In short, with its executive order in hand, the anti-fossil fuel Obama administration will have unfettered powers to manage “all forms of energy,” including its “production, conservation, use, control, and distribution.” Energy Secretary Steven Chu will be able to direct the allocation of private resources to the Obama administration’s green energy projects and clamp down further on fossil fuel production without having to worry about Congress getting in the way.
Chu can decide, for example, that the current level of carbon fuel production and usage in this country is creating a risk of global climate change, resulting severe storm damage that could conceivably imperil our national defense. He has the authority to make such a determination and issue regulations on his own initiative under the executive order. Forget about the Environmental Protection Agency. The Obama administration has found a better shortcut to impose cap and trade type restrictions through “allocation” of “energy resources” so long as the Energy Secretary determines in writing that it is an “appropriate” means to “promote “national defense” (which, don’t forget, includes “energy production” as part of its definition).
The executive order grants to the president’s executive branch agency heads the authority to manage much of the rest of the economy as well, if deemed “appropriate” to “promote” national defense under programs approved by the secretary of defense, secretary of energy or secretary of homeland security. This includes health care (or, as the executive order refers to it, “health resources”). The term “health resources,” by the way, means “drugs, biological products, medical devices, materials, facilities, health supplies, services and equipment required to diagnose, mitigate or prevent the impairment of, improve, treat, cure, or restore the physical or mental health conditions of the population.”
Thus, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will have even more power than Obamacare provides her to prioritize and allocate all the nation’s “health resources” as she sees fit, including under “non-emergency conditions,” as long as it can be justified as “appropriate” to “promote” the broadly defined “national defense.”
In addition to citing the Defense Production Act, the Obama administration also bases its far-reaching grab for power over the American economy on the president’s constitutional powers as commander-in-chief. The problem for Obama is that another Democratic president, Harry Truman, tried such an assertion of power during wartime and was slapped down by the Supreme Court. In a 1952 case, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952) – decided two years after the original Defense Production Act and while the Korean War was still underway – the Supreme Court held that the president did not have inherent constitutional powers to direct the secretary of commerce to take possession of and operate most of the nation’s steel mills. “The order cannot properly be sustained as an exercise of the President’s military power as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces,” the Supreme Court concluded.
President Obama has once again grossly overstepped the bounds of his authority. While not yet posing a threat of all-out martial law, as some have suggested, Obama’s latest executive order represents another blatant move of his toward centralized government control of the American economy.
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