During President Trump’s daily Coronavirus Task Force update on Sunday, a reporter challenged him about why he wasn’t taking over businesses and industries under the Defense Production Act.
Last week the president signed the DPA, a 1950 act by Harry Truman, that allows government to dictate to companies what they should make to help the country, usually in times of war and national emergencies.
In signing the measure, the president put the country on a war-footing against the “invisible enemy,” as he calls it.
But Democrats are upset that the president hasn’t taken over industry and forced them to manufacture needed items.
During the Coronavirus Task Force update Sunday, a reporter asked President Trump, “We know governors across the country are pleading with you to utilize the DPA. Why not use it now if that would answer their pleas?”
The president’s response should be used in every Econ 101 class from now on. Even in the never-before-seen over-the-top U.S. reaction to the National Emergency, Trump calmly advised restraint because, basically, capitalism works. There are companies making ventilators, masks and other supplies.
He explained by saying he signed it but hasn’t had to use it yet. It’s possible he may have to invoke it to smooth supply chain needs, but so far he has not needed it. And here’s why: because he doesn’t have to.
“We are using it now. The fact that I signed it it’s in effect. But you know, we’re a country not based on nationalizing our businesses. Call a person over in Venezuela and ask how did nationalization of their businesses work out – not too well. The concept of nationalizing our businesses is not a good concept.”
Trump explained that the government doesn’t know everything. It couldn’t possibly begin picking companies to make certain items because they may not have a clue how. He says companies with know-how are calling him and offering to make what the country needs:
“Here’s the beauty of it. If we go out and we say we want masks, we don’t know who to call on masks. Hanes – that makes things of cotton, various elements, lots of things, great company – called us and said we’re going to make millions of masks. We got a call today from 3-M … they’re going to make tremendous products; they’re more or less in that business and if they’re not – for instance General Motors spoke to us, Ford spoke to us about doing ventilators. The beauty is they’re calling us. If you go the nationalization route, we’re going to tell a company to make a ventilator. They don’t even know what a ventilator is. In the case of one company, they used to make them years ago and they know how to make them. It’s a very complex piece of equipment…”
While Lefty news outlets report that using the DPA isn’t nationalism per se because the country can contract with companies, that still forces the company to bend to the command of the government. It may not be nationalism by these news sites’ lights, but it isn’t capitalism, either. And it’s certainly not freedom.
The media and their political party, the Democrats, are demanding the president default to a takeover of industry to fight the virus. Trump even says he’s been getting pressure to do so but won’t because “the beauty of it” is what he’s doing right now works:
“So it’s really working out very well. That’s why I gave you the numbers. We’re taking it out of our supply and we’re re-stocking our supply. We are backing up our governors. The governors have to go out and do their thing and you have a lot of governors and they’ve done a fantastic job. And some that haven’t. Usually the ones that complain are the ones who haven’t.”
Trump so far is using a light touch on companies. Let’s hope he keeps it that way. Emergencies like this have a tendency to entice politicians into wielding more control over individuals in the country and end up keeping those policies long after the immediate threat is over. See our response to 9/11 for an example.
We’ve seen government doing enough strong-arming of people trying to conduct their lives by sending police to break up groups on beaches and in parks and trails.
Paying for bailouts and backstopping industries will be painful enough. Please don’t throw away our value of freer markets amid the Left’s hysteria.