WASHINGTON — It all starts with the wall.
Donald Trump’s vow to build a wall along the border with Mexico, to make Mexico pay for it and to achieve iron-fisted control over illegal immigration stands as his leading promise, one that rang from the rafters countless times. But he owes his supporters — and now the country — much more than that.
While a lot of his agenda will be a hard sell, he won’t have the excuse used by many presidents whose promises have fallen short — a Congress in the hands of the opposing party. Trump will take office with a unified government, both the Senate and House under Republican control.
A look at some of his IOUs:
Trump promises six weeks of leave for new mothers, with the government paying wages equivalent to unemployment benefits. His plan also provides for a new income tax deduction for child care expenses, other tax benefits and a new rebate or tax credit for low-income families.
Trump promises to spend $20 billion during his first year to help states expand school choice programs. He wants states to divert an additional $110 billion of their own education money to help parents who want their children to go to other schools.
And he owes college students a big, and expensive, leg up. He says he will cap student loan payments at 12.5 percent of a borrower’s income, with loan forgiveness if they make payments for 15 years.
Trump vows to cut regulations as part of his effort to “unleash American energy.” This means allowing unfettered production of oil, clean coal, natural gas and other sources to push the U.S. toward energy independence and create jobs. In particular, he owes coal miners a revival of their livelihood, even though the industry’s decline is in large measure due to the rise of natural gas, which he also supports. He pledges to rescind the Clean Power Plan, a key element of President Barack Obama’s strategy to fight climate change.
Trump’s “America first” ethos means alliances and coalitions will not pass muster with him unless they produce a net benefit to the U.S. He speaks of a less interventionist approach to crises abroad — with the exception of his vow to crush the Islamic State group. Yet he also promises to spend much more to restore what he sees as depleted armed forces.
He’s vowed to repeal Obama’s health care law and replace it with something more affordable. With a Republican Congress, the pressure will be on to do so. It remains to be seen how far lawmakers and the president will actually go to untangle a law that has sunk some roots, and Democrats won’t be voiceless on this or other issues.
One paradox of the campaign is the lack of clarity about Trump’s intentions on an issue that defined him out of the gate. He clearly promises to stop the influx of Syrian refugees into the U.S., and somehow to help them overseas. He vows to deport people convicted of serious crimes who are in the U.S. illegally. And there’s that wall, which Mexicans insist they won’t pay for. But the fate of millions of people who are in the country illegally is a gray area — he’s not promising to deport them but also not saying he would give them legal status. He’d ban immigration of people from areas prone to extremism, but how that would be defined is unclear.
Trump vowed to double rival Hillary Clinton’s proposed spending on infrastructure. Taking him literally, that means a staggering $500 billion over five years.
Trump promises to renegotiate or withdraw from the multilateral deal that eased sanctions on Iran in return for controls on its nuclear program.
He expressed support for $10 an hour, while saying states should “really call the shots.” It’s $7.25 now.
Trump has promised not to cut Social Security.
Trump promised to nominate justices who are open to overturning the constitutional right to abortion and who support Second Amendment gun rights.
He owes Americans big tax cuts. He says he’ll collapse the current seven income tax brackets, which peak at 39.6 percent, into just three tiers with a top rate of 33 percent, slice the corporate income tax and eliminate the estate tax. Although analysts said the wealthy would benefit disproportionately, middle income people are promised a hefty reduction.
Trump promises to renegotiate or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. He also vows to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and to slap stinging tariffs on countries that the U.S. judges to be trading unfairly. China faces the risk of steep penalties — and U.S. consumers would pay higher prices as a result — if his vow is carried through.
Trump promises to expand programs that allow veterans to choose their doctor — regardless of whether they’re affiliated with the VA — and still receive government-paid medical care. He’s pledged to fire or discipline VA employees who fail veterans or breach the public trust. He also would increase mental health professionals and create a “White House hotline” dedicated to veterans. If a valid complaint is not addressed, “I will pick up the phone and fix it myself if I have to,” Trump pledged.