Saturday, November 12, 2016

FACT CHECK: Donald Trump's First 100 Days Action Plan

FACT CHECK: Donald Trump's First 100 Days Action Plan

Donald Trump laid out a plan for his first 100 days in the Oval Office.
Chelsea Beck/NPR
In late October, Donald Trump released an action plan for what he hopes to accomplish in his first 100 days in office. Below, NPR reporters and editors from the politics team and other coverage areas have annotated Trump's plan. We've added context on several of his proposals, including whether he can really repeal Obamacare and what a hiring freeze on the federal workforce would actually look like. You can see a nonannotated version of "Donald Trump's Contract With The American Voter" here.

What follows is my 100-day action plan to Make America Great Again. It is a contract between myself and the American voter — and begins with restoring honesty, accountability and change to Washington
Therefore, on the first day of my term of office, my administration will immediately pursue the following six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, DC:

* FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, long an opponent of term limits, threw cold water on this idea Wednesday, saying “it will not be on the agenda in the Senate” and "I would say we have term limits now — they're called elections." A constitutional amendment must be proposed by Congress or a constitutional convention (the latter has never happened). Since the president does not have a constitutional role in the amendment process, this is not likely to happen without Senate leadership on board.
* SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are some 2.75 million civilian federal employees as of November. That includes 593,000 Postal Service workers. The number of federal workers has remained fairly stable during the Obama administration and is in fact as low as it has been since the mid-1960s. The federal workforce did grow a bit early on in the Obama administration, largely owing to increased hiring at the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs. Trump wants to exempt public safety employees from a freeze, and if he wants to hire more Immigration and Customs Enforcement patrol officers, it seems unlikely he will be able to shrink the federal workforce much through attrition, as retirement rates average around 3.5 percent a year, according to a Government Accountability Office report. Still, that report says some 600,000 federal employees will be eligible to retire as of next September.
Trump’s efforts to freeze the federal workforce are likely to find support on Capitol Hill. Republicans have proposed shrinking the number of federal employees by as much as 10 percent.
* THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;
Reducing the number of federal regulations is an unending quest for Republicans in Congress and conservative groups, which charge regulations hurt businesses and slow economic growth. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which tracks the number of pages in the Federal Register, reports it is up to 79,380 for the year, with a month and a half to go.
So where to start for President-elect Trump, who at one campaign stop said 70 percent of regulations "can go”? One likely place: the environment. An EPA power plant rule aims to cut carbon emissions by nearly a third by 2030. Trump couldn’t simply veto the regulation, however, although Congress could vote to overturn it. But a Trump administration could certainly weaken enforcement of the standard.
The banking sector is another place for Trump to focus. During the campaign he said he wanted to "get rid of" the Dodd-Frank law that reshaped the banking industry after the 2008 recession. If repealing the entire law seems a heavy lift, one possibility would be to try to eliminate the so-called Volcker rule, which prohibits banks from making risky investments.
Republicans make no secret of their dislike of the recent Federal Communications Commission ruling that protects net neutrality. The Trump administration could also attempt to repeal a regulation that makes more workers eligible for overtime.
* FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;
Trump’s pledge to place a five-year ban on senior White House officials from becoming lobbyists has been applauded by good government groups and others, who have criticized the so-called revolving door through which people pass from government to become corporate lobbyists and back again. Trump wants Congress to pass legislation to enact the White House ban into law, so it can’t be reversed by future presidents. Trump also called on Congress to institute its own ban to prohibit lawmakers and their staffs from lobbying for five years. That may be a tough request for Congress, where plum lobbying jobs are seen as a payoff for the sacrifice of public service.
* FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;
* SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.
On the same day, I will begin taking the following 7 actions to protect American workers:
* FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205
Renegotiating NAFTA “would not be a trivial matter," said Eswar Prasad, professor of trade policy at Cornell University. The agreement, approved by Congress more than two decades ago, ties together the economies of the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Changing it would hurt many U.S. businesses and farmers that have well-established supply chains and distribution systems based on it. Still, Trump could significantly undermine NAFTA by using his administration’s enforcement mechanisms to hassle companies, "making life potentially difficult" for anyone doing cross-border business, Prasad said. "Could NAFTA be killed? Not in letter, but in spirit — yes," he said.
* SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership
* THIRD, I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator
* FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately
* FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars' worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.
* SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward
The Obama administration blocked construction of the northern stretch of the Keystone XL pipeline by denying TransCanada Corp. a needed State Department permit. A Trump administration could greenlight the project by granting that permit. TransCanada says it is eager to start work. Climate activists complain the pipeline will encourage greater development of carbon-intensive oil from the Canadian tar sands.
* SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America's water and environmental infrastructure
Additionally, on the first day, I will take the following five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law:
* FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama
The president can revoke President Obama’s executive action in 2012 that created an immigration program known as DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This policy allows certain immigrants in the U.S. illegally who were brought to the country as kids to receive protection from deportation and work permits. As of June 30, there have been 1.3 million cases approved.
It’s uncertain whether Trump will allow the existing DACA permits to expire on their own or dissolve them the day he signs the order. In either case, the young immigrants will lose their protected status and be eligible for deportation.
* SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States
Actually, there are two lists Trump released during the campaign, totaling 21 names, including state as well as federal judges, and one U.S. senator, Mike Lee of Utah, who rejected the idea at the time and never endorsed Trump.
Two days after the election, a quick survey of individuals who normally would be involved in the Supreme Court selection process for an incoming Republican president produced a remarkable lack of information. Individuals involved in the past said this time they  had “no idea” who was doing this for Trump and had not been consulted.
The lists produced during the campaign were generated in large part by the conservative Heritage Foundation, and the ideology represented by those potential nominees ranges from very conservative to even more conservative.  There are some common themes, however. A general hostility to claims of “reproductive freedom,” from abortion to contraception; a hostility to government regulations, ranging from rules aimed at protecting the environment from coal-fired utilities to rules limiting access to guns. All of these are consistent with positions taken by Trump during the campaign. Some of the listed judges, however, have taken anti-gay-rights positions that Trump stayed away from in the campaign.
It is not entirely clear at this point whether Trump will actually pick someone from his two campaign lists or might go outside those lists. And there is some effort to get him to consider conservative judges and lawyers who are not on the lists. Among them: Paul Clement, the former George W. Bush solicitor general, who has argued 75 cases in the Supreme Court, including some of the most important conservative challenges to liberal Obama administration policies; Brett Kavanaugh, a highly respected federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia; and Jeffrey Sutton, of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Ohio, who was also one of the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s favorite law clerks.
* THIRD, cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities
Sanctuary cities are American cities that have policies protecting immigrants in the country illegally from federal immigration law, such as restricting police from turning them over to federal agents. Trump has not said which federal funds would be withheld from sanctuary cities. A few of these cities are Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Austin, Texas.  
* FOURTH, begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won't take them back
Trump has vowed to expand the definition of “criminal alien,” for example, to include immigrants in the U.S. illegally who are convicted of drunken driving. Without the approval of Congress, a President Trump could instruct his immigration agents to round up every immigrant convicted of a crime and deport them all. There are currently 23 countries considered “recalcitrant” by ICE because they will not accept criminal aliens sent home from the U.S. -- among them Afghanistan, Cuba, Iran and Zimbabwe. Trump could instruct his State Department to withhold visas for the citizens of these countries unless they agree to accept their deportees.
* FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.
Next, I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their passage within the first 100 days of my Administration:
1. Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act. An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification, in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief, and lifting the restrictions on American energy. The largest tax reductions are for the middle class. A middle-class family with 2 children will get a 35% tax cut. The current number of brackets will be reduced from 7 to 3, and tax forms will likewise be greatly simplified. The business rate will be lowered from 35 to 15 percent, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10 percent rate.
Trump’s tax plan would cut income tax rates while capping deductions for the wealthy. He would also reduce the business tax rate to 15 percent and eliminate the estate tax. Workers at every income level would enjoy lower taxes under Trump’s plan, but the biggest beneficiaries by far are the very wealthy. Estimates from the Tax Policy Center and the Tax Foundation estimate that the top 1 percent of income households would see their after-tax incomes rise by 10.2 to 13 percent under Trump’s plan, while “middle income” households -- those from the 40th to the 60th percentile -- would see an increase of 1.3 to 1.8 percent. Tax savings at all levels could be higher from economic growth, but the wealthy still see the biggest bump.
2. End The Offshoring Act. Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.
3. American Energy & Infrastructure Act. Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years. It is revenue neutral.
4. School Choice And Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends common core, brings education supervision to local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and make 2 and 4-year college more affordable.
The big question surrounding Trump’s school choice plan is this: How will he pay for it? Not with new money, he has been clear, but “redirects education dollars” is vague. The fact is, much of the money the U.S. government spends in schools goes to districts that serve low-income, at-risk students. Under Trump’s plan, at least some of these so-called Title I dollars would likely end up going to more affluent districts or leaving the public system entirely.
Here’s the other headline in this graph: “Ends common core.” Learning standards, including the Common Core, are adopted (and replaced) at the state level, and the new federal education law, ESSA, will make it very difficult for Trump to change that. Here’s why. He could try to use federal dollars to push states away from the Common Core, but, again, the new law is clear about the government’s right/ability to do such pushing: It can’t. For more unpacking of Trump’s education plan, check this out.      
5. Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act. Fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, and let states manage Medicaid funds. Reforms will also include cutting the red tape at the FDA: there are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want to speed the approval of life-saving medications.
 The GOP Congress has already demonstrated its willingness to repeal the insurance tax subsidies and Medicaid expansion portions of the Affordable Care Act, along with the requirement that all Americans have health insurance, using a fast-track legislative maneuver known as “reconciliation” that prevents a Democratic filibuster. President Obama vetoed that measure, but President-elect Trump would presumably sign it. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that could strip health insurance coverage from more than 20 million people -- although the change would most likely be phased in over a couple of years. Trump’s replacement plan is less clear. Health savings accounts would allow more people to buy insurance with pre-tax dollars, and selling insurance across state lines might increase competition and reduce prices. But coverage will very likely remain out of reach for many. The requirement that insurance companies provide coverage to people with pre-existing conditions cannot be repealed through reconciliation. But preserving that requirement without the individual mandate to purchase insurance could create a costly situation in which people wait until they’re sick to buy coverage.
6. Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act. Allows Americans to deduct childcare and elder care from their taxes, incentivizes employers to provide on-side childcare services, and creates tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.
7. End Illegal Immigration Act Fully - funds the construction of a wall on our southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall; establishes a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.
 Mexico’s president made it clear to President-elect Trump when they met this summer that his government is not willing to finance a border wall. At one point, Trump suggested the wall might be financed by taxing money that Mexican citizens working in the U.S. send home.
8. Restoring Community Safety Act. Reduces surging crime, drugs and violence by creating a Task Force On Violent Crime and increasing funding for programs that train and assist local police; increases resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.
Violent crime rose slightly in 2015 and murders increased nearly 11 percent according to the FBI data but criminologists report the nation is safer now than 45, 25 or even 10 years ago.
In 2014, the Obama Justice Department launched the “violence reduction network,” matching troubled cities with a law enforcement analyst and a federal grant official. The program now operates in about 10 cities including Camden, N.J.; Chicago; Detroit and Flint, Mich.; Little Rock, Ark.; Newark, N.J.; Compton, Oakland and Richmond, Calif.; and West Memphis, Ark. It’s not clear whether Trump’s team wants to expand on this idea or scrap it in favor of something else.
The Justice Department traditionally funds training programs for local police and in recent years has offered federal funds to pay for body cameras and bulletproof vests. In a time of tight federal budgets, a popular Bill Clinton-era program that helps localities pay the salaries of police officers for a set time frame has been scaled back somewhat.
In 2016, the Justice Department allocated approximately $119 million to fund the COPS Hiring Program, which enables law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire career law enforcement officers and increase their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts. Some $12 million has gone to community policing and collaborative reform grants in 2016 and another $12 million is funding the 2016 COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Program and COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program grants to state law enforcement agencies.
Most law enforcement in the U.S. remains the responsibility of state and local authorities.
9. Restoring National Security Act. Rebuilds our military by eliminating the defense sequester and expanding military investment; provides Veterans with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend the private doctor of their choice; protects our vital infrastructure from cyber-attack; establishes new screening procedures for immigration to ensure those who are admitted to our country support our people and our values.
Trump’s defense agenda as described here is hugely ambitious. Republicans and Democrats have warred over the 2011 Budget Control Act, which imposed automatic, across-the-board spending restrictions, since it was first passed. Repealing it even with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress would require new consensus about exempting both defense and nondefense spending from the restrictions, as well as an agreement about how to pay for any new spending that Trump proposes. His VA proposal sounds a lot like the Veterans Choice program that Congress enacted after high-profile VA scandals in 2014, one that enables veterans to go outside the VA system. But as NPR’s Quil Lawrence has reported, even that “fix” now is in need of a new fix.
10. Clean up Corruption in Washington Act. Enacts new ethics reforms to Drain the Swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.
On November 8th, Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our economy, security to our communities, and honesty to our government.
This is my pledge to you.
And if we follow these steps, we will once more have a government of, by and for the people.

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