What should conservatives expect from Donald Trump’s first 100 days of presidency?
Aided by full Democratic control of Congress, President Obama was able to do much harm in his first 100 days of White House control. In 2009, Obama had virtually free rein to implement his agenda.
He used that free rein to … pass a then-$787 billion stimulus bill; create a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq; pass a budget appropriating funds for Obamacare, expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (i.e. SCHIP); relax enforcement of federal marijuana laws; formally endorse the U.N. Statement on ‘Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity’; end the federal funding ban on embryonic stem cell research; and overturn a ban on federal funding for international abortion providers.
Now the tables have turned. Donald Trump is president-elect and the Republicans have full control of Congress. What follows is the conservative’s Christmas 2017 wish list. These are the agenda items Republicans should demand of the Trump administration in its first 100 days of White House control.
1. Full repeal of Obamacare
This is the big one. The Republicans emphatically won control of the House of Representatives in 2010 solely on the “stop Obamacare” wave and promise. They gained control of the Senate in 2014 on the same promise. Congressional Republicans have repeatedly broken their promises on this disastrous law.
Now is the time. Donald Trump needs to pressure the Republicans in Congress to fulfill their promises and deliver on a full and complete repeal of Obamacare. They can accomplish this by using budget reconciliation to pass the repeal without giving the Democrats an opportunity to filibuster. Failure to immediately deliver on this, as health insurance premiums continue to rise for American families, will break American confidence in the Republican Party and doubtlessly put GOP control of Congress in jeopardy in the 2018 midterms, along with Trump’s chance for reelection in 2020.
2. Border security and The Wall
While Obamacare’s repeal is the signature policy demand on the Right, illegal immigration and a southern border wall between the U.S. and Mexico are the signature issues that propelled Donald Trump to the front of the pack during the Republican presidential primary.
Daniel Horowitz has previously written for CR on the necessity for a legitimate southern border wall. And while some question the practicality of a concrete wall, a double-layered border fence is practical, effective (where it has been tried in San Diego and Israel), would cost roughly $2 billion, and, in fact, is already required by the 2006 Secure Fence Act.
The construction of the wall will not be completed overnight. But in the same way that President Obama budgeted funds for Obamacare before that law’s passage in his $3.5 trillion 2010 budget, Trump ought to insist Congress do the same to address the porous southern border.
3. Government lobbying ban
As part of his promise to “drain the swamp,” President-elect Trump pledged to institute a five-year lobbying ban for former officials after they leave the White House or Congress. Additionally, Trump has proposed a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of foreign governments.
These are common sense reforms that would decrease the influence of lobbyists for crony capitalists in D.C., and they have bipartisan support. Trump can accomplish his lobbying ban through executive order, but going through Congress would obviously have more force and social capital.
4. Repeal Dodd-Frank
"Dodd-Frank has made it impossible for bankers to function.” Donald Trump told Reuters back in May. "It makes it very hard for bankers to loan money for people to create jobs, for people with businesses to create jobs. And that has to stop."
He is absolutely right. This atrocious piece of 2010 legislation (officially the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Financial Stability Oversight Council — two boards of unelected bureaucrats that hang over the heads of banks in this country, zapping them with millions of dollars in fines and draining needed capital for investment and growth out of the marketplace to … only God knows where.
While liberals and populists love the idea of sticking it to the Big Bad Banks, like most all liberal policies, it has had the unintended consequence of hurting the little guy (small community banks) the most.
As of June 2015, American financial institutions suffered more than $160 billion in losses to government fines, which translates to a loss of approximately $3 trillion of potential growth, stifling job creation. Congress should enact and President Trump should sign a repeal of Dodd-Frank, unleashing capital into the economy and stimulating job growth in parts of the country that so desperately need it.
5. Nominate a pro-life justice to the Supreme Court
For many voters, keeping Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat out of the clutches of a liberal Clinton-appointed judicial activist was the single reason to vote for Donald Trump. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly promised to nominate a pro-life justice to the court.
Trump won, and to the victor goes the Supreme Court nomination. The president-elect has floated a widely praised list of legal minds. The problem is, as the Eagle Forum’s Andy Schlafly told Conservative Review contributor Steve Deace, though many justices on Trump’s list have the backing of the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist society, “most of them are actually not pro-life.”
Take Wisconsin Justice Diane Sykes, “probably the top pick of the Federalist Society,” according to Schlafly. “If you dig into her record you find that when she was a state court judge, she sentenced two pro-life advocates to jail for 60 days for a peaceful protest they engaged in. She also struck down an Indiana law that defunded Planned Parenthood,” Schlafly stated.
“This is not a pro-life judge,” he said. Conservatives need to hold President-elect Trump’s feet to the fire on this issue. Trump must nominate a justice who has a clear record of unabashedly pro-life, pro-Constitution rulings. Anything less would repeat the mistakes of previous Republican presidents, and lead to the nomination of another liberal David Souter or back-stabber John Roberts.
6. Pain-capable abortion ban
It is not enough to simply nominate a pro-life justice and trust the courts to take care of the abortion issue. Congress and enforcement from the executive branch is necessary to end the inhumane and evil practice of late-term abortions. Trump went so far as to promise a “Pro-life Coalition” on the campaign trail.
Trump can move beyond campaign rhetoric by signing into law a federal ban on abortions after 20 weeks, the point at which a child is capable of feeling pain. The cruelty and inhumanity of abortion is the same at all stages of a child’s development in the womb. Public opinion has swung in favor of the pro-life movement, and tangible policy achievements by the incoming Republican administration are more possible than ever (and the pain-capable abortion ban has already passed through the House of Representatives once).
7. Defund Planned Parenthood and make the Hyde Amendment permanent
The abortion mill that was caught on tape allegedly discussing the illegal sale of baby body parts has been formally recommended for prosecution by the special House committee responsible for investigating the illicit activities first exposed by the Center for Medical Progress. Efforts by conservatives to defund Planned Parenthood have been repeatedly defeated by threats of an Obama presidential veto and spineless Republicans who melt at the whisper of “shutdown.” But no more.
With the self-proclaimed pro-life Donald Trump in the White House, the veto threat is gone, and the worry over a government shutdown with it. There is no excuse to continue funneling tax dollars to Planned Parenthood now. And President-elect Trump should make the Hyde Amendment — which outlaws federal funding for abortion — permanent law, as he promised to do during the campaign.
8. First Amendment Defense Act
Congress and the president must act to protect the First Amendment rights of religious Americans. And President-elect Trump can accomplish that by signing into law the First Amendment Defense Act.
As the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah (A, 100%), explained, “The First Amendment Defense Act (S. 1598, H.R. 2802) would prevent any federal agency from denying a tax exemption, grant, contract, license, or certification to an individual, association, or business based on their belief that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.”
“For example, the bill would prohibit the IRS from stripping a church of its tax exemption for refusing to officiate same-sex weddings.”
Trump has previously expressed conditional support for the legislation. “If Congress considers the First Amendment Defense Act a priority, then I will do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signatures and enactment,” Trump wrote in a letter last year.
Congress ought to make First Amendment protections for the religious a top priority. And Donald Trump ought to keep his promise to sign that legislation into law.
9. Fix the Fed
President-elect Trump has consistently railed against the Chinese and has pledged to designate the communist country a “currency manipulator” on his first day in office. He would do well to also look inward and tackle the number one manipulator of U.S. fiscal policy: the Federal Reserve.
John Gray and Tommy Behnke have written on the opportunity for Trump to affect major policy change at the Fed by filling two vacant positions on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors (and potentially up to four by 2018) with hard-money advocates. The leadership at the Federal Reserve is responsible for run-away inflationary policies that have cut the purchasing power of the dollar, and for artificially low interest rates that have recklessly disrupted the business cycle. The Fed’s created bad incentives for entrepreneurial capital investment — creating the environment for another great recession.
In a positive sign, Donald Trump has endorsed a return to the gold standard, and voiced awareness of the Fed’s bad leadership. “Sadly, we all know what’s happening to the dollar,” Trump told The Street in 2011. “The dollar is going down, and it’s not a pretty picture, and it’s not being sustained by proper policy and proper thinking.” Trump should appoint members to the Federal Reserve Board that share his thinking on hard money and believe that a change in policy is necessary.
Additionally, Trump ought to sign into law Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. (A, 92%)’s legislation to audit the Fed to ensure accountability. He can also fight to enact positive reform by pushing to end the Fed’s dual mandate to keep the money supply stable and fight unemployment — a reform supported by Vice-president-elect Mike Pence.
10. Tax reform
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. (F, 40%) recently announced that comprehensive tax reform is all but guaranteed in 2017 using the budget reconciliation process, and stated he prefers a “revenue-neutral tax package.”
Republicans need to think bigger than “revenue neutral” and go for, as Brian Darling wrote for Conservative Review, “a wholesale scrapping of tax credit cronyism and massive tax cuts for business and individuals alike.”
What would that look like? It looks very much like adopting a plan proposed by President-elect Trump on the campaign trail. As CR’s John Gray wrote last year (“Donald Trump’s Tax Plan is YUUGE”), the Trump tax plan offered the largest tax cuts of any Republican plan proposed during the presidential primary:
The (Trump) tax cut not only easily surpasses all other candidates’ tax cuts in size, but it surpasses all of the other tax cuts combined! You heard that right. According to the non-partisan Tax Foundation, Jeb Bush’s tax cut of $3.665 trillion, Rand Paul’s tax cut of $2.974 trillion, and Marco Rubio’s tax cut of $4.14 trillion add up to an aggregate cut of $10.779 trillion. At $11.98 trillion, the Donald’s tax cut is YUGE.
Since his initial proposal, Trump has tweaked the plan to address criticisms. The latest iteration would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, eliminate the death tax, permit families to deduct the full cost of child care, permit businesses to immediately expense all capital investments, and substantially lower individual income tax brackets to 12 percent, 25 percent, and 33 percent. These are great pro-growth ideas that conservatives ought to see signed into law next year.
11. Scrap Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders (DACA to start)
This is a Day 1 pledge from Trump that has been long-awaited by conservatives. Trump has promised to “cancel immediately all illegal and overreaching executive orders,” and he needs to start with President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty.
Recent statements by the president-elect indicate that he could be going back on his word and wavering on his promise to repeal the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals executive order that granted amnesty to thousands of illegal immigrants. That is unacceptable equivocation.
Failure to repeal DACA, which Trump himself has called “illegal and unconstitutional,” would constitute a broken campaign promise of the highest order and signal that Trump is no different from the amnesty-embracing Establishment Republicans he railed against on the campaign trail.
12. Repeal the EPA “Waters of the United States” rule
The Environmental Protection Agency is on a constant crusade for ever more control over every aspect of Americans’ everyday lives. In 2009, the agency moved to declare carbon dioxide — otherwise known as human breath — a “dangerous pollutant” in order to introduce a slew of new regulations to control the economy.
Likewise, in 2015 the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers jointly issued a new water regulation that, in practice, illegally gave the EPA the authority to regulate non-navigable waters by redefining terms to circumvent restrictions on the EPA’s regulative authority in the Clean Water Act of 1972.
The result, as the National Federation of Independent Business concluded:
If rain collects on your property somewhere or you happen to have a pond or a stream bed that remains dry but for a small amount of time per year, then chances are the federal government will be requiring you to pay an exorbitant amount of money for a permit.
Landowners in violation of the rule could be fined an average of $37,500 per day. The EPA’s power grab essentially granted the administration an unlimited ability to extort land owners. Congress has attempted to pass a repeal bill to rein in the EPA, but President Obama vowed to veto any and all such repeal legislation. President-elect Trump needs to sign that repeal legislation in 2017.
13. National right to carry
“The Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right that belongs to all law-abiding Americans,” reads Donald Trump’s official policy position on the right to bear arms. “The Constitution doesn’t create that right — it ensures that the government can’t take it away. Our Founding Fathers knew, and our Supreme Court has upheld, that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to guarantee our right to defend ourselves and our families. This is about self-defense, plain and simple.”
To that end, the president-elect has called for national concealed carry reciprocity. He declared: “A driver’s license works in every state, so it’s common sense that a concealed carry permit should work in every state. If we can do that for driving – which is a privilege, not a right – then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege.”
Almost every Republican in Congress claims to be pro-gun rights, and now with Republican control of the government, it is time to finally restore the constitutional right to bear arms for every American with a national concealed carry permit.
These are the campaign promises. These are the agenda items. 2017 is the time to transform talk into action.
Check back with Conservative Review next Christmas to see which promises President Trump fulfilled, and which ones he broke in 2017.
Editor's note: This piece has been updated to correct grammatical errors.
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Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in Politics and Economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are Conservative Political Philosophy, the American Founding, and Progressive Rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations: @ChrisCPandolfo