The issue is the utility of the DPA in manufacturing testing supplies for COVID19. Governors have said again and again that more supplies for testing are need. You ask…
Answer (from the citation which you have kindly provided):
a) The law also allows the president to designate materials to be prohibited from hoarding or price gouging
In essence, the materials must be delivered at a fair price. Personally, I have never heard of a manufacturer going backwards on a federal contract.
b) The second section, authorizes the president to establish mechanisms (such as regulations, orders or agencies) to allocate materials, services and facilities to promote national defense.
Let’s look at your statement:
In fact, all plants that manufacture testing supplies are running at maximum capacity and reaping record profits. None have closed, nor have plans to close.
In an emergency, imagination and creativity are needed. During WW2 the Singer Sewing Machine company made .45 pistols. The Ford Motor Company made B24 Liberator planes. The Johnson & Johnson Company makes cotton swabs, which are very like testing swabs. I’m sure they’d be happy to talk about switching production to testing swabs. Has anyone spoken to them? There was a company in Alaska announcing they were beginning making testing swabs. Have the feds talked to them?
J & J might tell the Feds, Sure, at $100 per swab. At which point the Feds can say, How about $20 swab, and you still make a 1000% more than you would on a cotton swab, and we’re all happy? To me, that’s the way the DPA would work. Sure the government can lean on the company a little, but what company goes backwards on a government contract, really? But the way, at my company we’ve had government contracts. We’ve seen the money. If Uncle Sam wants to lean on us, my guess is we’d listen.
… seizing other plants by government force and re-tooling them to make testing supplies doesn’t make sense.
When has seizing U.S. factories by force been necessary? Singer and Ford weren’t “seized” by the U.S. government in WW2. I haven’t heard of any company seized or confiscated under the DPA, either. The Military industrial Complex seems to have thrived quite well since 1950. When the DPA has been used, it seems to me companies under government contract were compensated quite well for their troubles.
You bring up the ventilator “debacle”. Let me tell a sea story…
Many decades ago we had a fire on one of our boats. The boat carried the one SCBA and two bottles of air legally required for that class of boat. The crew had typical USCG f/f training. The fire gutted the ship. A complete rout. Luckily, no one was hurt. Right then and there, the captains said such a thing wasn’t going to happen again. Now each ship has a minimum of 5 SCBAs and 25 bottles of air. Every f/fighter has their own turnouts. The fleet has its own f/f training center, where superior training is carried out annually. When we had another major fire a decade after the first, the crew put it out in 15 minutes flat, because they had the equipment, and they had superior training.
Now, by your logic, the expense and maintenance of all this equipment between the first fire and the second must have been wasted, because it was not used. And liferafts are a waste, because they will likely never be used. Yet we know they are not a waste. The “debacle” would be not to have them. The USA should have had 40,000 ventilators sitting on the shelf on January 1st, because this emergency we are dealing with now–the occurrence of a unusually deadly respiratory illness-- has been predicted for some time now. Just as fires and sinking are a predictable danger on a ship.
My hope is that those 40K ventilators are completed, stored, and maintained, ready for the next outbreak. Along with filter masks and other PPE medical people will need. Just like SCBAs and life rafts on a boat. And by the way, all that production keeps people employed, and money circulating in the economy.
You and I have a philosophical difference about the usage of the DPA in the present emergency, I understand and respect your view. I just view things differently. IMO, this administration’s usage of the DPA has been slipshod. It said in March it was going to use the DPA for testing supplies. Then it didn’t. Then it “invoked" it again last week–or it didn’t, because where are the contracts, or executive actions? I truly don’t understand the lack of transparency for what seems to me to be a simple thing. Why do I call it simple? Because POTUS45 quickly invoked the DPA and signed an executive order for meat production after news that meat production might go down. Why not this speed and clarity for testing supplies?
(By the way, I don’t think the federal government will be confiscating those meat plants. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if the workers in those plants, some of which had COVID19 shutdowns, call for increased testing.)