With Congress gridlocked, progressives are calling for achieving as much as possible of the Build Back Better agenda via executive action—especially its green industrial policy components.
The good news is that there is a tool long blessed by Congress and the courts for doing so: the Defense Production Act’s (DPA’s) so-called “priorities and allocations” powers.
These were conceived during World Wars I and II as a distinctly American type of industrial policy—a way to get energy and other goods and services to where they are most needed to achieve bold economic transformations.
In “Priorities and Allocations: How the Defense Production Act Allows Government to Mobilize Industry to Ensure Popular Well-Being,” Todd N. Tucker explains how the DPA has been used in the past and how its considerable authorities could be used to:
- Expand vaccine production around the globe, in conjunction with a waiver of intellectual property rights;
- Unstick supply chain clogs to get goods and services moving again;
- Build up a domestic supply chain for solar panels and cells, complementing the tariffs currently being applied to these products;
- Limit the production of fossil fuel industries;
- And much more.