Trump’s campaign promises have run into trouble with his own party — even his own Cabinet members — before he even takes the oath of office.
By POLITICO STAFF
Donald Trump’s presidency will ultimately be measured by whether he can transform the bombastic, details-free campaign style that propelled him to victory into substantive policy actions that look like success to the American people.
The obstacles are already piling up: Building the U.S.-Mexico wall requires money that isn’t there. Repealing Obamacare is an easy vote, but Republicans are thoroughly divided about how to replace it. Pulling out of a trade deal takes little more than a signature. But negotiating new ones — on Trump’s terms — will require more diplomatic skill and compromise than Trump has shown at any point during his remarkable run for the presidency.
The barriers to real policy success are innumerable and unpredictable. From tax reform to national security challenges to economic uncertainties, Trump’s campaign promises have run into trouble with his own party — even his own Cabinet members — before he even takes the oath of office.
One hundred days is an arbitrary period of time to assess a new presidency — blame FDR and the New Deal for that one. Nonetheless, POLITICO assigned its policy reporting teams to handicap the road ahead for the first 100 days of the Trump administration, identifying the policy ideas, the leaders and the obstacles that will be used to define success or failure of the new White House.
The vision: Trump has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which he has repeatedly called a “disaster.” He says he’ll replace it with cheaper and better insurance for “everybody.” But Trump splits with congressional Republicans who want to overhaul Medicare by partially privatizing it. He sides with Republicans on proposals to turn Medicaid, the health care program geared to the poor, into lump-sum state payments — an idea that Democrats abhor. He also wants to allow government health programs to negotiate drug prices, a stance sure to alienate Republicans and the powerful drug lobby.
Key leaders: Trump; Vice President Mike Pence; House Speaker Paul Ryan; Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary; Seema Verma, Trump’s pick to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Outlook for the first 100 days: Trump has promised executive actions on Day One to begin rolling back Obama’s health law. Many health officials also expect action in the near term to prop up the Obamacare exchanges so they don’t implode during the transition period. The timeline for congressional action on repeal-and-replace legislation is extremely iffy: Trump has indicated his administration would submit its own plan “almost simultaneously, shortly thereafter” when his pick for secretary of Health and Human Services is confirmed.
Obstacles: Devising a plan that satisfies conservative Republicans implacably opposed to a major federal role (or expense) in health care, while winning over at least eight Senate Democrats needed to pass legislation, will be daunting — especially without upending his own base by taking health coverage away from 20 million people, including many of his voters.
The vision: Trump has promised to revive the U.S. manufacturing sector, beef up the enforcement of existing trade deals and punish companies that move jobs overseas. His top priorities include pulling out of trade agreements like the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the Obama administration negotiated and hoped to get ratified before leaving office, and renegotiating NAFTA. Trump and members of his incoming Cabinet say they’re not against trade but see a need for stronger deals, preferably bilateral agreements.
With a triumvirate of China hawks leading his trade policy, Trump is pledging to challenge China’s use of tariffs, subsidies and other barriers to gain an unfair trade advantage. Trump also says he wants to cut the U.S. trade deficit by boosting exports and reducing imports, and he wants to slap hefty tariffs on imports of products from companies that move factories elsewhere.
Key leaders: Leading Trump’s trade policy will be trade attorney Robert Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative, economics professor Peter Navarro as head of the newly formed National Trade Council and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as Commerce secretary. While USTR traditionally takes the lead in negotiating trade policy, Trump has said that Ross, at Commerce, will be the chief architect of his agenda.
Trump has named Jason Greenblatt, his longtime attorney, to serve as “special representative for international negotiations,” a role the president-elect said would include helping negotiate trade deals around the world. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is also expected to focus on trade deals in his role as senior adviser.
Outlook for the first 100 days: Trump says his Day One agenda includes dropping out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Tight on its heels will come the renegotiation of NAFTA, though Trump and his trade advisers have yet to get specific on what exactly they would like to change about the pact.
The president-elect has also expressed strong interest in pursuing a bilateral trade agreement with the United Kingdom, though the U.K. can’t begin negotiations on new agreements until it finishes its exit from the European Union.
Trump could also instruct his pick for Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, to label China a currency manipulator. Mnuchin and others have tempered the claim more recently.
Trump’s pledges to implement “a big border tax” have also picked up steam, and he could move early in his term to impose a 35 percent tariff on imports of goods from companies that move production offshore.
Obstacles: The executive branch has an extraordinary amount of authority over trade policy, a setup that will allow Trump to carry out, at least initially, much of what he has pledged to do. But he’s not the only one who has a say.
Some members of Congress could explore ways to check Trump’s trade moves by reasserting Congress’ constitutional authority over tariffs and trade.
International reaction is likely to be another obstacle, with other countries moving to retaliate against punitive tariffs. The renegotiation of NAFTA, for example, will be limited by what Canada and Mexico agree to — though Trump has threatened to pull out of the deal entirely if he does not get the terms he wants.
The vision: Republicans who have long wanted corporate tax reform have full control in Washington and quickly laid out a plan for overhauling the tax code through the budget resolution adopted earlier this month.
Trump and congressional Republicans broadly share the same goals — lowering tax rates for individuals, corporations and businesses that pay taxes as individual; boosting production in the United States; and scrapping many of the incentives currently in the tax code.
Key leaders: Trump; Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s choice for Treasury secretary; Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council; House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.); House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas); Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
Outlook for the first 100 days: Trump advisers initially talked a big game on taxes, floating the idea that reform could be taken care of by spring. But it’s pretty clear now that Republicans won’t be able to focus their full energies on tax reform until after their work is done on Obamacare — and the timeline there remains pretty cloudy.
Obstacles: Trump and House GOP leaders started squabbling about perhaps the central plank in the House tax reform plan — a “border adjustability” framework that taxes imports but exempts exports — before Trump even took the oath of office. As the old saying goes, there are always winners and losers in tax reform. So expect to hear more from potential losers if and when the administration and the Hill work out more of the tax reform details.
The vision: Trump campaigned as a champion of the working class and repeatedly promised to bring manufacturing and coal jobs back to the U.S. His campaign platform promised 25 million new jobs in the next decade. Since his election, he’s touted announcements by various companies, including United Technologies Corp., and most recently General Motors, as evidence that major firms into creating or keeping jobs in the U.S. Trump has threatened corporate America with a 35 percent border tax on any company that moves production outside the U.S. and then tries to ship goods back to the country.
Key leaders: Andrew Puzder, Trump’s pick to lead the Labor Department, is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s. Puzder opposed the Labor Department’s overtime rule (now blocked by a federal court), and has been reluctant to raise the hourly minimum wage, currently $7.25, even as high as $10.10. His confirmation hearing before the Senate HELP committee is slated for Feb. 2.
Outlook for the first 100 days: Trump will likely focus first on the low-hanging fruit of tax cuts and deregulation, both of which will enjoy strong support from the GOP Congress. Trump aides have also been making the rounds on Capitol Hill to discuss maternity leave and child care proposals.
Obstacles: Puzder could face difficulties getting confirmed as labor groups, women’s groups and Democrats hit him on a variety of fronts. Rumors swelled in mid-January that Puzder might be getting cold feet, but these quieted after Puzder tweeted that he looked forward to his confirmation. Trump’s anti-trade policies and even, to some extent, his anti-immigration policies don’t go down well with many congressional Republicans.
The vision: Nothing lit the Trump movement’s fire like his calls to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall and deport millions of undocumented immigrants. Yet these promises will be the hardest to deliver. His proposed wall along the Mexican border has a price tag in the billions or tens of billions, and he’s even had trouble rounding up support from Republicans. His pledge to deport up to 3 million immigrants with criminal records is another tall order. His pledge to eliminate President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides deportation relief to more than 752,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. at a young age, may no longer be operative.
Key leaders: House Speaker Paul Ryan will need to marshal support for whatever immigration plan Trump ultimately settles on, if only to procure funding. Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, will oversee immigration enforcement efforts. During his confirmation hearing, Kelly broke with past Trump statements, staking out less extreme positions about the southern border, about deportations, and about admitting Muslim visitors to the U.S. If confirmed, the president-elect’s choice for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, will wield power over the immigration courts. That will be particularly significant if Trump ramps up deportations.
Outlook for the first 100 days: Trump could use the 2006 Secure Fence Act, which called for Congress to build 700 miles of reinforced fence along the southern border, but never set a ceiling on the total number of miles. DHS says it’s already constructed 700 miles of fencing or vehicle barriers, but Congress is already authorized to fund extension, repair, or replacement of existing barriers. On the first day of his administration, Trump could roll back Obama-era immigration enforcement policies that prioritize rounding up serious criminals over corralling undocumented immigrants who’ve committed petty crimes or have no criminal record at all. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents could arrest and detain undocumented immigrants en masse. Trump is also under pressure to decide the future of Obama’s signature deportation relief program, DACA, as soon as he takes office. The hundreds of thousands of people approved for DACA have access to work permits and hold jobs in a range of professional settings, from the courtroom to the classroom.
Obstacles: Trump can come out swinging: Increased border security and deportations could begin quickly, as could DACA repeal (should Trump revert to his earlier opposition). But addressing larger immigration problems legislatively would require a vision that extended beyond fences and deportations. Trump has not publicly discussed such a vision.
The vision: Trump has promised to achieve «peace through strength» by pursuing a massive military buildup. That would include expanding the Army to 540,000 active duty soldiers, the Navy to 350 ships, the Air Force to 1,200 fighters and the Marines to 36 battalions. That’s in addition to modernizing the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Trump has also said he wants military leaders to formulate a plan within 30 days of his inauguration for defeating the Islamic State, and has talked up the advantages of closer cooperation with Russia in fighting terrorism.
Key leaders: Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s choice for national security adviser, was an early supporter and adviser to Trump — but has faced scrutiny for his ties to foreign countries through his consulting firm, his closeness to Russia and his habit of promoting conspiracy theories on social media. Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, tapped to be Defense secretary, has appeared to split with Trump on Russia and on whether to scrap Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal. Former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson is Trump’s pick to be secretary of State, but both Democrats and some Republicans have questioned his lack of government or diplomatic experience and his close ties to Russia.
Outlook for the first 100 days: The Trump administration will give two major indications of its plans for defense spending, starting with a defense budget supplemental request it will probably submit to Capitol Hill soon after taking office. Following that will be Trump’s budget proposal for fiscal 2018. He also still needs to fill scores of high-level national security vacancies.
Obstacles: Pentagon spending caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act represent the most direct obstacle to Trump’s proposed buildup. Repealing the caps will require 60 votes in the Senate, where Democrats have presented a united front demanding equal increases in domestic spending. Trump will also continue to face intense scrutiny from both parties related to any proposed reset with Russia.
The vision: Trump has made clear his disdain for mainstream climate change science, at times calling it «a hoax.» Incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus recently said Trump still believes that when it comes to climate research, «most of it is a bunch of bunk.»
Key leaders: Scott Pruitt, who has clashed with the Environmental Protection Agency as Oklahoma’s attorney general, is Trump’s choice to run the EPA, whose regulations make up the heart of the Obama administration’s climate agenda. As secretary of State, Tillerson will be an important voice in in determining whether the U.S. remains a part of 2015’s Paris global climate agreement and future negotiations. Rick Perry, the former Texas governor tapped to run the Energy Department, has accused climate scientists of manipulating their research and once pledged to dismantle the agency, though he now says he regrets that.
Outlook for the first 100 days: Trump is expected to start unraveling Obama’s environmental legacy as early as his first day. EPA could begin the administrative process to withdraw its carbon rules for power plants, while many conservatives would like to see Trump pull the U.S. out of global climate pacts, including Paris, as soon as possible. Trump could also eliminate the Obama administration’s methods of calculating the economic benefits of greenhouse-gas reductions, as well as efforts to cut carbon pollution from the federal government’s operations.
Obstacles: Trump may not believe in climate change, but his inner circle does not appear to have consensus on the issue, and much could depend on whether Ivanka Trump’s concerns sway her father. It could take years for EPA to go through the full administrative process needed to kill its major Obama-era carbon rules. And while Trump said in May that he would «cancel» the Paris deal, he expressed an «open mind» on the topic after the election.
The vision: Trump and his advisers have talked about proposing a legislative package that would unlock $1 trillion in investments in roads, bridges, airports and other infrastructure to spur economic growth and create jobs — with an intense focus on using American-made products.
Key leaders: Transportation Secretary-designate Elaine Chao, House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
Outlook for the first 100 days: Though Trump often pledged that infrastructure would be a cornerstone of his first 100 days in office, Congress is embroiled in bigger priorities like health care, and both House and Senate leaders have indicated that infrastructure is in the second tranche of their agenda, at best. Even if Trump fleshes out more of his proposal in the few months, substantial action on the Hill probably won’t come that quickly.
Obstacles: Trump has yet to offer any concrete plan. The $1 trillion figure has already provoked sticker-shock among fiscal conservatives, even though his advisers’ rhetoric suggests that the proposal will lean heavily on incentives to unlock private-sector capital, through bonds, tax credits, public-private partnerships and similar programs — as opposed to a huge burst of direct federal spending. Trump’s «Buy American» focus could alienate some Republicans, especially because the GOP typically supports letting the market make such decisions.
Jeremy Herb, Gregory Hellman, Eric Wolff, Joanne Kenen, Paul Demko, Rachana Pradhan and Kathryn A. Wolfe contributed to this story.
Link : http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/trump-first-100-days-policy-233871