by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In less than a month’s time, President Joe Biden has twice invoked wartime production powers in an effort to show he’s confronting problems.
That effort, however, could worsen the perception that he’s remained out of touch with multiple crises unfolding on his watch.
Biden’s first use of the Defense Production Act came in mid-May, when he activated the Korean War-era authority to boost the production and importation of baby formula. His second came this week with the invocation of the DPA to advance his climate agenda, including by increasing imports of clean energy equipment.
Critics have decried the first use of the DPA as belated and the second as unnecessary.
“He is in a bubble filled with woke youngsters who think this is what people care about,” David Carney, a Republican strategist, told the Washington Examiner. “They’re focusing on the little trinkets out on the periphery of what would have any impact on what is going on in Americans’ economic life.”
Biden’s climate-related order will “accelerate domestic production” of clean energy equipment such as solar panels, according to the White House, in part by using tools that allow the federal government to invest more aggressively in contracts with private companies.
His use of the DPA will also boost production of heat pumps, building insulation, and electric equipment that can produce renewable fuels.
Beyond the DPA, Biden also said his administration would hold off on imposing tariffs on many imported solar goods — a move seemingly at odds with his pledge to focus on creating jobs in the solar manufacturing industry but aligned with his pledge to increase clean energy reliance.
The White House struggled to articulate this week what national security emergency required such drastic moves from the president.