At President Donald Trump’s coronavirus briefing on Sunday, a reporter challenged him on why he wasn’t yet using the Defense Production Act to take over private manufacturing companies and force them to begin producing supplies needed in the medical field. While Trump has signed the DPA and kept it in his back pocket for the possibility of a major shortage of Personal Protective Equipment and other health care supplies, he has been clear about his reluctance to take such a drastic step.
“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?” asked the reporter.
Trump said that taking steps to limit the free market at a time when the free market is answering the call would be a grave mistake.
“We are using it now. The fact that I signed it it’s in effect,” Trump noted. “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.”
“Here’s the beauty of it,” he continued. “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,” he said. “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.”
Trump’s response is hardly necessary; the media need look only at their own reporting to see why this is an inadvisable route to take. Why, they’ve been hammering the federal government’s response to the coronavirus epidemic from Day One. Not enough tests. Not enough preparation. Not enough of a ventilator stockpile. Not enough assistance to the states. Not enough, not enough, not enough. Well, if the federal bureaucracy is moving too slowly to confront this pandemic…why would we then put efficient, profitable industries under federal government control?
It makes absolutely no sense, and it makes you wonder – not just about the partisan bias coming from these reporters (that’s a given) but about their fundamental intelligence.