Washington Week

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Trump vs. Clinton: First 100 Days


By Jenna Goff and Joan Greve

Washington Week Fellows


Even as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump eye the tightening polls in advance of Election Day, both candidates are also looking ahead to their perspective presidencies. The first 100 days of a new White House has defined presidential legacies ever since Franklin Roosevelt hit the ground running with a “New Deal” to pull the country out of the Great Depression.


Although America does not currently face such an historic economic crisis, President Clinton or President Trump will still likely be judged by her or his first few months in office. And their respective plans for those first 100 days could not look more different.


Hillary Clinton

Clinton’s plan for her first 100 days relies on two policy priorities: infrastructure and immigration. On infrastructure, Clinton has called for $275 billion in spending on “new roads and bridges and tunnels and ports and airports and water systems a new electric grid,” as she laid out during a July rally in Johnstown, Penn.


The Democratic nominee has promised that such a large-scale infrastructure investment would create many “new, good paying jobs,” particularly for areas where manufacturing jobs have declined in recent years. This concern over outsourced manufacturing jobs has also contributed to Clinton’s call for a federal trade prosecutor, to investigate cases that may have cost Americans their jobs, and an investment in clean energy technologies, which could potentially recuperate some of those lost jobs.


Many of these infrastructure proposals would require approval from Congress, as would Clinton’s other principal issue for her first 100 days: immigration. The Democratic nominee has pledged to introduce an immigration bill to Congress, which would include a pathway to citizenship, during her first 100 days in office. But Clinton’s promise to introduce, rather than pass, such a bill could point to what many politicians already suspect--that working with congressional Republicans could prove nearly impossible.


The Republican Chair of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz of Utah, has already vowed to hold “years” of investigations into Clinton should she be elected. Both Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas have even implied that they would stall any Supreme Court nominee that Clinton put forth. (McCain later walked back his comments, but Cruz has not.)


Clinton would need congressional approval on almost all of her first 100 days initiatives, which also include overturning Citizens United and raising the federal minimum wage. During her time on Capitol Hill, the former New York senator did develop a reputation for working across the aisle to pass bipartisan legislation, as did her husband when he was president. But, as former Republican Rep. Tom David of Virginia told NPR, “The world has changed since that time.” Given how bitterly divided the two major political parties currently are, congressional Republicans may not have much incentive to compromise with a Democratic president.


Still, Clinton has promised to “break the gridlock in Washington,” starting in her first 100 days. Even if Republicans seem immovable to her policy agenda, she could still try to sway them--possibly over a stiff drink.


Donald Trump

If elected, President Trump would have a hefty to-do list his first 100 days in office. He laid out his policy in a speech at Gettysburg last week, referring to his 100-day plan as “a contract between Donald J. Trump and the American people.”


On his first day in office, Trump would begin to “drain the swamp” in Washington by proposing a constitutional amendment to limit congressional terms and enacting a “hiring freeze” on all federal employees (except military, public health and safety officials). These moves, he hopes, would begin to undo the political establishment and create a “new government of, by and for the people.”


Another priority? Trade. Trump has vowed to immediately renegotiate NAFTA, the 90s trade deal that he has repeatedly called “one of the worst deals our country has ever made.” He would also withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and ask the Secretary of the Treasury to label China as a “currency manipulator.” Trump would also work with Congress to enact tariffs on countries that move overseas in order to keep more jobs and products in the United States.


Trump has long distanced himself from the Obama administration, and he would continue to do so in office. He plans to cancel “every unconstitutional action issued by President Obama,” including orders on health care, immigration and taxes. He would immediately repeal Obamacare, replacing it with Health Savings Accounts and interstate insurance marketing.


Immigration policy would also undergo major revisions under Trump, as he plans to immediately begin deporting the more than two million illegal immigrants who reside on American soil and halt immigration from countries with “a proven history of terrorism.” He would also appeal to Congress for authorization to build a wall on the Mexican border.

To round out his first 100 days in office, Trump would enact a multi-trillion dollar tax cut and an expansion of the military. “My 100 day plan [will] make America great again,” he said in Gettysburg. “On November 8th, Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our economy, security to our communities, and honesty to our government.”

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