It was FDR who started the tradition of measuring the success of a new presidential term by the first 100 days. FDR had a brilliant record in that regard, hence the benchmark. And so, because America does best when its president does well, this is my complete to-do list for the first 100 days.
Appointments. The new Trump administration will have approximately 4,000 critical appointments to make, a cabinet to fill and judicial vacancies to plug. Vet well or else, as Clinton and Bush discovered. The first Clinton administration failed to vet its candidates for attorney general (which had to fill a gender quota) and ended up with the hurried appointment of Janet Reno. President George H.W. Bush nominated former Texas Sen. John Tower to become Secretary of Defense. Tower was rejected by the U.S. Senate, the first time the Senate had rejected a Cabinet nominee of a newly elected President.
Then there is the issue of immediately submitting a nominee to fill the United States Supreme Court vacancy. Earlier in the campaign, Candidate Trump released a list of 20 potential nominees for that position. While liberals and judicial activists will object to the entire list, none should be disqualified for that reason. All of these announced candidates deserve a hearing and confirmation. Elections have consequences and newly elected presidents are entitled to confirmation of their nominees.
Immigration. Candidate Trump started his campaign by promising to build a wall along our southern border and to deport all illegal aliens. Later in the campaign, he added a ban on Muslims. The wall has to be part of any immigration reform package. Controlling our borders is a vital national interest. It may, in fact, require additional walls, or a fence or other virtual technologies. A part of this package should include deporting all non-citizens who have been arrested for serious crimes. This clearly would represent a compromise, but at the same time should include provisions similar to the Gang of Eight proposal which passed the U.S. Senate. That proposal included a path to citizenship for otherwise law-abiding illegals presently in the United States. Because this proposal had as co-sponsors Sens. Jeff Flake, Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Marco Rubio (all currently serving), this package would have an excellent chance of passage.
Infrastructure. Candidate Trump talked frequently about a $1 trillion American infrastructure rebuilding program. A smart infrastructure package would include corporate tax reform to help pay for the program. It is variously reported that U.S. companies “expatriate” anywhere from $2 trillion to $3 trillion beyond our borders. And the corporate income tax of 35 percent levied on a worldwide basis (unlike almost any other industrial country) puts American companies at great disadvantage. A dedicated tax on all returned “expatriated” funds plus dynamic scoring of a reduction in corporate income tax could easily equal the amount necessary to fund a $1 trillion infrastructure program. Such a package would draw wide bipartisan support—as well it should.
Repeal of Obamacare. Fairly or unfairly, and coincident with rapidly rising health care premiums, repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became a rallying cry for the Trump election. But even here, a compromise is possible. First, as President-elect Trump stated, any reform should continue to outlaw insurance underwriting that excludes people with pre-existing conditions, and require inclusion of all children under 26 on their parents’ policies. Medicaid expansion is part of the ACA, but currently costs approximately $500 billion a year. Some Republican governors, like John Kasich of Ohio and Vice President-elect Mike Pence of Indiana, established successful public health insurance reforms including Medicaid expansion in their respective states. A number of other states have dealt with their specific circumstances in different ways. Part of the health care reform package therefore should include state waivers and probably a fixed block grant to each state.
Removing regulation. There is a long list of federal bureaucratic barnacles that have attached to our economy and need to be scraped off. More to the point, and most worthy of 100-day headlines, would be the repeal of most of Dodd-Frank, the scrapping of the so-called “fiduciary rule” and a repeal of the Department of Labor’s new regulations defining overtime. Allowing regional banks to merge would also increase banking competition. While the details are complex, the broad impact would be economically positive. If you doubt that, just ask your favorite asset manager.
Protestors. Protesting and marching on Washington is a cherished American right deserving of respect and, when necessary, police protection. But before you grab that placard in both hands, let me ask you a few questions. Did you vote? Did you make sure your neighbor, spouse, significant other, or roommate voted? Did you participate in local campaign activities? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then grab a mirror in both hands and look into it. Elections have consequences. And while you’re at it, grab a calendar. Two years will pass before you know it.
Vance K. Opperman For a Successful 100 Days
Vance K. Opperman (email@example.com) is owner and CEO of MSP Communications, which publishes Twin Cities Business.