Biden abuses Defense Production Act for solar panels | EDITORIAL

FILE - Solar panels face the sky on Jan. 26, 2021, in Burrillville, R.I., at ISM Solar's 10-acr ...

President Joe Biden’s economy-wrecking policies have been bad enough. Now, he wants to intervene directly for favored green industries, making things worse.

The United States was built on a market economy. That means individuals and companies purchase and sell goods and services with minimal government interference. There is a role for the public sector when it comes to enforcing contracts, ensuring public safety or providing infrastructure, but tilting the playing field toward certain interests is both unjust and inefficient.

Bureaucrats don’t have as much knowledge about the best use of scarce resources as do a vast array of businesses and consumers making millions of collective decisions each day. Prices, absent government intervention, contain a wealth of information that allows consumers and other businesses to make informed decisions. This is one of the reasons that government meddling creates asset bubbles and shortages. The intervention distorts the price signals that might otherwise have kept things in check.

The free market has allowed entrepreneurial Americans to create the greatest, most successful economy in world history. But most politicians can’t resist helping their favored industries. That usually doesn’t end well. Just look at Venezuela or other socialist paradises.

Count Mr. Biden among those who thinks he can do it better than the market. Earlier this month, he invoked the Defense Production Act to increase the manufacturing of solar panels and other green energy products. He did this “so that the U.S. can take ownership of its clean energy independence,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said.

The Defense Production Act is supposed to promote the national defense, not give the president authoritarian powers to temporarily nationalize select industries for political purposes. And imagine the reaction from progressives if a Republican president invoked this authority to increase the production of fossil fuels. Don’t look now, but Mr. Biden hinted at doing precisely that as he continued last week to blame the “evil capitalists” at Big Oil for the rampant inflation that his own economic illiteracy has wrought.

The Defense Production Act is a blunt tool that should be used sparingly, such as in times of war or during a pandemic. “The constitutional risk is the president will increasingly resort to emergency powers to deputize private industry to do his political bidding,” The Wall Street Journal noted.

The irony, of course, is that the Biden administration’s attacks on the U.S. energy industry, along with its devotion to forcing green technologies on consumers before they’re capable of meeting the country’s energy needs, has caused the very problem the president now seeks to solve. Perhaps a coherent energy policy not driven by wishful thinking on renewables would be a more promising alternative than overriding the private sector.