President Trump has finished his first year in the White house. The most important election rhetoric was his exuberant agenda of making ‘America Great Again’. The year 2017 saw a tumultuous journey of Trump’s presidency due to the political upheaval on the domestic and foreign fronts. The American midterm elections are scheduled in 2018 and they may turn out to be the launching pad for the 2020 American presidential elections. The Trump administration’s domestic priority goals for his second year are based on the achieved objectives shared during the State of the Union Address on January 30, 2018.
A White House spokesperson has stated that Trump’s major domestic priorities for reform in 2018 would be to further improve Health care sector; create a conducive environment for infrastructure development; upgrade living standard in America through better welfare strategies; and to propose a plan to settle the issue of immigrants in America. But his domestic policy agenda may face a strong opposition in its bid to achieve the proposed reforms in domestic programs. This is so because the Republicans maintain only a slim majority in congress and for the passage of any major legislation, they need to acquire consensus of Democrats which is not easy. It is necessary for the Republicans to deliver on their promises and do well this year due to the pressure of the upcoming mid-term elections. Hence, it is pertinent to deliberate on each sector of the US one by one in order to get an idea of Trump’s domestic dealings.
The Trump administration has already passed their GOP’s new tax bill which is also known as the new health care bill. The passage is taken as a monumental win by Trump over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as the Obama care bill. In a Cabinet meeting in December after Congress approved the tax bill Trump said ‘When the individual mandate is being repealed, that means Obama care is being repealed.’
Trump’s major domestic priorities for reform in 2018 would be to further improve Health care sector; create a conducive environment for infrastructure development; upgrade living standard in America through better welfare strategies; and to propose a plan to settle the issue of immigrants in America.
The tax bill passed by both houses and signed by the President has dented the ACA badly because it has revoked the individual mandate which was the key part of Obama care that penalized people without health insurance. The Director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research maintained his view that Trump is not wrong to say that this move has already changed ACA in certain ways because the policies opted by the Trump administration are already destabilizing the market place of the ACA. This year the Trump administration is likely to repeal the ACA completely, something that was done only halfway after the passage of tax bill reform. This would also automatically remove incentives for healthy people under health insurance that were given under Obama care. Trump administration is also considering ‘American Patient First’ plan to lower the price of drugs through negotiations among drug manufactures, pharmacies, and health insurance companies.
Trump’s domestic policy includes infrastructure building as well in its priority. It is important to mention here that his populist election campaign in 2016 was based on the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’. The US President reaffirmed his intention to launch a comprehensive plan for country wide rebuilding by spending USD 200 billion by federal government last month. Moreover, according to the White House sources, Trump’s plan would encourage private investment and selling of bonds by state governments which would help in collecting revenue for infrastructure program, with expected figures to reach as high as USD 1.5 trillion. The largest business lobbying group in the country, the US Chambers of Commerce, is also supporting a 25 per cent increase in gasoline tax in order to support infrastructure plan. However, it is expected that this comprehensive plan will likely be presented after mid-term elections.
Trump has signed an executive order in April this year to expand work requirements in nation’s safety net. The order with the title ‘Reducing Poverty in America’ actually envisages the people, who want to get social benefit, to be included in the work force. This order aims to generate better living standard by promoting opportunity and economic mobility. The executive order directs the secretaries of each state to review their welfare programs in order to propose new regulations that may rejuvenate welfare system in America with work requirement being one of them. The target programs for reforms include food stamps, Medicaid and housing benefits. The order calls on the Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and Education departments to use the next 90 days to submit report with their recommended policies to the White House.
Immigration remained one of Trump’s campaign promises, and it will remain at the forefront of his domestic agenda during second year. Trump has announced his immigration plan which proposes a 12-year path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who arrived in the US as children. This plan also entails USD 25 billion budget to construct a wall on US-Mexican border. The practice of ‘catch and release’; entitlement of green cards to distant relatives; and the diversity visa lottery would also be put to an end through this immigration plan. In addition to this, this plan also pledges to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program. However, the Federal District Court in District of Columbia on 24 April, 2018 ruled that the Department for Homeland Security must explain the reasons for ending the DACA program in next 90 days otherwise the program will resume again.
Domestic Policy in 2018
Trump’s domestic policy agenda for the year 2018 may face some serious challenges, particularly over new legislation because the Republicans maintain a very slim majority in congress. A bi-partisan situation in American legislative branch may arise which may lead to the development of a compromise for Republicans over their proposed agenda and vice versa. Apart from the number’s game in the legislature between the Democrats and Republicans, experts view domestic policies of Trump with a lot of skepticism because his administration is looking to introduce tax cuts and entitlement reforms along with a major infrastructure plan worth USD 1.5 trillion. Thanks to such bold policy initiatives by the Trump administration to generate revenues, much doubt has been cast on Trump’s infrastructure plan which is yet to be revealed.
Apart from the number’s game in the legislature between the Democrats and Republicans, experts view domestic policies of Trump with a lot of skepticism because his administration is looking to introduce tax cuts and entitlement reforms along with a major infrastructure plan worth USD 1.5 trillion.
By deliberating on the domestic policy of welfare, some experts like Robert Rector opine that a look at the announced plan of the Federal Government does not tell you anything about welfare because the Trump administration does not talk about the welfare system as a whole. Rather the US President takes it as a mean to reach an end.
The second year prompts Republicans to work more closely with Democrats in order to make legislative environment more conducive in 2018. This did not happen much in 2017 despite the passage of tax reform bill. Meanwhile, other miscellaneous domestic affairs like Children’s Health Insurance Program, abortion laws and gun control will really test the nerves of the Trump administration in the days to come.
has completed his MPhil in American Studies from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. In addition to this, he has completed his research work from Ball State University, Municie USA. He
is an active member of International Exchange Alumni sponsored by Department of State, USA. Currently, he is working as a Research Associate at the CSCR.