Donald Trump is President. What does that mean? What will his agenda be?
Fortunately, back in October, he gave a speech in, of all places, Gettysburg PA, outlining his plans for his first 100 days in office. These are just his priorities as President; it does not include his legislative agenda. Here’s the text. I thought I would go through it with you, with commentary.
- Propose a Constitutional amendment imposing term limits on Congress. Constitutional amendments are really really hard to pass. This won’t make it through the Senate.
- A hiring freeze on all federal agencies, to reduce the size of government through attrition (exempting the military, public safety and public health). He’ll be able to do this. It’s one of those ideas that looks okay on paper, but ends up being practically unworkable.
- A requirement that for every regulation passed, two other regulations have to be eliminated. A nightmare to implement, with the probable result being all sorts of comical negotiation between agencies. The underlying assumption, of course, is that all regulations are bad, period. That’s nuts.
- A five year ban on federal employees and Congresspeople becoming lobbyists after leaving public office. I think he can’t just do this one; it’ll require Congressional action. So good luck; Congresspeople like lucrative lobbying jobs.
- A lifetime ban on White House employees becoming lobbyists for foreign governments. Is this seriously a problem? He actually might get this dumb idea through Congress.
- A complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections. As opposed to hacking DNC computers? Does anyone doubt that the Russian-hacked Wikileaks revelations contributed to Trump’s victory?
- Renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from it per article 2205. Yes, as it happens, the US can unilaterally withdraw from NAFTA. What would happen? Well, the last time the US withdrew from a previously negotiated trade agreement was 1866; there’s no precedent here. Pulling out of NAFTA absolutely will wreak havoc on American business. It almost certainly will start a trade war. It won’t bring back any jobs, and it will lead to a price hike for a whole range of consumer products. Positives? There really aren’t any. But, yeah, article 2205 says he can do it.
- Announce the US withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership. That one was inevitable. Again, Article 30-6 says we can just unilaterally withdraw. If we really want trade wars with most of the countries along the Pacific Rim. Consumer prices should rise, and the negotiated intellectual property rights provisions will be null and void. Watch how long it takes Vietnam to reverse-engineer I-phones.
- China declared a currency manipulator. Okay, this is complicated. Here’s a Wall Street Journal article that explains it pretty succinctly. Essentially, China’s monetary policy involves a small amount of currency manipulation, just as America’s monetary policy involves a similar amount of interest rate manipulation. It’s not a big deal either way; a normal exercise in sovereignty. As the WSJ concludes: “Movements in the nominal yuan exchange rate have almost no long-term impact on global flows of exports and imports or on broader considerations such as average wages.” In other words, worrying about Chinese currency manipulation is typical Trumpian nonsense. Yeah, they do it, so do we, and it’s not a big deal either way. But making this kind of official declaration, by Treasury, would be bitterly resented by the Chinese, and could result in a trade war. And China, as a market for imported goods, is just about ready to explode.
- The Department of Commerce will identify “all foreign trading abuses.” This one won’t mean much, honestly.
- Lift restrictions on the production of American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal. Screw environmental safeguards, in other words. Trump thinks this will free up 50 trillion dollars worth of energy reserves. “Fifty trillion dollars” is a nice, big number Trump just invented. Here’s what this means: fracking. You know those rural communities that voted for him? They’re going to be able to light their drinking water on fire.
- Allow ‘vital energy infrastructure projects’ to go forward. In other words, the Keystone Pipeline’s getting built. Big deal. Both opposition to and support for Keystone was always more symbolic than anything–it’s a minor issue on its merits.
- Cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure. The US commitment to lead the international effort to combat climate change just went pffft. And no, that money’s not getting spent on infrastructure. Bet that’s what pays for The Wall.
- Cancel every executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama. In other words, petty spitefulness and partisan rancor are officially the policy of the Trump administration. I do know that the Right dislikes some Obama executive actions, so this was inevitable. What bothers me is how indiscriminate this order is. No pause to consider if any particular order is a good idea or not. Just full-out de-Obamafication.
- Replace Justice Scalia with a conservative. Nothing we can do about that one. That’s a consequence of losing an election. Just pray for the health of Justice Ginsburg.
- Cancel all federal funding for Sanctuary cities. Sanctuary cities are cities that generally try to shelter undocumented workers, and will sometimes block federal efforts to deport people. Salt Lake City is usually considered one, for example. San Francisco, Phoenix, LA, San Diego, Austin, Miami. We’re all being targeted. This is where it starts, with losses of funding for cities who harbor innocent people.
- Begin removing 2 million ‘illegal immigrants’ from the United States. Cancel visas to countries who won’t take them back. He’s talking about deporting neighbors of mine, people I know. My wife and I have room in our basement for four families. That’s how we respond to Trumpism–we open our homes to Anne Frank.
- Suspend immigration from ‘terror-prone’ regions where vetting is impossible. All vetting will be extreme vetting. Again, this is inevitable. Elections do have consequences. But it’s inhumane, unAmerican, and cruel beyond understanding. Syrian refugees, the greatest humanitarian crisis of our day, are getting the back of Trump’s hand. No succor, no help, no aid, and no refuge. And the extreme vetting addendum suggests a religious test for anyone getting aid. Paranoid xenophobia has become the order of the day.
In that same Gettysburg speech, Trump also announced his legislative agenda. That will be the subject of my next post.
Final thought: we know he’s foolish, delusional and cruel. It helps to actually look at his agenda, though, and see just how radical and how dangerous he is. It’s going to be a long four years.