Trump has made it clear that he does not
approve of free markets like the Republicans do. He is
particularly skeptical about multi-lateral trade deals where American firms are free to
outsource the production of their goods. In his inauguration ceremony
speech, Trump made it clear that he would secure the American borders,
and America would only consume American products made in America by
Americans. He said that he would engage in international trade only if
the United States were to benefit.
Cleaning up the System
Among the policies that Trump is likely to abolish instantly is the
$10.10 minimum wage per hour for federal contractors, and the executive
order demanding government procurement officers to provide paid sick
leave to their workers. He will also scrap Obama's DACA policy which
aims at granting legal residency rights to scores of illegal immigrants
who migrated to the country in their childhood.
Asked if he was planning to wreck the Obama's legacy, in a recent Fox
News interview, Trump said he had no such intentions. However, he stated
that he was very open-minded about climate change, adding that he
believed that nobody understands the underlying issues. Before and
during the 2016 presidential campaigns, President Trump apparently
demonized climate science. He even asserted that the notion that human
activity influences climate is a Chinese hoax aimed at promoting China's
Trump's Controversial Appointments
Trump's selection of some leaders of agencies seems like a calculated
move to frustrate the Obama's legacy. He appointed Tom Price as head of
the Department of Health and Human Services. Tom Price is a top critic
of the Obamacare, a health care law which was devised by the Obama
administration. President Trump also chose Scott Pruit, the Oklahoma
Attorney General to administrate over the Environment Protection Agency
(EPA). Scott had earlier sued the body over the Clean Power Plan (CPP),
which had been announced by President Obama in August 2015. Trump then
picked Rex Tillerson, the Exxon Mobil CEO, as Secretary of State. Rex
Tillerson promises to collapse one of the Obama's major policies on the
environment within his first 100 days in the office.
Trump insists that he made all his appointments with the best interest
of the American citizen. He said that the new heads would streamline the
interaction between the government and businesses. Citing the EPA's
appointment, Trump expressed his frustration in the amount of time that
the organization takes to approve applications from entrepreneurs
looking to start industries. He said that some wait for up to 15 years
only for the body to eventually reject. According to Trump, this was
making the United States unattractive to investors.
Extensive Judicial Activity
With the United States being a well-established democracy, reverting
some of the Obama administration's policies will not be easy. Many
environmental organizations are preparing to oppose any anti-climate
action that Trump's government could raise. Several attorneys general
from various states vow to sue the Federal Government if it attempts to
undermine environmental and climate change policies.
It looks like it will be the court to decide the fate of some of the
Obama policies that Trump's administration opposes. We cannot predict
what the rulings will be at this moment as the President of the US will
nominate a new Supreme Court Justice. He will also make at least 100
appointments to fill judicial vacancies all over the country.
Legal experts feel that dismantling the Clean Power Plan will not be a
walk in the park for Donald Trump. The CPP is already at the center of
an aggressive litigation process at the United States Court of Appeals
for DC Circuit. 24 states and industrial groups argue that EPA
overstepped its mandate under the Clean Air Act. Since the hearing in
September 2016, the court has not been able to make a ruling. If Donald
Trump's administration scraps or alters the CPP, the country can only
expect more drama in the courts.
One option for EPA under Trump would be to request the DC Circuit for a
Voluntary Remand which would pause the case as the organization reviews
the grievances. If the DC Circuit agrees, EPA could buy time in the
pretense of assessing the matter and in turn stall the implementation of
the CPP regulations. However, this will raise an uproar from various
state attorneys general who wrote to Donald Trump last December warning
him against taking this channel.
Lawsuits will still arise if the government waits for a ruling and later
disbands the CPP. This is because the Clean Air Act obligates EPA to
curtail the emission of air pollutants. Therefore, such actions from EPA
will mean that the organization will be in contradiction with itself.
EPA had presented a report to the Supreme Court in 2009 supporting the
claims that carbon dioxide and some other five emissions were the
primary cause of global warming. Hence, it will not make sense for EPA
to withdraw the statement.
Whether or not Donald Trump intends to undermine the Obama legacy, the
nature of each policy will determine if he can freely reverse it. He
will require careful litigation to succeed. Below is a highlight of the
categories of policies and what the administration will need to change
or abolish any of them.
These are declarations made by the president. They govern agencies of
the executive such as the Treasury, Defense, and Labor. The president
will reverse this kind of policies at will.
Discretionary Agency Directives
These rules result from the interpretation of the federal law by the
lawyers of the white house. They operate when they are in force, but
they are not effective on the law. Trump will also be at liberty to
These regulations have the full force of the law. They are passed by
federal agencies under the authority of the Congress. Putting them in
place is a complicated process, and reversing them requires the same
amount of effort. The administration will have to justify its reason for
making any changes to such policies.