Story by Jasper Boers '18
Note: This article was written BEFORE Trump's Inauguration
During the run-up to the election, one could listen to the radio, turn on the TV or open Facebook and in moments find satirical op-eds or discussions mocking the possibility of a Trump win and his first one hundred days in office. The frequently overheard “I wonder what Trump would do during his first one hundred days” has turned into “I wonder what Trump will do in his first one hundred days.” While none of us could have predicted the result—25:1 odds against in August 2016—the overwhelming hubris and arrogant confidence in a Clinton win, perpetuated by mass-media outlets, have exacerbated the shock and confusion at Trump’s victory. Although there are concerning elements of Trump’s transition plan, refusal to acknowledge or understand the 45th president is far more damaging than debate over Trump’s conflicts of interest is helpful. Aside from the discourse surrounding Russian hacking and controversial cabinet appointments, discussion of Trump’s own policies seems to be lacking from the national stage. With this momentous inauguration only two days old, here are a few of Trump’s policy proposals you might expect within the first one hundred days
The millions of Americans currently insured under the Affordable Care Act will not lose their insurance. Despite fear-mongering among members of the Democratic Party, Republicans would surely risk their base support by repealing Obamacare without a replacement. The sudden entrance of millions of Obamacare policyholders into the healthcare marketplace would allow insurers to raise their premiums. Moreover, the majority of Americans insured under the Affordable Care Act have conditions that are expensive to treat and would require more payouts from private insurance agencies, further increasing premiums. By contrast, a significant percentage of current private insurance holders are without serious medical conditions and affiliate with the Republican party. If Republicans unloaded ACA policyholders on private insurance agencies, premiums for millions of privately insured Republican voters would increase due to the increased amount of risk taken on by private insurers. Only when a suitable replacement is proposed, co-authored by congressional Republicans and Trump’s healthcare team, will the ACA be repealed. Although Trump is not opposed to certain elements of Obamacare continuing under a new healthcare law, still expect a simultaneous repeal and replacement, likely within a month of the Inauguration.
Supposing Trump continues his current rhetoric towards Russia and develops a diplomatic closeness with Putin, relations between the US and Russia will thaw. Rex Tillerson’s business ties to Russia are cause for worry, but his strongly defiant resolve against Russia expressed during his Senate confirmation hearing demonstrates an acute knowledge of US-Russia relations and a determination to defend US interests. Trump’s administration will lift a variety of economic sanctions, but Trump will not do so without getting the upper hand in any negotiations. Putin’s expectations of and the reality of Trump’s presidency are starkly different, as Trump is a businessman at his core. He will conciliate Russia little if a trade deal or possible Syrian alliance does not strengthen the US. Given his lack of political experience, Trump will rely on his foreign policy pundits for intelligence and guidance in dealing with Russia. Look out for an initial opening of diplomatic channels but a long road to substantial progress during Trump’s first one hundred days.
As the most controversial issue of the campaign, the divisive nature of Trump’s well-publicized immigration policies creates the single largest rift between members of the 115th Congress and the 45th President. While Speaker Paul Ryan has repeatedly promised not to deport or break up families, Trump seems determined to propose legislation sending all illegal immigrants back to South America. The vast amount of government resources and taxpayer money needed to successfully institute Trump’s immigration policy would prove highly unpopular and result in a certain loss in the 2020 Presidential Election. Even the most hardened Republicans would object to mass-deportation-style policies instead of risking their seats, killing Trump’s proposed legislation. However, due to the urgency of Trump’s calls for immigration reform, expect a harsher policy towards illegal immigrants and a strengthening of border security. While not all of this action will happen in the first hundred days, Congress will definitively move to enact stricter immigration policies soon after Trump takes the Oath of Office.
In the months since the election, the President has threatened or entered negotiations with several US companies planning factories in Mexico or Asia. Manufacturing giants such as Carrier, Rexnord, Ford, and BMW have been subject to the “Trumponomics” treatment. Although the few thousand jobs saved by Trump’s private negotiations do not hurt the American economy, there will be no large-scale impact in the long run and Trump will be unable to continue such negotiations once he takes office. The inevitable and imminent rise of automation within the manufacturing sector poses an unavoidable threat to Trump’s “Make American Industry Great Again” doctrine and will further diminish his credibility among the working-class voters who elected him. Trump’s economic vision and tax plan echo Reagan’s trickle-down policies and emphasis on the wealthy elite. Aside from various criticisms of Reagan’s economic mission, Trump and Reagan’s enormous tax cuts and loose regulations are untested in the current era, and 2017 is far different from the 1980s. With Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Davos speech cautioning against a trade war between the US and China, it is unlikely that Trump will accomplish a major shift in international trade policy. Trump’s ultimate success or failure in revitalizing the Rust Belt, increasing the labor-force participation rate, and closing the trade deficit will not become apparent until later in his presidency, yet his rhetoric and image have ignited a true “silent majority” unafraid to voice their discontent with the growing economic disparity between the coastal regions and the heartland of America.
With so much talk of prosperity and growth, Trump’s promises may be reduced to talking points as he adapts to the presidency. Even if little changes, Trump’s presidency upset the previous political order and will continue to contradict expectations of a modern president. In the days following the Inauguration, stay informed and watch Trump carefully. After all, we have front-row seats.