Undoing Obama

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (L) gives a thumbs up sign as he walks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) o
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump (L) gives a thumbs up sign as he walks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

On January 20, President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn into office and he promises to hit the ground running with a flurry of actions that will undo regulations enacted by President Barack Obama. "Regulations are coming off," he said to the crowd gathered at his New Year's Eve party at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida retreat. Republican lawmakers, who will soon control both houses of Congress, have made undoing Obama's legacy their top priority.

Of course, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is the prime Republican target for repeal. They have described the law as a disaster, and have charged it has increased health care costs for many individuals and small businesses. In truth, the ACA track record is more mixed. Nonetheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that repeal would not mean that those receiving health care through the law will lose coverage. "This has to be done carefully," he said, "It has to be done in a phased-in way over a period of time." However, it is unclear how Republicans plan to replace the ACA.

Obamacare has remained unpopular with the American public despite all of the benefits it provides. About 20 million Americans have health insurance through Obamacare exchanges or Medicaid expansion. Senior citizens pay less for Medicare coverage and prescription drugs under the law. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that repeal of Obamacare would increase Medicare spending by $802 billion over 10 years. Obamacare totally eliminates the donut hole in Medicare prescription drug coverage by 2020. All of these costs will be passed on to beneficiaries. Repeal may also mean that children up to 26 would no longer be automatically covered by their family policy, and those with pre-existing health conditions can again be denied health insurance coverage.

Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Twitter Monday, "The GOP wants to dismantle ACA & consequently increase costs. It's wrong. It will have an major impact on hardworking families & raise taxes." She also warned that Republicans want to "dismantle Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid." Many Republicans are for making changes in all of these entitlement programs in order to rein in government costs.

President-elect Trump and Republicans also want to undo the many regulations President Obama has enacted. They have their eyes set on the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which includes the "Volcker Rule" that restricts banks from trading for profits. Dodd-Frank, which was enacted following the 2008 financial crisis, calls for a series of reforms meant to decrease risk in the financial system. A Trump administration is likely to slow these regulations and rewrite the law.

Trump will also go after several environmental regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan is likely to be repealed. It calls for a 32 percent cut in the power sector's carbon emissions by 2030. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineer's Clean Water Rule is likely to be scrapped. It makes small waterways, like wetlands and ponds, subject to federal rules much to the ire of many businesses. The EPA's rule to limit ground-level Ozone, which is largely the byproduct of fossil fuels, is likely not to be strictly enforced under a Trump administration. And Trump wants to eliminate rules that make hydraulic fracturing more difficult.

These measures enacted by Obama were all an effort to protect Americans and make the environment safer. But Trump is a world class self-promoter and businessman whose priority it is to undo Obama's regulations and legacy. This, he says, will create new jobs and strengthen the economy. However, many economists say ending regulations has not historically led to a large increase in jobs. But it sure is likely to help short-term profits for corporations so the rich can get richer.

This is how Trump will make America great again!