By Dan Thomasson
WASHINGTON — Franklin Roosevelt famously began his first 100 days in office frantically trying to deal with an historic economic depression that already was 3 years old and had reached crisis-level proportions. Nearly two terms in the White House later, his efforts were incomplete.
Donald Trump, through the Republican National Committee, has issued a list of 30 goals he hopes to achieve in his first year, and he’s asked recipients their opinion about the priority each should be given — high or low. The list not only makes Roosevelt’s proposals look anemic but the ideas would also change the nation, for better or worse, in ways hardly ever imagined.
The list begins with key Trump campaign promises and ends with the president-elect pledging to cancel every “unconstitutional” action taken by Barack Obama. In between are two dozen objectives that would reshape the size of government, restrict congressional service through term limits and pretty much abandon the current public school system, among other things.
Much of this super-ambitious agenda has been around a long time, including congressional term limits, first proposed by Lyndon Johnson in his 1965 state of the union address. The idea of school choice, permitting the use of taxpayer money to finance charter and parochial schools, is a long-time conservative Republican goal.
Other Trump agenda items, such as the “clean up Washington corruption act,” are just naturally what should be expected of any presidential administration, including Trump’s, where there is growing concern about potential ethical conflicts between his private and official public dealings.
At the top of the list are two enormously controversial and expensive items — the construction of the wall along the country’s border with Mexico, and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which has been a thorn in the side of Republicans for Obama’s entire time in the White House.
The cost of constructing such a wall has been estimated as high as $800 billion, which seems like a lot of money for a barrier that a growing number of experts contend won’t do much more than slow down the tide of illegal immigration, if it works at all. Also, its moral (make that immoral) implications throw into question this country’s reputation of being one of the most welcoming in world history.
As for the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, the GOP mill in Congress is already grinding it out with Democrats, who are trying to stall outright repeal until Republicans come up with a replacement that saves major features on which there already is bipartisan agreement.
These include transportability of policies, no disqualification for pre-existing conditions and the coverage of children on parent’s insurance until age 26. This is expected to take well into summer.
Also near the top of the Trump priority survey is the appointment and confirmation of a “strong constitutionalist” to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Confirmation is expected to be highly contentious, but outnumbered Democrats will be hard put to hold off Senate approval.
The agenda also includes approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline project, which Obama rejected; and the passage of a package to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. Among what would be the more difficult and time-consuming goals is a proposal to “unleash a middleclass tax relief” act.
Trump also wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Act and withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. He wants to lift restrictions on $50 trillion worth of developable shale, oil and “clean coal.” He also would end the ban on offshore drilling. Good luck.
He would cancel billions of dollars in contributions to the U.N.’s climate change programs, remove “two million criminal aliens,” introduce plans to defeat the Islamic State, establish “America First” foreign policy through “peace and strength,” and at the same time end any policy sequestering defense funds. Whew!
And on the seventh day …
There is enough on this list to occupy most mortals for decades, and the consequences of these actions, if carried out, could certainly reminder us all that one should be careful what one wishes for.
The fact is, accomplishing even a good portion of the agenda will require a second term.
As one of those asked online to prioritize each proposed initiative, I decided against taking the survey. That’s not my job, for obvious reasons.
Roosevelt started out with 100 days. The Depression ended seven years later, and it took a war to do it.
Dan Thomasson is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service and a former vice president of Scripps Howard Newspapers. Readers may send him email at: firstname.lastname@example.org .