10 Ways Trump Could Use His Power for Good, Not Evil

Here’s 10 ways Trump could be using his powers under the Defense Production Act and other laws for good, not evil

I spent weeks in the Congressional Record from the 40s and 50s (when these powers were granted) so you wouldn’t have to

My latest @thenation (thenation.com/article/politi…)

  1. The DPA grants so-called “priorities and allocation” powers. We’ve seen Trump use the priority power to make sure that federal contracts jump to the top of manufacturers’ queues and the allocation power to limit exports. But he could be nationalizing the medical supply chain. During the Obama administration, the White House asked agencies to draw up “DPAS” (defense priority and allocation system) plans, and most basically hand waived the latter part of that away, seeming to suggest they’d never use it so why bother. (federalregister.gov/documents/2015…)
  2. We’ve read the stories about how federal agencies’ reliance on outdated software programming languages is causing backlogs in getting stimulus checks. Trump could use the DPA to force Big Tech to allocate 50% (or more) of its coders’ time to fix this. (washingtonpost.com/business/2020/…)
  3. We know the climate crisis is looming right behind this pandemic, and each could make the other worse. The DPA has special energy provisions that could allow us to move forward on decarbonization. Yet another way to do green stimulus! (jacobinmag.com/2020/04/green-…)
  4. The DPA also allows the executive branch to issue loans, loan guarantees, procurements, and subsidies to keep critical industries going. Trump has only used a fraction of these powers, and weeks too late. We could be publicly financing health innovation on a massive scale.
  5. Under the DPA’s voluntary Civil Reserve Airforce Fleet and Intermodal Sealift Agreement, airlines and carrier ships agree to put themselves at the government’s disposal in emergencies, in exchange for the government’s using their cargo services during normal times. With normal commercial travel ground to a halt, now is the time to turn our transportation networks into a relief organization for those that need it the most. (undp.org/content/undp/e…)
  6. Everyone’s worried that their favorite small business won’t survive this crisis, and that they’ll be gobbled up by mega firms that have cash stockpiles. Under the DPA, we could be organizing a Small Business Defense Squad to coordinate and fight back.
  7. The DPA also allows the WH to create a National Defense Executive Reserve that puts business leaders with niche expertise directly into agencies. Tired of tech bros floating dumb ideas during the crisis? Deputize them to process stimulus claims instead! (newsweek.com/martin-shkreli…)
  8. Amazon workers on the frontline need more pay, and it appears CEO Jeff Bezos — the world’s richest man, is getting even richer off of the pandemic. The original DPA allowed price and wage controls. Congress could reauthorize that to check abuses. (salon.com/2020/04/16/jef…)
  9. Ditto for rent control. The original DPA protected tenants and mortgage holders, and federalized the response. Some localities are trying to address this problem, but face steep hurdles in doing so effectively — since lenders are often national. (washingtonpost.com/local/dc-polit…)

10. Finally, the DPA isn’t the only game in town. @BrennanCenter has identified 123 powers that are triggered by emergency declaration, including an expanded safety net for armed forces. (brennancenter.org/sites/default/…) Congress could expand that to cover ALL essential workers, including hospital and grocery workers. It ain’t Medicare for All, but it’s a start — and keeps with the tradition of how new benefits tend to get created in the US of A. (hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?is…)

Interested in more? Head over to @TheNation to read the whole spiel. The tl;dr: Don’t let a crisis go to waste! (thenation.com/article/politi…)

(Adapted from this thread.)



Director, Industrial Policy & Trade, Roosevelt Institute / Roosevelt Forward. Teach, Johns Hopkins. PhD. Political scientist researching economic transitions.

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Todd N. Tucker

Director, Industrial Policy & Trade, Roosevelt Institute / Roosevelt Forward. Teach, Johns Hopkins. PhD. Political scientist researching economic transitions.