Why should science matter to our presidential candidates? As you’ll see in the accompanying video,…
As Donald Trump begins his term as the 45th president, several NIU political science professors expect him to undo policies of the Barack Obama administration and to address taxes, immigration, health care, climate change and trade agreements.
“The single most important issue that needs to be addressed is growing wealth inequality and the decreasing number of middle-class Americans,” said Artemus Ward, an NIU political science professor and a faculty associate at the College of Law. “Why? Because the last time the U.S. had such a disparity in wealth was before the Great Depression.”
Trump’s platform calls for reducing taxes across the board, especially for working and middle-income Americans, and reducing the cost of childcare. Families would be allowed to fully deduct the average cost of childcare from their taxes, including stay-at-home parents.
“His plan also includes reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to three, cutting corporate taxes, eliminating the estate tax and increasing the standard deduction for individual filers,” said April Clark, an assistant professor in NIU’s Department of Political Science.
Under the individual income tax plan, the rate for married joint filers would be 12 percent for less than a $75,000 income, 25 percent between $75,000 and $225,000 and 33 percent for more than $225,000. Income brackets for single filers would be half of these amounts.
The corporate tax rate would be reduced from 35 percent to 15 percent to help small and large companies and to make the United States an attractive place for business.
Trump has also talked about creating 25 million new jobs over the next decade and bringing back jobs that have been lost to other countries.
His platform states that new immigration controls will boost wages and ensure that jobs are offered to Americans first. To keep unauthorized immigrants out, he plans to build a wall along the southern border and have Mexico pay for it.
“While a major campaign pledge was to reverse Obama’s executive order that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Trump has backed away from calling for the forced deportation of the more than 11 million undocumented migrants living on U.S. soil,” Clark said. “More immediately, we should expect a concerted effort to carry out the promise to deport all undocumented immigrants with criminal records.”
DACA allows certain undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.
During his campaign, Trump promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, on his first day of presidency. Within hours of his inauguration on Friday, he issued an executive order instructing federal agencies to minimize the economic and regulatory burdens of the law. The order also states that his administration will seek prompt repeal of the law.
“Whether Senate Democrats can stop such an attempt with a filibuster remains to be seen. What, if anything, will replace it is also unclear,” political science professor Matt Streb said. “And while Trump hammered the Affordable Care Act on the campaign trail, he has supported certain provisions in it. So whether he supports a full repeal is not certain.”
Trump has supported an alternative that would give states greater control over their health plans and allow more competition across state lines, Clark said.
“With Republicans in command of Congress,” she said, “revoking Obamacare seems a real possibility.”
Dismantling Obamacare will be contingent upon the backlash that Republicans could face from millions of Americans losing that health care coverage, she added. An estimated 20 million people gained health insurance coverage because of Obamacare, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
“The GOP has multiple plans and most of these focus first on driving down the cost of health care, expanding access to consumer-directed health arrangements, like health savings accounts, and replacing Obamacare’s exchange subsidies with a refundable tax credit or some other tax benefit to help lower-income Americans afford health insurance,” Clark said.
Recent reports suggest that the Republican leaders in Congress are planning a “repeal and delay” strategy for Obamacare, she said, meaning the act would be repealed, but the repeal wouldn’t take effect for a few years to buy time to craft a replacement.
Ward does not expect Republicans to solve the nation’s ongoing health care crisis and says it may even be exacerbated.
While the Obama administration has taken major steps to address the threat of climate change, Clark said, this issue is expected to be largely ignored or contested by the Trump administration.
“This expectation is founded on Trump’s position that climate change is a hoax, his pledge to dismantle Barack Obama’s environmental legacy and his nomination of Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general, to head the Environmental Protection Agency,” Clark said, citing Pruitt’s close ties to coal and gas companies and related lobbyists.
As far as trade deals, Trump is expected to withdraw from negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and has talked about reopening negotiations on other signed pacts. The TPP was designed to help increase American exports, grow the economy, support jobs and strengthen the middle class. The TPP members are the U.S., Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.
He has also suggested that Mexico and China have engaged in unfair trade practices with the U.S., Clark said, so we may see reform measures with these countries.
While Trump acts self-assured as he talks about his plans, he will need to figure out how to gather support. His interaction with Congress will be one of the most fascinating aspects to watch, Streb said.
“Trump will learn that governing is much different than running a business,” Streb said. “Although there are some things that he can do on his own, he can do little without the support of Congress. Senate Democrats will no doubt use the filibuster on some bills, but Trump will find opposition from his own party on other issues, such as trade. His relationship with his party’s congressional leaders is already strained.”
“His campaign was unlike anything we have ever seen before and the transition is much different than the norm as well. There are serious questions regarding what his leadership style will be, what his governing style will be and how engaged he will be,” Streb said.
What will likely sink Trump’s presidency is opposition from his own party, Ward said, by both Republicans in government and the electorate.
Trump will likely be the president who presides over the end of the modern Republican era, which began in 1981 with the election of Ronald Reagan, Ward said.
“Past presidents who served at the end of their political regimes were unable to solve the problems of the day and opened the door for their opponents to reconstruct or remake American politics by changing the ideological direction of the country and uniting a new coalition of interests into a stable governing majority," he said.