Experts and Expertise

From Bloomberg: Trump’s Fear of Experts Hurt the Coronavirus Response

In emergencies, it’s supposed to be the experts — not the president — who are in charge. As a constitutional matter, emergency powers come from Congress and are granted to the executive. They are not inherent executive powers of a kind that a president may have in wartime by virtue of being Commander in Chief. (Although Congress could, in theory, grant special emergency authority to the president himself, subject to it being exercised by rational, bureaucratic experts who work for him.)

Similarly, emergency laws vest executive decision-making authority in expert-run agencies, not the White House. Thus, a typical emergencies powers law says that when the president invokes an emergency — whether in a public health crisis or a natural disaster — the relevant agency is authorized to perform the emergency functions. Those agency decisions have to be based on rational decision making and have to be explained publicly, even if after the fact. These laws are supposed to avoid a situation where a president relies on his own instincts or advice from non-experts in his circle.

1 thought on “Experts and Expertise

  1. “I find the first article somewhat ironic. It was the experts at the CDC who initially screwed up the allocation of test kits – sending equal numbers to each state rather than focusing on hot spots. It was the experts at the FDA who stuck to regulatory protocols which held up some early actions that might have slowed the spread.

    Look, I get it that Trump is a narcissistic con man; I get it that Pelosi is an evil witch; I get it that Schumer is a hypocrite and that McConnell is a political hack. I get it. But what the writers of these political hatchet jobs (and similar ones from the right) don’t seem to get is that we are all in this together. The politicians – eventually – will do something useful – I hope. The time to play blame games is after the fire is out – not while we’re hooking up the hoses. Articles such as this aren’t helpful, esp. because they obscure the most important fact: we’re all in this together, and we’ll either recover from this together – or fall apart. The stakes are too high for this kind of divisiveness. Save it for October.”

    From John Plodinec

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