A Trump Administration and US Domestic Policy
Matthew JAMISON | 14.11.2016 | WORLD

A Trump Administration and US Domestic Policy

With the incoming administration of Donald J Trump what can we expect the new President to do domestically in the United States? President-elect Trump will be the first occupant of the Oval Office with no previous political or military experience. That in part is why he was elected. To be a completely new fresh force in Washington DC and to take a wrecking ball to the established DC elites. Now that he has been elected President thanks to the Electoral College, not the overall popular vote, what will he actually do within his first 100 days?

This is the first time in quite a while there will be all-Republican Government in Washington DC with both the House of Representatives and the Senate as well as the White House under one party control. So, President Trump will have quite a lot of political capital to spend and a Congress willing to do most of his bidding. What will he do? It is difficult for the political observer, putting it mildly, to know where one stands with an incoming Trump administration since President-elect Trump has proven himself to be so erratic with his campaign pronouncements and positions out on the trail.

There is of course his policy on illegal immigration.

At the core of Donald Trump’s policy appeal to the voters who have sent him now to the White House was the specific issue of illegal immigration and the US system of immigration more broadly. Candidate Trump famously declared at the launch of his Presidential campaign at Trump Tower, New York City in June 2015 that when Mexico sends people to the United States: «They (Mexico) are not sending their best.» He then went on to say that Mexican immigrants where bringing: «crime… they are bringing drugs. They are rapists. And some I guess are good people». This controversial rhetoric has translated into the infamous Trump policy of building a wall along the United States southern border with Mexico, and somehow making Mexico pick up the tab of an estimated $10 billion. How precisely a Trump administration will force another sovereign country to pay for the construction of a project within the United States is unclear. But the question remains, will the Trump administration make good on its pledge of actually building such a wall along the US-Mexico border?

This could very well be an indicator within the first 100 days of a Trump Presidency of the seriousness of Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric and policy pledges. If a Trump administration failed to carry through on his pledge of building such a wall, it would be a huge disappointment to his followers and supporters and could paint him in the same light as the «do-nothing, all talk» political elites he railed against during the election. Then there are the even more radical immigration policies of detaining all undocumented, illegal immigrants currently resident in the USA (estimated to be at least 10 million people) and instigating mass deportations.

Again, this hardline pledge, which is reminiscent of Nazi Germany, was extremely popular with Trumps voters. If a Trump administration does implement such a domestic policy it will not only cause deep social tensions, perhaps even massive riots and other forms of civil disobedience, but it will also have a very damaging effect on the American economy as many, if not the majority of the illegal immigrants are actually working and paying taxes, contributing to economic growth. By ripping out about 10 million people from the economy will leave quite a void. There is also the issue of whether a Trump administration could whether the pressure internationally and the damage this activity would do to America’s image abroad.

Turning from immigration, the next big item on the domestic front for the incoming Trump administration will be Donald Trump’s stated aim of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. To be fair to President-elect Trump the Affordable Care Act has turned out to be anything but affordable. One of the factors that probably damaged Hillary Clinton at the polls but has not been cited a great deal is the fact throughout October many Americans saw their healthcare premiums under Obamacare soar to astronomical levels. Obamacare has been a disaster from the moment of its botched roll out when a White House website costing $300 million to build and operate failed spectacularly. It was also half-baked with no public option provided for. The Obama/Axelrod communications team never sold it properly to the American people and let the Tea Party and the Republicans on Capitol Hill make all the running on the presentation of it to the American people.

One simply cannot argue against the reality that Obamacare was designed in theory to make healthcare more affordable. Sadly, in reality and practice it has had the opposite effect and has not kept costs down, far from it. The Republican Party never liked the idea of the Federal Government mandating people to have health insurance coverage, believing this to be a Government infringement on the liberties of Americans. As President Trump has been moderating his position on Obamacare. In his first television interview after the election with CBS 60 Minutes he stated that he would like to keep certain provisions of Obamacare such as keeping it illegal for health insurance providers to deny anyone healthcare coverage because of pre-existing conditions and allowing young adults to be able to stay on their parent’s health insurance programme up to the age of 26. The Republican Party and Mr. Trump have not offered any concrete alternatives, but make no mistake, the GOP on Capitol Hill in the House of Representatives and Senate loath President Obama’s signature issue and his greatest domestic achievement. Obamacare in its present failing form will likely not survive a Republican Congressional mauling starting in January. Certain provisions may survive but the days of what was known as Obamacare are likely coming to an end.

On the issue of the broader US economy the Trump platform is a more conventional Republican/Reganite trickle down economic programme which has failed miserably contributing to the massive national debt that the United States has built up since the Reagan administration of the 1980s and the huge budget deficits of the Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. era. The Trump tax plan includes eliminating the inheritance or «death» tax as Republicans term it. Trumponomics includes cutting business taxes to a flat rate of 15% and simplifying the tax income brackets from 7 to 4 with rates at 0%, 10%, 20% and 25%. However, on trade policy, the Trump platform is very unconventional for a Republican.

One of the major contributing factors alongside immigration that propelled Trump to a win was his «American First» trade policy, ripping into NAFTA and TPP and vowing to do away with the former and block the latter. He is the most protectionist Republican to come into the White House perhaps ever. He has repeatedly, in colourful language, accused China of «raping» the United States with cheap imports while stealing manufacturing jobs. Trump has vowed to designate China as a «currency manipulator» and introduce a 15% tax on companies in the USA who outsource jobs abroad. He has pledged to boost economic growth by as much as 3.5% to 4% annually. 

On the environment Donald Trump is an avowed denier of Climate Change and will in all likelihood scrap the US participation of the UN Paris Climate Change Agreement from November 2015 which just recently came into force, just as his last Republican predecessor George W Bush once in office immediately rescinded the Kyoto climate change protocols. He has pledged to abolish or seriously neuter President Nixon’s Environmental protection Agency. With the Republicans enjoying their largest majority in the House of Representatives since the 1920s and con trolling the Senate many of the above policies stand a real chance of becoming law within the first 100 days or first year of a Trump administration. How those who did not vote for Trump, or voted for him without realising what exactly they were voting for, react to each of these policy scenarios from mass deportations to the building of a wall or trade wars with China, remains to be seen. We could very well be heading into a period of extreme civil chaos and strife much like the 1960s and 1970s in American history. 

Tags: NAFTA  Mexico   US  Trump 

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