Last updated Thursday, Feb. 9
The recent changes to the official White House website speak volumes.
The morning of President Trump’s inauguration, the pages on Whitehouse.gov outlining the president’s official policy stances on civil rights, immigration and health care all vanished into cyberspace. So, too, did the page on combating climate change. In fact, there’s no longer a single mention of “climate change” on the entire site.
The sweeping website edits are indicative of a seismic shift away from Obama administration policies, and they provide some insight into what Trump is likely to push for in his first 100 days.
Since the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the first 100 days of a new administration have been the symbolic time frame for new administrations to set clear policy agendas. Traditionally, presidents have come to office on a wave of public goodwill, which makes it easier to quickly start fulfilling campaign promises. Trump, however, lost the popular vote and enters the White House with the lowest public approval ratings in recent history. Nevertheless, his administration has wasted no time in beginning to plow through an ambitious set of priorities.
Throughout his campaign, President Donald Trump vowed to undo major parts of the Obama administration’s domestic and foreign policy actions, from repealing most of Obamacare and scrapping recent gun control rules to undoing immigration reforms and eliminating various environmental regulations. He reiterated these intentions in his Contract with the American Voter, a plan released in October charting the first 100 days of his administration.
Now that Trump is in the White House, he has tremendous leverage to quickly fulfill many of these campaign promises. Some he can put in place immediately through executive action, with the mere stroke of a pen. For priorities that involve spending measures or the repeal of already enacted legislation, he needs support from Congress. And fortunately for him, both houses are controlled by Republicans eager to confirm his Cabinet nominees, support his agenda and approve his soon-to-be announced Supreme Court pick.
Click the issues in this interactive to learn more about some of the major policy issues on the table, and how Trump can shape them in his first 100 days in office.
To find out what young people think about these and other key issues, check out the Letters to the Next President archive.
The number of U.S. gun deaths has fallen considerably since peaking in the mid-1990s. But it still remains far higher than in any other wealthy nation in the world, as does the rate of gun ownership. And while mass shootings make up only a small percentage of total U.S. gun deaths, they occur with alarming frequency, including a June 2016 rampage at an Orlando nightclub that killed 49 people, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Despite Democratic efforts to enact stricter gun control regulations, congressional Republicans have repeatedly blocked any new legislation. There is, however, strong public support for gun control measures. In a 2016 CNN poll, 92 percent of respondents said they supported expanded background checks, and 85 percent said they want the “no-fly” purchasing ban. Nevertheless, the political influence of gun rights groups, like the National Rifle Association — which endorsed Trump — remains huge, effectively killing almost all efforts for stricter gun laws.
What Trump wants to do …
On the campaign trail, Trump called gun bans “a total failure.” He says he’s opposed to any expansion of background checks and wants concealed carry permits to be allowed in all 50 states. He’s also pledged to “un-sign” President Obama’s executive actions on guns he enacted after the December 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting — in lieu of congressional action — that marginally expand background checks and help to crack down on illegal online gun sales. Trump has also advocated for eliminating gun-free zones in schools and on military bases.
On his campaign website, Trump stated that an important way to fight crime is to “empower law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves.” He’s also claimed that America’s failed mental health system, not gun legislation, is the real culprit behind the mass shooting dilemma.
It’s been more than 40 years since the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision protecting a woman’s right to have an abortion. But Americans are still deeply divided on the issue. In recent years, various conservative states in the South and Midwest have enacted laws aimed at restricting access to abortion facilities and services. However, in a major ruling in June 2016, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that placed steep restrictions on abortion providers, a major victory for abortion rights advocates. In its 5-3 decision, the court found the state’s laws placed an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions, violating their constitutional rights.
What Trump wants to do …
Prior to running for office, Trump described himself as “very pro-choice.” However, as a candidate, he adopted the anti-abortion stance of the Republican Party.
During his first week in office, just days after massive women’s marches took place around the world, Trump signed an executive action blocking any foreign aid or federal funding for international organizations that provide or “promote” abortions. The ban had previously been put in place by President George W. Bush and removed by President Obama.
Trump is also pledging to make more permanent changes to federal abortion laws by appointing pro-life judges, most notably to the Supreme Court, who could further weaken abortion restrictions. He has, however, strayed from the Republican platform in arguing that abortion laws should contain exceptions for rape and incest when the life of the mother is at risk.
Federal funding for Planned Parenthood, a national reproductive health organization that provides low-cost abortions and birth control, may also be on the chopping block as part of the Republicans’ effort to repeal Obamacare. Vice President Mike Pence, a vocal anti-abortion advocate, has previously pushed for de-funding the organization. And as governor of Indiana, Pence signed into law broad restrictions for women seeking abortions and for the medical facilities providing them.
Immigration policy was one of the most contentious issues in the 2016 election, and a cornerstone of Trump’s campaign. The United States has long been a top destination for foreigners, attracting roughly 20 percent of the world’s immigrant population. The more than 41 million immigrants who live here make up about 13 percent of the nation’s total population. Just over 11 million of them are undocumented; living here without legal status . This population has actually slightly decreased in recent years.
Although most Americans believe it’s unrealistic to deport every undocumented immigrant, many support tighter immigration restrictions. Only about a third, though, are in favor of building a U.S.-Mexican border wall.
In a 2016 Pew Research poll, 75 percent of respondents said that undocumented immigrants who meet certain requirements should be allowed to stay in the U.S. legally, and a majority (59 percent) say immigrants strengthen the country through their hard work and talent.
All legislative efforts to enact comprehensive immigration reform have stalled in Congress in recent years. In lieu of legislation, the Obama administration took a series of executive actions protecting undocumented young people and their parents, who meet certain conditions, from being deported.
In June 2016, however, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s decision overturning several of these executive actions that would have provided protection to nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants.
At the same time, a record 2.5 million people were deported during Obama’s presidency, more than any other administration.
What Trump wants to do …
Tough talk on immigration has been a signature part of the Trump campaign since day one, and as president he now has broad powers to influence policy. At a press conference announcing his run for president last year, Trump infamously said: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
On the campaign trail, he repeatedly promised to eliminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, one of Obama’s surviving executive actions, which he can now fulfill on his own without congressional approval. DACA currently protects about 750,000 undocumented young people — known as the DREAMers — from deportation, allowing them to obtain driver’s licenses, enroll in college and get jobs. Those who voluntarily registered with the government in order to participate in the program would become vulnerable to deportation if Trump follows through on his threat to get rid of it. As of his first week in office, it was still not clear if he would take action on this.
Although as a candidate, Trump initially pledged to deport all 11 million undocumented residents, he’s since scaled back that threat, and now says the focus will primarily be on immigrants with criminal records.
Among his most provocative talking points on the campaign trail was the promise to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, with Mexico footing the estimated $10 billion bill. He also threatened to defund so-called sanctuary cities, those jurisdictions around the country that are generally unwilling to assist with local federal immigration enforcement efforts (including, interestingly, Washington, D.C).
On Jan. 25, in his first week in office, Trump addressed both of these issues, signing a set of executive orders calling for the construction of the border wall (which would still require congressional approval to pay for most of it) as well as beefing up border patrol and immigration enforcement. The following day, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto abruptly cancelled his planned meeting with Trump, a move that further heightened tensions and prompted Trump’s press secretary to announce that the wall would be funded through a a 20-percent tax imposed on all imports from Mexico.
The orders also expand the criteria of undocumented immigrants who could be targets for deportation. And it threatens to cut off federal grant funding from sanctuary cities who don’t comply with enforcement efforts, a move that, if enforced, will likely result in major legal challenges.
“A nation without borders is not a nation, and today the United States of America gets back control of its borders,” Trump signed upon signing the orders.
As a candidate, Trump initially called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Closer to the election, he marginally softened his stance, instead proposing a temporary ban on refugees entering the United States, particularly those from Muslim countries with terrorist activity, who he insisted should be subject to “extreme vetting.” He also proposed creating a registry of Muslims living in the United States.
In keeping with his promise, Trump issued a controversial executive order on Jan. 27 aimed at “protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.” It imposes several sweeping immigration-related measures, including a 90-day ban on entry from seven “terror-prone” majority-Muslim countries: Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Syria.
Additionally, the order suspends admission of all refugees into the United States for 120 days to allow for a thorough review of the screening process. After that period, refugee entry can then resume, but only for countries that satisfy U.S. security requirements.
The order caps the total number of admissions at 50,000 for the 2017 fiscal year, less than half the number admitted by Obama the previous year. Just since October — the start of the 2017 fiscal year — nearly 30,000 refugees have already entered the United States, leaving just over 20,000 refugee admission spots available for the next eight months. It also orders Homeland Security to prioritize refugee applications for people from religious minority groups, who in many of the Muslim-majority countries under consideration, are predominantly Christian.
It also suspends all Syrian refugees from entering the country until the administration determines that their admission would be “consistent with the national interest,” a dramatic departure from Obama’s resettlement program that admitted 10,000 Syrian refugees in the 2016 fiscal year.
Washington State and Minnesota quickly filed suit, challenging the legality of Trump’s order. On Feb. 3, a U.S. district judge temporarily blocked the seven-nation ban, allowing travelers with valid visas to resume entering the country. The ruling was immediately appealed by the administration but quickly upheld by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in a unanimous decision announced on Thursday, Feb. 9. The case will likely make its way to U.S. Supreme Court soon.
Per the court’s ruling, the United States will, for now, continue admitting new refugees, but many fewer than before. Under President Obama it was on pace to resettle 110,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017 (October 2016 – September 2017). Trump’s recent actions, however, reduce the yearly refugee cap to 50,000, a part of the executive order that has not been challenged in court.
The United States has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. About 2.3 million people are currently behind bars, roughly 716 for every 100,000 people, the result of decades of harsh sentencing policies and steep penalties for nonviolent drug offenses.
African-Americans and Latinos make up a disproportionate percentage of inmates. Because of the system’s astronomical costs, prison reform is actually one of the few issues where Republicans and Democrats have found some common ground. Although strategies differ, both parties agree that it’s necessary to end mass incarceration and reduce the severity of sentences for low-level, nonviolent offenders.
In the wake of recent high-profile police shootings and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, both parties have also been forced to confront issues on policing and race, although they’ve responded very differently.
What Trump wants to do …
Trump hasn’t released any formal positions on criminal justice and has yet to clearly outline how he’d specifically address the issue, but he’s long pledged to be tough on crime and “restore law and order,” priorities supported by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala), his nominee for attorney general.
Trump frequently makes the claim that crime has been rapidly increasing, reaching near-crisis levels. He’s referred to America’s inner cities as “war zones.” And although the U.S. murder rate and overall violent crime rate did rise between 2014 and 2015, according to the FBI, those rates are still significantly lower than they were in the 1990s.
Trump has expressed strong support for law enforcement, promising to defend them and claiming that police are far too often “mistreated and misunderstood.” He’s made clear that he fully intends to reverse course from Obama’s Justice Department, which conducted numerous investigations of discriminatory practices in some of the nation’s largest police departments.
Trump has also shown support for private prisons, and will likely reverse a recent decision made by Obama’s Justice Department to phase out their use.
ECONOMY AND TRADE
Trump inherits an economy in much better shape than the one Obama took on eight years ago. It’s been slowly but consistently rebounding from the depths of the 2008 recession, with rising home prices, prolonged job growth and unemployment dipping below 5 percent.
However, with the continuing loss of manufacturing jobs, wages have remained stagnant for millions of Americans, a factor that’s contributed to a shrinking middle class and growing gap between rich and poor.
What Trump wants to do …
As a candidate, Trump successfully keyed into the economic frustration many working-class Americans continue to feel, promising populist reforms to bring back manufacturing jobs.
As part of his America First economic plan, he’s pledged to shrink government and roll back regulations (which he says cost the U.S. more than $2 trillion in 2015, an unsubstantiated claim). In his first week, he also signed an executive action initiating a hiring freeze on all federal employees (except the military).
During a meeting with business leaders during his first week, he pledged to make America more business-friendly by cutting regulations by 75 percent.
“We’re gonna be cutting regulation massively,” he said. “The problem with the regulation that we have right now is that you can’t do anything.”
On Jan. 30, Trump signed an executive order to do just that, requiring federal agencies to cut two existing regulations for every new rule introduced, and setting an annual cap on the cost of new regulations.
Several days later, he signed two directives ordering the rollback of key Obama-era financial regulations, including a plan to weaken the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which placed restrictions on Wall Street banks after the 2008 financial meltdown.
Trump has also called for dramatically simplifying the tax code to a three-income-tier plan (there are currently seven tiers), a move that would significantly lower tax rates for top income earners. He insists that the plan would reduce taxes for everyone (a claim that’s been disputed) and help create 25 million new American jobs in the next decade, with 4 percent annual economic growth. In the coming months, his administration will draft a tax plan and federal budget (with lots of program cuts) for Congress to consider.
Trump has long been outspoken on trade policy, promising protectionist policies that increase tariffs on large trading partners like China and Mexico, and penalizing American industries that move their factories overseas.
As a candidate, he called for withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade agreement negotiated by the Obama administration,that he once attacked as “another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country.” In his first week in office, Trump made good on this promise, issuing an executive action withdrawing from the deal and effectively it dead in the water.
Trump has also promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and establish terms more favorable to the United States.
Additionally, he’s called for a bill to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure projects over 10 years. “We will build new roads and highways and bridges and airports and tunnels and railways all across our wonderful nation,” he pledged during his inauguration address. But the details on where that money will come from and how it will be spent have been vague, aside from his plan to generate public-private partnerships and encourage private investment through generous tax credits. Infrastructure projects are actually among the few priorities that Trump and congressional Democrats agree on.
Early in the campaign, Trump advocated strongly against raising the federal minimum wage, but has since shifted his position. More recently, he has suggested it should be increased to “at least $10,” but thinks it’s an issue best left to the states, not the federal government, to decide.
In reaction to the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) and recent attacks at home and abroad, global terrorism remains a major concern. A majority of Americans continue to approve of U.S. military campaigns against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, according to a recent Pew Research poll, although there’s wide disagreement on whether to deploy more American troops on the ground.
In the same poll, however, about 70 percent of respondents said the next president should focus more on domestic policy than foreign policy.
What Trump wants to do …
In his inauguration address, Trump said: “We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.”
But the specifics of how he intends to destroy the Islamic State and other terrorist groups is still largely unclear. At a campaign rally in July, Trump called for increasing attacks against terrorists, sending more of them to U.S. military prisons like Guantanamo (which Obama tried to close) and expanding the use of forceful interrogation methods.
As a candidate, Trump was outspoken in his opposition to President Obama‘s defense and foreign policy strategies, arguing that they were far too lenient with known enemies, hurt U.S. relations with allies and made America weaker. “Our foreign policy is a complete and total disaster,” he said in an April speech. “No vision, no purpose, no direction, no strategy.”
In a campaign speech last June, Trump described his foreign policy plan as replacing “chaos with peace.” He’s taken a more isolationist stance, repeatedly criticizing the North Atlantic Trade Organization (NATO), arguing that America needs to focus on defending its own border rather than borders of others countries.
Trump says that although “war and aggression will not be my first instinct,” the U.S. should invest heavily to “rebuild” its military, ensuring America’s continued position as the world’s foremost superpower.
Within his first week in office, the Trump administration also produced a draft executive order (although not yet finalized or signed) that would lift a series of detainee restrictions imposed by Obama. Trump’s order includes reauthorizing the use of CIA secret prisons, sending new detainees to the Guantánamo Bay prison (which Obama tried to close) and removing certain restrictions on how detainees can be treated and interrogated, a move underscoring his insistence that “torture works.”
Obama was unable to push through any domestic climate change legislation during his presidency, but his administration has continued to try to make the United States a global leader in curbing carbon emissions — even as it remains one of the world’s largest carbon emitters. At the United Nations climate change conference in Paris last December, the administration pledged a 32 percent reduction in the nation’s carbon emissions by 2030 (from 2005 levels) – a proposal that faces staunch opposition from Republican leaders in Congress and is also being challenged in federal court.
Although renewable energy use is growing, America remains deeply reliant on fossil fuels. Coal, natural gas and oil still comprise about two-thirds of our total energy generation.
Proposals to increase alternative energy production and reduce emissions are often perceived as a threat to the economy and jobs, particularly in regions where fossil fuel production remains the backbone of the local economy.
Despite these concerns, a strong majority of Americans (71 percent, according to a 2015 poll) agree that “the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment.”
What Trump wants to do …
Despite broad scientific consensus, Trump still disputes the notion that climate change is caused by human activity. As a candidate he called global warming a “hoax” and a “pseudoscience” invented by America’s global competitors to stifle U.S. economic growth. As spelled out in his America First Energy Plan, he’s pledged to cut environmental regulations, rescind President Obama’s Clean Power Plan intended to significantly reduce carbon emissions, increase coal mining and domestic oil and gas drilling, and overhaul what he’s called the “totalitarian” Environmental Protection Agency (a move he’s shown a willingness to follow through on with his pick of staunch EPA critic and climate skeptic Scott Pruitt to head the agency).
It’s still unclear if the administration will pull out of the Paris climate deal; Trump says he has an open mind about it and his Secretary of State pick Rex Tillerson has expressed support for it.
The administration’s “American First Energy Plan” calls for “eliminating harmful and unnecessary” environmental regulations to open the door for increased domestic oil, gas and coal production.In an early commitment to this plan, Trump in his first week issued executive actions to revive construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, two highly controversial projects that were halted by the Obama administration.
Although the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare as it’s known — was signed into law in 2010 and survived two major Supreme Court challenges, it’s still among the most hotly contested partisan issues in American politics. Since it went into effect in 2014, some 7 million more Americans now have some form of health coverage, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. The fundamental disagreement, though, still rests on whether the government can or should require its citizens to have health insurance.
What Trump wants to do …
Like much of the Republican establishment, Trump is staunchly opposed to Obamacare, and has long pledged to overturn it. On his campaign site, he called the law, “an incredible economic burden” that’s resulted in “less competition and fewer choices.” He says he aims to restore “free market principles” by allowing people to deduct health insurance payments from their tax returns, and removing barriers to entry for legal drug providers to lower prescription costs. Trump also claims that providing health care to undocumented immigrants costs billions annually and that mass deportation would” relieve healthcare cost pressure on state and local governments.”
In line with the Republican establishment, Trump is pushing to “repeal and replace” Obamacare (which would have to be done through Congress). More than 20 million people are insured through Obamacare, and Trump and other Republican leaders have pledged to come up with a replacement that allows them all to retain their coverage. The details of what that replacement would be, though, are still very unclear.
On Trump’s first day in office, he signed his first executive orderin an effort to chip away at Obamacare by directing federal officials to use all their authority to “provide greater flexibility to states” on the health law.
Less than a week before his inauguration, Trump claimed he was close to completing his plan to replace Obamacare, which he says will provide “insurance for everybody” and reduce costs by forcing drug companies to negotiate directly with the government. The plan also proposes converting federal funds for Medicaid into block grants to states, altering how millions of low-income people receive their health care.
Amid the skyrocketing cost of private and public universities, student debt has reached historic highs. More Americans than ever before are attending college. That’s generally considered a good thing, but about 40 million of them — up from 29 million in 2008 — are currently paying off student loans. On average, borrowers are carrying $29,000 in loans (up from $23,000 in 2008). That amounts to roughly $1.2 trillion in student debt, three times what it was 10 years ago. According to recent data from the U.S. Department of Education, nearly 7 million Americans in the past year defaulted (failed to make a payment for over a year) on their federal student loans.
What Trump wants to do …
Trump has said very little regarding college affordability. He’s acknowledged the rising cost of higher education and said that he wants to help people struggling with student loan debt, but has offered little in the way of specific proposals. His education secretary nominee, Betsy DeVos, also revealed very little during her Senate confirmation hearings on how she’d manage an agency that oversees thousands of colleges and universities and trillions of dollars of federal educational loans and grants .