As president of a university system, I often think in terms of mastering material and acing exams. With the election behind us, it’s time to see if Trump can deliver on his campaign promises and whether he is up to the myriad tests he’ll face as President of the United States. Will President Trump make the grade?
Here are five top tests on issues of key importance to Americans and true to my role as an educator, I’ve included the grading rubric right up front.
1. Protecting health care while repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA is complicated and many argue, expensive and inefficient. However, it did provide health insurance to millions who didn’t have it previously. Trump has said one of his first acts in office would be to repeal the ACA. That’s the easy part. The real question is ― how will the 20 million who now have health insurance retain it? Can Trump fulfill his promise to replace the ACA with a workable solution that doesn’t put anyone at risk?
He’ll get an A if health care costs don’t spiral upward while insurance is preserved and mandates are eliminated.
He’ll get an F if significant numbers of people who currently have health insurance lose it.
2. Eliminating unnecessary government regulation while protecting consumers. Regulations on the financial industry as well as those imposed by the Department of Education, Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Communications Commission are often intended to protect the un-empowered but perhaps, just as often, they end up inhibiting progress and growth.
He’ll get an A if he manages to eliminate pointless regulation while protecting consumers.
He’ll get an F if he repeals financial regulations such as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act without replacing it with measures that curb irresponsible behavior by financial institutions.
3. Improving America’s influence and role in the world without putting lives at risk. Trump has proclaimed “America first” as his foreign policy theme, insisting that no American citizen will ever again feel that their needs come second to the citizens of foreign countries.
He’ll get an A if he engages in assertive measures that promote the U.S.’s allies without committing additional American forces. An example of this would be making good on his campaign promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem.
He’ll get an F if he weakens U.S. influence or conversely, starts a war.
4. Balancing the need to secure our borders with a sense of compassion and appreciation for the value of immigrants to the U.S. The jobs, wages and security of the American people are top priority for Trump. His stated goals are to establish new immigration controls to boost wages and to ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first. He has expressed an interest in selecting immigrants based on their likelihood of success in the U.S. and their ability to be financially self-sufficient.
These goals, while preserving our self-interest, must also align with America’s core values. Since its founding, America has been a haven for the tired, poor, hungry and huddled masses yearning for freedom. Some of the immigrant groups who became most successful and contributed immeasurably to our country might not have been those most likely to succeed, had there been a pre-evaluation by those standards.
He’ll get an A if he can provide a pathway to residency for the 11 million immigrants who are not in the U.S. legally while limiting illegal immigration moving forward.
He’ll get an F if he starts deporting residents and establishing detention centers or fails to control borders.
5. Balancing public and private education in this country. Our elementary and high schools are failing many students and America has a lower percentage of college graduates than most Western countries. Both of these need fixes. Public education has a long history of service to our nation’s youth, and private education adds value by promoting competition, fostering excellence (in almost every ranking, few of the top 10 colleges are public) and educating students at lower cost to the taxpayer.
He’ll get an A if he manages to encourage charter schools and school choice without eviscerating the public school system. On the higher education front, promoting private universities that add value for students with responsible but not overreaching regulation will earn him top grades.
He’ll get an F if he fails to address an education system that doesn’t always serve its citizens well.