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Friday, December 7, 2012

Barack Obama's Quiet Consolidation of Power: EO 13603

The Defense Production Act of 1950 was passed by Congress at the outbreak of the Korean war.  The act gives the president authority to require industries to prioritize government contracts for the procurement of materials and supplies that were deemed critical to the national defense.  The act also gave the president authority to set up systems to allocate materials and to make them economically feasible for industry suppliers.  The intention of the act was to mobilize industry to put America back on a wartime footing for the Korean war.

However, under the act the president could not use this authority to control the distribution of any material in the civilian market unless he makes two findings: 1) that the material in question is critical and essential to national defense, and is scarce; and 2) that the requirements of national defense for the critical material cannot be met without "creating a significant dislocation of the normal distribution of such material in the civilian market to such a degree as to create appreciable hardship."

Fast forward.  On March 16, 2012, president Obama promulgated executive order 13603, titled National Defense Resources Preparedness.  The purpose of this executive order is to amend the Defense Production Act of 1950 in several ways.  First, the authority granted to the president is delegated to six cabinet secretaries.  The two findings are still required, but the secretaries can make them and submit them to the president.  The Cabinet secretaries named are Agriculture, Energy, Health and Human Services, and Transportation, which have presidential authority delegated to their respective areas.  Additionally, the Secretary of Defense is delegated the authority with respect to water resources, and the Secretary of Commerce with respect to all other materials, services and facilities, including construction materials.
The Defense Production Act of 1950 referred to scarce and critical materials essential to national defense.  In contrast, executive order 13603 "...shall be used to promote the national defense, under both emergency and non-emergency conditions." The order continues, "The secretary of each resource department, when necessary, shall make the finding required [the two indicated in the defense production act]…  [and] this finding shall be submitted for the president's approval…  Upon such approval, the secretary of the resource department…  May use the authority…  To control the general distribution of any material (including applicable services) in the civilian market."

  1. The Defense Production Act of 1950 was legislation.  Obama's amendment is executive order.
  2. The Defense Production Act of 1950 was enacted because of the outbreak of war.  Obama claims to be winding down America's involvement in war.
  3. The Defense Production Act of 1950 was focused on war-critical material such as steel and aluminum.  Obama's order applies to "any material...in the civilian market."

What could possibly go wrong?

Tags: Executive Order 13603, The Defense Production Act of 1950, National Defense Resource Preparedness, President Obama.  Please mention / link to the Conservative Observer AZ. Thanks!


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