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Companies Lobbied Trump Not to Use Defense Production Act


<b>Companies Lobbied Trump Not to Use Defense Production Act</b>Donald Trump has been aggressively lobbied by organized private business interests to keep his administration's novel Coronavirus pandemic response relatively passive.
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Under the Defense Production Act, Trump could legally requisition and commandeer any and all materials deemed necessary in the national effort to fight the Coronavirus. The White House has the power and authority to moblize and even coerce companies in the to production of emergency materials like ventilators, N-95 masks, respirators and other forms of personal protective equipment needed by hospitals and the medical staff in the fight of this pandemic that is threatening the lives of millions of Americans. Private industry thus far has not stepped up to meet demand and the White House is currently reluctant to forcing them into doing so. After declaring a national emergency on March 13 due to the SARS-CoV2 pandemic, Trump announced, six days ago, during a news conference, that as part of the United States war against the new and deadly coronavirus COVID-19, he was invoking the Defense Production Act. But he backtracked at the last minute and said he deemed it unnecessary, despite mounting calls for President Trump to use the law to resolve severe equipment shortages. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the heads of major corporations have lobbied the administration against using the act. They say the move could prove counterproductive, imposing red tape on companies precisely when they need flexibility to deal with closed borders and shuttered factories. Mr. Trump and the director of his national economic council, Larry Kudlow, as well as Jared Kushner, were persuaded by those arguments, the Trump administration officials said. Now that the epicenter of the outbreak has moved from China to Europe, the United States is the second country in the Western world with the highest numbers, with 55,000 confirmed cases and 794 deaths, preceded by Italy which has 70,000 cases and almost 7,000 deaths. An  aggressive response aimed at improving the availability of testing, equipment, emergency supplies, hospital capacity, and treatment is paramount for public health and the well-being of Americans. In addition, as long as there is a widespread outbreak and rapid transmission, economic activity will be severely affected. Millions of Americans have already lost their jobs, at a pace that exceeds job losses in the worst weeks of the 2006 Great Recession. Economists forecast unemployment rates as high as 20% in the months to come. Many fear this looks like 1929, when the United States plunged into the Great Depression. Here is what the 1950 Defense Production Act (50 U.S.C. App. § 2061-2171) says: Congress finds that -- (1) the security of the United States is dependent on the ability of the domestic industrial base to supply materials and services for the national defense and to prepare for and respond to military conflicts, natural or man-caused disasters, or acts of terrorism within the United States; (2) to ensure the vitality of the domestic industrial base, actions are needed -- (A) to promote industrial resources preparedness in the event of domestic or foreign threats to the security of the United States; (B) to support continuing improvements in industrial efficiency and responsiveness; (C) to provide for the protection and restoration of domestic critical infrastructure operations under emergency conditions; and (D) to respond to actions taken outside of the United States that could result in reduced supplies of strategic and critical materials, including energy, necessary for national defense and the general economic well-being of the United States; (3) in order to provide for the national security, the national defense preparedness effort of the United States Government requires -- (A) preparedness programs to respond to both domestic emergencies and international threats to national defense; and (B) measures to improve the domestic industrial base for national defense; (C) the development of domestic productive capacity to meet -- (i) essential national defense needs that can result from emergency conditions; (ii) unique technological requirements; and (D) the diversion of certain materials and facilities from ordinary use to national defense purposes, when national defense needs cannot otherwise be satisfied in a timely fashion; (4) to meet the requirements referred to in this subsection, this Act [50 U.S.C. App. § 2061-2171] provides the President with an array of authorities to shape national defense preparedness programs and to take appropriate steps to maintain and enhance the domestic industrial base; (5) in order to ensure national defense preparedness, it is necessary and appropriate to assure the availability of domestic energy supplies for national defense needs; (6) to further assure the adequate maintenance of the domestic industrial base, to the maximum extent possible, domestic energy supplies should be augmented through reliance on renewable energy sources (including solar, geothermal, wind, and biomass sources), more efficient energy storage and distribution technologies, and energy conservation measures; (7) much of the industrial capacity that is relied upon by United States Government for military production and other national defense purposes is deeply and directly influenced by -- (A) the overall competitiveness of the industrial economy of the United States; and (B) the ability of industries in the United States, in general, to produce internationally competitive products and operate profitably while maintaining adequate research and development to preserve competitiveness with respect to military and civilian production; and (8) the inability of industries in the United States, especially smaller subcontractors and suppliers, to provide vital parts and components and other materials would impair the ability to sustain the Armed Forces of the United States in combat for longer than a short period.

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