Following up on yesterday’s post, in which I outlined Donald Trump’s agenda for his first 100 days in office. Here, then, is his legislative agenda.
- Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act. The title’s misleading; this is a tax cut for billionaires. Trump says it’s designed to grow the economy at 4% a year, and create 25 million new jobs. Those figures are fantasies; his plan will do nothing of the kind. Essentially, he wants to reduce the current 7 tax brackets to 3, with corporate taxes reduced from 35% to 15%. The highest tax bracket, currently 43.6%, would drop to 33%. He claims it would provide a 35% tax cut for middle class families with 2 children. But that depends on what you mean by ‘middle-class’. Poor families will derive no benefit from it at all. The big point is that the Trump tax cut is so huge, it will add trillions to the deficit. Of course, Trump supporters insist that those concerns are overstated; that the Trump tax cuts will free up trillions of dollars for domestic investment, that the corporate tax cut will incentivize companies that have moved off shore to come back. There’s no reason to think any of that will happen. Essentially, Trump’s economic plan is an argument that our two highest national priorities must be to let rich people get richer, and corporate profits to be higher. ‘Cause if we do, fairies and unicorns will flourish.
- End the Offshoring Act. Would use tariffs to discourage companies from moving jobs overseas. Sounds good; won’t work.
- American Energy and Infrastructure Act. Leverages private/public partnerships and private investments through tax breaks to spur 1 billion dollars in infrastructure investment. Okay, what does that mean? Some liberals are actually applauding this plan, saying that maybe infrastructure is an area where we can work with Trump. And, in fact, building bridges and highways and electric grids is a public good. And needs to be done, efficiently and effectively. Which Trump’s plan won’t accomplish. See, he wants to privatize it. First, by offering a trillion dollars in bonds, which people can invest in. Then letting private contractors do the building, with profits built into their bids. So why is this bad? First of all, it incentivizes construction companies to maximize profits by skimping on road quality. It also incentivizes the private sector to profit from public projects. That’s the private/public partnership part; you give private businesses control over a city’s water supply, or parking meters, or toll roads. Prices rise, quality falls. This is, in other words, ideological. Private good/public bad. That’s nonsense. You end up with roads built where they’re not needed, and badly needed projects in poorer communities neglected.
- School Choice and Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars to allow parents the right to send their kids to any school they want to–religious, charter, private, magnet, or home school. Trump’s plan is a mishmash, frankly. Most federal funding goes to Title 1 schools; schools that are struggling, in poor areas of the country. It’s reasonable to assume that ‘redirecting federal education dollars’ to ‘promote choice’ means more money going to more affluent districts, to increase choice. As for the rest of it, who knows? He wants to end Common Core; but that’s not really a federal program. Right now, about all we can say is that, under Trump, public education takes it on the chin. This might also end school testing, which is the only good thing about it.
- Repeal and Replace Obamacare. That was always inevitable; you can’t really campaign harder against something than Trump campaigned against the ACA, and Republicans in Congress hate it too. The ‘replace’ part is the tricky one. Health Savings Accounts are the hot conservative idea right now. But they’ll only really help upper middle class people, and will prove inadequate for people with major medical events. ‘Selling insurance across state lines’ sounds good. Health insurance is generally cheaper in Utah than in New Jersey, for example. That’s because Utah insurance companies have negotiated prices with Utah providers. A New Jersey resident can buy Utah-based insurance, but he’ll have to visit Utah doctors, pharmacies, clinics. Also, what will happen to people with pre-existing conditions? What about children under 26, who, under the ACA, can keep their parents insurance? Repealing Obamacare will accomplish one thing; it will deprive millions of Americans of health coverage. People are going to die.
- Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act. A tax deduction for childcare and eldercare. It will provide no benefit whatever for families who don’t pay federal income tax. In other words, this is a great deal for Ivanka Trump. She gets to deduct her nanny’s salary from her taxes. But you single Moms out there, desperately trying to make ends meet? Won’t help you one iota.
- End Illegal Immigration Fully. In other words, Trump’s building a wall. And Mexico’s going to pay for it. Also, if you’re deported once, and try to come back, you can get five years in federal prison. It’s just not possible adequately to express how loathsome everything about this proposed legislation is. I do rather hope that reasonable Republicans will temper this bill somewhat. I also don’t believe the wall’s ever getting built. I think we’re going to end up with a huge pile of concrete and rebar somewhere in Texas or Arizona. The question is, how long will it take Trump’s economic plan to bankrupt the government? I think we’ll run out of money to finish the wall. Hope so; what a stupid racist idea.
- Restoring Community Safety Act. It will create a National Task Force on Violent Crime, and give money to local police departments for extra training on how to do deal with gangs. Obama’s already done most of this, and in fact, violent crime is lower now than any time in the last fifty years. But I suppose some more money for cops isn’t a terrible idea. Lester Freamon gets to keep his Wire going a little longer.
- Restoring National Security Act. It increases Defense spending, because of course it does. It provides some money for efforts to reduce cyber attacks, like the Russian hacks that got Trump elected. Here’s the nasty part: “establishes new screening procedures for immigration to ensure those who are admitted to our country support our people and our values.” We’re going to ensure the loyalty (already unquestioned) of Muslim Americans by making their lives suck a little more.
- Clean up Corruption in Washington Act. He wants to Drain the Swamp, he says. As he goes into the White House still owning businesses providing him with the most blatant conflicts of interest in the history of the Presidency.
So. That’s the legislative agenda. He’ll get most of it through. None of its likely to do any good at all. It’s going to be a long four years.