With the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, here’s a quick guide to what a Trump administration could mean for average Americans.
Get full coverage of Trump’s transition and Friday inauguration at HoustonChronicle.com.
- Trump spurs hope in Texas town that relies on oil, coal and steel
- Texanomics: Trump’s incoming cabinet is a barrel of contradictions
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'Insurance for everybody'
With complete Republican control of the federal government, the effort to rip up President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act, will be a key issue to watch in President-elect Trump’s first 100 days.
In a Jan. 15 interview with the Washington Post, Trump said he wanted to replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, with “insurance for everybody.” He added he does not want a single-payer plan, often dubbed Medicare for all, but that he “wants to take care of people.”
Congressional Republicans are on course procedurally to repeal the ACA as soon as Trump takes office, though replacing it could prove much more complicated. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported Tuesday that about 18 million Americans could lose their health insurance within one year if Republicans gut major provisions of the law, increasing the number of uninsured people by 32 million in 10 years and causing individual premiums to skyrocket. Republican leaders have not agreed on legislation to replace it.
'Impenetrable physical wall'
In no policy area has Trump made more promises than the U.S.-Mexico border. His website lists 10 items his administration would prioritize, including the construction of an “impenetrable physical wall on the southern border, on day one” along with the promise that Mexico would pay for it.
Per CNN, his team reportedly has begun discussing the wall’s construction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Interior Department, particularly as it involves environmental protection laws that could hamper the project. It will be among the first items the president-elect will take up after he is inaugurated on Friday, sparking a fight with border communities and Democrats who lambasted the idea of a wall, which will cost billions to build.
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'Criminal aliens out day one'
Trump also has proposed “(moving) criminal aliens out day one, in joint operations with local, state and federal law enforcement.” Critics worry that in addition to that, the Trump administration could use information voluntarily given by undocumented immigrants under President Obama’s executive actions against them in broader deportation efforts. This has been referred to a type of deportation force that would round up immigrants in their communities, but the president-elect’s course, or parts of it, could find early roadblocks in Congress and the courts.
When reminded of Trump’s campaign promise, Ryan said:
“I know, I know. I think we should put people’s minds at ease: That is not what our focus is. That is not what we’re focused on. We’re focused on securing the border.”
In a Washington Post interview, Trump said his top priorities remain building a border wall and stemming illegal immigration, which, in fact, is at a 44-year national low. He did not rule out using executive actions to begin those projects, according to the Post.
Social safety net
Trump, perhaps, is most at odds with his party when it comes to the bevy of health care and economic programs Americans have relied on for generations.
Republicans in Congress long have eyed cutting or privatizing such services as Medicaid and Social Security, and Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, “has spent his career trying to dismantle (them),” as Yahoo News reports. However, on the campaign trail, Trump said he would not make any cuts to the social programs, a position his incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus echoed more recently. “There are no plans in President-elect Trump’s policies moving forward to touch Medicare and Social Security,” Priebus told ABC News on Jan. 15
The Veterans Administration
USA Today rounds up the president-elect’s plan for veterans: “That plan includes allowing veterans to get VA-paid care in the private sector if they choose (and) creating a 24-hour hotline for VA complaints, convening a commission to investigate misconduct and swiftly holding employees accountable for wrongdoing.”
Trump has nominated David Shulkin, the current undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs, to lead an agency that has faced a barrage of criticism after veterans’ complaints about long wait times and suicides.
While Trump did not mention higher education often during the campaign, he revealed a few points of his student loan proposal last October, most notably an attempt to modify the income-based repayment plan for federal student loan borrowers.
Under his plan, borrowers would pay up to 12.5 percent of their discretionary income a year, while the loan balance is forgiven after 15 years, according to a U.S. News and World Report analysis. Another major goal, long a favorite position of Republicans, is to remove the federal government as a lender, partially or completely, and turn over the responsibility to private banks, according to an interview Trump’s policy director, Sam Clovis, gave to Inside Higher Ed.
'Greatest jobs producer that God ever created'
Trump has set a lofty goal of 25 million new jobs over the next decade, telling audiences he would be “the greatest jobs producer that God ever created.”
The president-elect already has taken credit for dissuading executives of American companies from moving jobs out of the country, threatening to levy a 35 percent tariff on their U.S. imports. He also has promised to renegotiate NAFTA and other international trade deals that both Trump and many Democrats argue have cost millions of jobs over the last two decades. He is likely to need their help in Congress if Republicans stick to their longtime preference for free trade agreements.
'Lower tax rates for individuals and businesses'
Among Trump’s tax-cutting measures, one that likely will find deep support among Republicans in Congress is a call to lower the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from the current 35 percent. As CNN Money describes it, Trump’s other tax proposals, which are similar to the House GOP plan, would allow for “a bigger standard deduction, only three income brackets, and general lower tax rates for individuals and businesses.”
Overall, the richest Americans and highest-earning households would benefit the most from his plan, which includes repealing the estate tax. Some parts could meet GOP opposition in Congress, however, particularly from deficit hawks who say the plan is too expensive. It could cost the country as much as $7 trillion over the first decade, according to experts who have reviewed it.
Trump said he intends to revise the federal tax code to allow working parents to file for an income tax deduction that includes up to four children and elderly dependents.
Individuals making less than $250,000 a year (or $500,000 if filing jointly) can qualify, according to a campaign proposal. Much of the math remains unclear, considering the varying costs of child care around the country, but the Trump website offers this example: A family making about $70,000 per year, which is around the national average, and which has $7,000 in child-care expenses would save about $840 per year.
The plan also would allow new mothers to receive up to six weeks of partially paid maternity leave, an issue Republicans largely have chosen to avoid in debates about working families. “For many families, child care is now the single largest expense, even more so than housing,” Trump said at a Sept. 13 event in Pennsylvania. “Yet, very little policy work has been done in this area.”
During the campaign, Trump often mentioned his support for so-called “school choice” measures that redirect taxpayer dollars to private, parochial or charter schools. His website promises to “immediately add an additional federal investment of $20 billion toward school choice,” drawn from existing federal education dollars.
The president-elect’s choice to lead the Department of Education, billionaire Betsy DeVos, has championed many of the same policy goals in her home state of Michigan, which NPR described as having “one of the least-regulated charter programs” in the nation. DeVos, whose Senate confirmation hearings began Tuesday, is expected to field tough questions from some Democrats about her intentions regarding public schools.