- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 22, 2020

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said the Trump administration’s failure to invoke the Defense Production Act is “going to cost lives” as hospitals in her district see a shortfall in masks, gowns and other equipment during the coronavirus crisis.

President Trump says many companies are stepping forward voluntarily, so he hasn’t used the 1950 law that empowers him to direct production from the private sector.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, a well-known progressive Democrat, said it’s great that companies are pitching in but that greater production is necessary.

“It is absolutely needed,” she told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “We are nowhere near the beds and capacity that we need in this country.”

New York City Bill de Blasio issued a similar warning Sunday, saying increased production is a matter of life and death.

“The president of the United States is from New York City and he will not lift a finger to help his hometown. And I do not get it. I do not get it,” Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Right now I have asked repeatedly for the military to be mobilized, for the Defense Production Act be used to the fullest to get us things like ventilators. So people can live who would have died otherwise.”

The New Yorkers spoke as Congress scrambles to boost the economy and extend a lifeline to those who’ve already lost their jobs due to widespread business closures and quarantine orders.

Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said there is no reason for include corporate bailouts in the emerging emergency bill.

She also said Congress needs to “stop the bleeding” by sending cash directly to households while stopping payments for things like mortgages and utilities, so families aren’t seeing an outflow of cash at the same time.

She said Congress should mail checks out to everyone immediately and then “tax it back” from richer people who didn’t need them. That way, lawmakers can act fast instead of figuring out a complicated system in the middle of the crisis.

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