, 50% of all US cases are in 10 Counties!
Either some people are super-infectious or went to work at nursing homes infectious and spread it. One can be infectious before having symptoms, so it doesn’t mean it was on purpose.
Then there are those who encourage passing the disease on purpose. A Democrat who hoped she would get it then go to Trump rallies (too late.)
A Pakistani, who was sick but ignored the order to stay at home and took a job delivering food, caused a hot spot of 200 infected all from him.
Seizing the means of production is a PERMANENT solution to a TEMPORARY problem.
@Nan G: And notice the “dictator” Trump is reluctant to pull that trigger unless absolutely necessary (many industries are voluntarily pitching in). How quickly do you think Hillary would have moved to control industries? Oh, we dodged a bullet…