Ted Cruz has come forward and placed pressure on President Trump to use The Defense Production Act to our collective advantage right now. He wants Trump to force companies to start mass-producing ventilators. While we can all understand the argument in favor of this, it is surprising to hear it coming from Ted Cruz, of all people.
Cruz looking to implement a wartime economy is surprising when you stop to consider the fact that he is typically aligned with smaller government. On the issue of ventilator manufacturing, he is willing to take a stand but there are efficiency questions that need to be answered first.
If Trump is giving these types of orders to the private sector, are we actually going to get more ventilators? Are they going to be able to manufacture them quickly? Unfortunately, we have very little reason to keep the faith. There is nothing that the federal government has done lately that will inspire any sort of confidence in their ability to handle a crisis.
How can we honestly believe that they are going to move to end this crisis in a faster manner that private interests will? Ted Cruz emerging as a voice of reason is not something that we saw coming. He’s one of the few members of Congress that seems willing to acknowledge the seriousness of the virus, instead of downplaying it at every turn.
If nothing is done, the nation is going to be facing a ventilator shortage. The public health threat that is currently taking place is not going to solve itself. Cruz makes a great point when he says that we need to be taking the right steps on the front end, so that we are not forced into a truly impossible situation on crisis’ back end.
The Defense Production Act is one of the best resources that we have in these types of scenarios. This law was put into place during the Korean War era. The federal government is given the power to impose certain orders on private industries when the nation is in need of crucial items.
If a leader is effective, the necessary equipment is produced in a more efficient manner because the orders are coming from a singular authority. For example, China was able to build a wide range of hospitals essentially overnight when they were in need of additional housing for their coronavirus patients.
The White House has yet to show that they can function in such a manner. They do not know exactly how many masks and ventilators are needed at various hospitals. It is hard to make the necessary decisions when there is no data to work with. If they knew more about the places that needed the most assistance, they would be able to streamline supply and demand far more easily.
In this situation, the White House comes across as more of a gelatinous mass with very little harmony. Does the left hand always know what the right hand is doing? It is hard to answer that question in the affirmative. Lots of companies are looking to step forward and help out but they cannot receive a straight answer from anyone who is connected to the Trump administration.
The confusion is widespread, keeping private industries from being able to assist. Corporate executives are facing a wide range of requests and several nations find themselves in need of various supplies. The White House has yet to even establish a priority list for deliveries. The states and cities that are currently getting hit the hardest do not know if they are going to be able to receive the assistance they require.
By avoiding The Defense Production Act, Trump is doing his best to avoid the personal responsibility for the shortages that are already taking place. Unless the government is willing to make purchasing guarantees, private industries are not going to crank up their production lines. The economy is in free fall and manufacturers cannot afford to make major investments without these assurances.
Governors have already pressed Trump on the issue. He claimed that they could purchase their own and ask for reimbursement later. This mentality creates a sizable amount of confusion and no one seems to know who is actually going to make things happen. This is obviously not ideal when the nation is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis.
We suspect that the White House will handle this in the same way that they have been: very slowly. Don’t be surprised when you see the mayors of major cities on television next week taking Trump to task when they do not have access to the proper medical equipment.