While campaigning, president-elect Donald Trump made a lot of promises to his constituents. Once in office, he’ll have to get to work on delivering them. But unlike his job as head of the Trump Organization, or his role on The Apprentice, as president, he’ll need to learn to work with others in order to turn his campaign promises into reality — bellowing “you’re fired” to a dissenting member of the Senate just won’t work. For him to make significant changes during his first 100 days, he’ll need the help of Congress. Specifically, he’ll need the help of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
McConnell has already thrown some roadblocks in the president-elect’s path, specifically regarding Trump’s ideas around term limits. McConnell is a long-standing opponent of limits, and quashed the future president’s plans roundly.
“It will not be on the agenda in the Senate,” McConnell said of Trump’s proposal to introduce term limits. “I would say we have term limits now — they’re called elections.”
McConnell also told the future president that his infrastructure plans were not a top priority. However, McConnell is on board with many of the other items on Trump’s agenda, including repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act, reforming the tax code and strengthening border security.
Here’s what America is likely to see happen during Trump’s first 100 days — what his campaign is calling “Donald Trump’s Contract with the American Voter.”
Corruption and special interest groups:
Introducing term limits had headlined Trump’s plan to address corruption and special interest groups, but McConnell already squelched that idea. However, Trump still plans to place a hiring freeze on all federal employees (except in the military, public safety and public health sectors). He also hopes to set a policy that requires the elimination of two federal regulations for every one new regulation introduced.
The rest of Trump’s goals in this arena focus on lobbyists, including a five-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service; a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of foreign governments; and a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.
Protections for American workers:
Foremost, Trump wants to withdraw from two major trade deals: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). He would consider renegotiating NAFTA as an alternative to complete withdrawal.
Trump plans to have his secretary of treasury label China a “currency manipulator,” and his secretary of commerce “identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers.” Trump will direct his administration to then “use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.”
Trump also wants to lift restrictions on the production of American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal. Additionally, he promised to “lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks” that are preventing energy projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, from moving forward.
Finally, Trump is pledging to cancel payments to U.N. climate change programs. Instead, he plans to use those funds to repair America’s water and environmental infrastructures.
Security and the constitutional rule of law:
The specific security measures that Trump plans to introduce within his first 100 days all focus on immigration issues. They include shutting down federal funding of sanctuary cities, removing criminal illegal immigrants and suspending immigration from “terror-prone regions.” He assured Americans that, in the future, all vetting of people entering the country will be “extreme vetting.”
Regarding the rule of law, Trump is focused on canceling “every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order” issued by President Barack Obama. He also considers finding a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia a priority.
Beyond these 18 specific points of action, Trump also indicated several broader legislative measures that he plans to make priorities. The 10 focus areas include restructuring Obamacare; cleaning up corruption in Washington; addressing community safety; making childcare and eldercare more affordable; ending illegal immigration; providing tax relief to the middle class; establishing tariffs to discourage companies from relocating to foreign countries; rebuilding the American infrastructure; bolstering national security; and providing educational choice to parents.
What can realistically be accomplished in the first 100 days?
As Trump will be dealing with a Republican Congress, some of his agenda should easily become law. However, Congress still has to address budget concerns, and some of Trump’s measures would be expensive. So America shouldn’t expect to see all of the Contract With The American Voter come to pass — especially not within the first 100 days.
Trump’s wall, part of his proposed End Illegal Immigration Act, will probably become a reality, given that it is one of his platform’s signature ideas. However, Congress is likely to stall, considering the $12 billion cost. Without Congress, he can enact other parts of his immigration reform plan though. With a stroke of his pen, he can undo Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This policy provided deportation protection for undocumented people who arrived in the U.S. as children. He can also easily defund sanctuary cities. Additionally, he could start the process of deportation for illegal immigrants who have committed crimes.
With a Republican Congress, many of Obama’s environmental initiatives are sure to be overturned. And while Trump can’t easily dump the Paris Accords, he could just ignore them.
“He can zero (environmental) programs out,” said Henry Brady, dean of UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. “Climate change programs are in for a drastic reversal.”
When it comes to trade, Trump has a lot of power all on his own. He can withdraw from the TPP just by announcing the withdrawal. It would take six months for him to withdraw from NAFTA, as per Article 2205.
While America shouldn’t expect Trump to deliver on every element of his plan, the country should anticipate some radical changes in the first 100 days of the Trump administration.