How Trump is Going to Erase Obama’s Policies

As of January 20th 2017, Donald J. Trump is now officially President Donald J. Trump.  The United States has never been so divided and anxious before, as people on both sides are eager to see how President Trump is going to run the country. Is he going to hold his word and do all of the things he promised in his campaign? Republicans hope that he makes large fundamental changes to the government, essentially wiping clear the “horrible policies” of Obama. Democrats, on the other hand, are terrified that he is going to ‘undo all of the progress made under the Obama administration and bring the United States back a hundred years.’

So what will he do? Well, ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt, a lot of the president’s legacy is determined by what he does with his first one hundred days in office. Now it has only been five days, but within these five days, he has passed several executive orders that have made Republicans happy and Democrats cringe. For the rest of the paper, I will discuss several Obama- era policies that Trump has already begun to wipe clean and how they will change under the new administration. These policies are: EPA regulation, immigration (along the Mexican border only no mention of the policies towards the Middle East), the pipeline, abortion, the Affordable Care Act, and business and trade. I will first give a brief overview of what these policies looked like under the Obama administration, how Trump has already begun to wipe clean these policies, and what we should expect to see he replaces them with. This paper does not go into great detail on any of the above policies, but rather gives a general overview of them all.

To begin with, let’s start with the EPA or the Environmental Protection Agency. Under the Obama Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency expanded its power immensely. The main and the most controversial way it did this was through “regulatory disapprovals” and “federal implementation plans.” [1] Regulatory disapprovals occur when the EPA rejects states’ plans to meet federal environmental standards, and when the states have plans that violate the updated (during Obama’s first term) Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, the EPA can take over the states’ plans and make them the way it wants.[2] Republicans argued that this infringes on states’ rights and hurts business, and democrats argue that it is necessary to help combat the effects of global warming.

Trump plans to curtail and even reverse the growth of the EPA by hiring Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the agency. Pruitt is a major critic of the organization and has sued it for invoking upon states rights in the past.[3] This move, putting a critic of an organization as its head to reduce its power, was made famous by Regan and has been the key way in which republicans have taken power away from government organizations they do not like (such as the CDC, the FDA, the EPA, and FEMA to name a few). Trump also is “halting all the grant programs” for the EPA, blocking all regulations that came in Obama’s last weeks in office that have not went into effect yet until he screens them, and even halting the agency and its workers from speaking to the media (and even posting on social media). [4] If this trend continues we should expect to see a much weaker EPA under the Trump administration, which he believes will boost business and encourage business to remain in the United States.

Next we will discuss immigration and the wall. Under Obama, a major complaint was that our border with Mexico was not secure and that illegal immigrants were pouring into the country. He also received a lot of heat for allowing around 600,000 children who were brought here illegally to get work permits, and also trying to allow their parents to get them too (although this has not passed the Supreme Court yet).[5] Furthermore, under the Obama administration, some cities became sanctuary cities or cities that do not enforce all the immigration laws.[6] However, during Obama’s presidency, the number of deportations was at an all time high.[7]

Trump has already taken major steps to wipe clean these policies by passing legislation that allows for the immediate deportation of immigrants who are either guilty or suspected of crimes, giving the police the power to act as immigration officers, and increasing the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers by 10,000 (not including the extra 5,000 border patrol officers to be hired).[8] Next, Trump ordered the “Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security to block federal grants” from sanctuary cities. Finally, as promised throughout his campaign, he has stated that a wall should be built on our southern border immediately and has stated that, “agencies should begin planning and identify funding for the project, including sending requests to Congress.”[9] So, it looks like under president Trump we can see a major increase in deportations and a decrease in immigration, both legal and illegal.

Another key political debate in which we will see Trump wipe out Obama’s policies is in regards to the construction of the Dakota Access and the Keystone Oil Pipelines. Under the Obama administration the construction of these pipelines was blocked (the Dakota Access Pipeline was essentially filibustered and the Keystone Oil Pipeline was rejected by Obama).[10] However, Trump order that they hurry up on the Dakota Access Pipeline and, “signed an executive memorandum inviting TransCanada to promptly resubmit its application to the Department of State for a presidential permit.”[11] Trump believes that these pipelines will create jobs and even insisted that they be made with American steel.[12] Therefore, it looks quite probable that these pipelines will be built in the near future, however they are not as big of an issue for both side as some others that are discussed in this paper.

Next we will discuss how abortion and Planned Parenthood will change under President Trump. The Obama Administration was very favorable to Planned Parenthood, and only tired to protect the right to an abortion given by Roe v Wade.[13] Trump on the other hand is not. He has already signed and order that restricts “international non-governmental organizations that perform or promote abortions from receiving US government funding.”[14] This is called the Mexico City Policy and was first enacted by Regan. While this does thwart women in other countries from getting abortions (because there will be less abortion clinics), it does nothing to affect abortion clinics in the United States. Furthermore, this law has been consistently revoked and reenacted depending on the president’s party (democrats revoke it republicans reenact it). It is more just a symbol showing that President Trump does not support abortion and given the chance, which is going to be very difficult, he will end it within the United States as well. The only way we can see this law being changed would be through the Supreme Court, and it is highly unlikely because once a right is given it is hard to take it away, and it is political death in the United States to be the party know for taking peoples’ rights away.

One of the biggest pieces of legislation that Trump plans to do away with is the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act was passed under Obama, mostly through executive orders, in 2010. It allows millions of United States citizens the ability to receive health insurance that they would not have been able to afford (by giving them government subsidies). This means that people with a history of illness will not be kicked from their plans and all people can get health insurance. However, while Republicans agree that some type of healthcare reform was necessary, they widely criticized the Affordable Care Act. They believed that it destroyed competition in the healthcare industry by not allowing customers to choose their coverage.[15] Also, it left some customers paying too high of a premium because it mandated people to have healthcare, but did not put any regulations on insurance companies raising their premiums.[16]

So, President Trump has already begun to attack the Affordable Care Act in his first day in office. He signed an order that allows certain key aspects of the act to be ignored such as the penalty for not enrolling and fines for small businesses that do not offer it to their employees.[17] This is a small step in the repeal and replacement (Republicans agree that there needs to be an affordable way for all Americans to get health care) of the Affordable Care Act. However, taking down large parts of the act are going to be much more difficult because a lot of it is controlled law and numerous regulations, which can not be taken down by executive order.[18] Therefore, while it seems president trump is determined to take down the Affordable Care Act it is going to be a long, complex, careful process. Furthermore, it is likely that in order to make any major changes the republicans must accomplish them in the House and the Senate (which they have majorities in both). However, they may not come right away because they have not fully agreed on what to replace it with.

Finally, let us discuss business and trade under President Trump. Trump, and other Republicans believe that the Obama Administration’s regulations have killed business in the United States (although the US economy is near full employment and near the 3% annual GDP growth target). They argue that jobs are fleeing because of EPA regulations, illegal immigrants are taking US citizens’ jobs and not paying taxes or into social security, and the Affordable Care Act is crushing small business by forcing them to give their employees health care. He wants to loosen environmental regulations in order to make it cheaper for companies to manufacture in the United States and in turn save American jobs at home.  Also, he wants to make sure that everyone pays taxes and into social security by cracking down on illegal immigrants. Lastly, he wants to promote small business by untethering them from the financial burden of given employees health care coverage. To couple with, this Trump plans major tax cuts to bolster spending and in turn grow the economy.

Another way in which Trump plans to grow business, is to stop the outflow of American jobs. He plans to do this by removing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal. In his first day in office, he signed an executive order that effectively removed the United States from the deal that was negotiated under the Obama Administration and was supposed to boost the trade between the countries involved.[19] Trump argued that we were not making enough of the rules for the trading agreement.[20] He also said that free trade with some of these low wage countries, such as Vietnam and Malaysia, would create a job vacuum where companies will move most of the operations to these countries to cut costs, and in turn many American will lose their jobs.[21] Critics of this say that this isolates the United States from a rapidly growing region and cements China as the head of trade in the region, replacing the United States.[22]

In conclusion, it seems that America under President Trump will start with a blank slate. Or on other words, many of the things that were done under the Obama Administration will be undone under the Trump Administration. Environmental regulations will be cut and the EPA’s strength and influence will be reduced. Immigration will slow, and deportations will rise along with Trump’s wall. We will build the pipelines that were rejected under the Obama administration, and the Mexico City Policy will be reinstated. We should also expect the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. Lastly, we will enter an era that is strictly about promoting business and protect jobs in the United States. These are the policies that will be passed under Trump; the effectiveness of them and the legacies of Obama and Trump will be largely determined on what happens in the next four years.


Baker, Peter. “Trump Abandons Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama’s Signature Trade        Deal.” New York Times. Published January 23, 2017.

Baker, Peter and Davenport, Coral. “Trump Revives Keystone Pipeline Rejected by

Obama.” New York Times. Published January 24, 2017.

Bradner, Eric. “ Trump picks Scott Pruitt to head EPA.” CNN politics. Published

December 8, 2016.

Desjardins, Lisa. “The 12 executive actions Trump has signed (so far).” PBS. Published        January 24, 2017.

Hill, Joshua. “Trump’s War On Environment Begins Anew With Censorship, Halting                        EPA Funding, & Revitalizing Keystone XL & Dakota Access Pipelines.” Clean        Technica. Published January 25, 2017.

Horsely, Scott. “ 5 Things To Know About Obama’s Enforcement Of Immigration        Laws.” NPR. Published August 31, 2016.

Koran, Laura. “Trump reverses abortion policy for aid to NGOs.” CNN Politics.        Published January 24, 2017.

Leonard, Kimberly. “Obama Administration Moves to Protect Planned Parenthood        Funding.” US News. Published December 14, 2016.

Luhby, Tami. “ Trump and Obamacare: Where we go from here.” CNN Money.

Published January 23, 2017.

Wolfgang, Ben. “Obama Administration Pumps Unprecedented Power into EPA.” The

Washington Times. Published June 26, 2013.

[1] Wolfgang, Ben. “Obama Administration Pumps Unprecedented Power into EPA.”        The Washington Times. Published June 26, 2013.


[2] Ben Wolfgang, “Obama Administration Pumps”

[3] Eric Bradner,“ Trump picks Scott Pruitt to head EPA.” CNN politics. Published

December 8, 2016.

[4] Joshua Hill, “Trump’s War On Environment Begins Anew With Censorship, Halting                        EPAFunding, & Revitalizing Keystone XL & Dakota Access Pipelines.” Clean        Technica.Published January 25.

[5] Scott Horsely, “ 5 Things To Know About Obama’s Enforcement Of Immigration Laws.” NPR.        Published August 31, 2016.

[6] Lisa Desjardins, “The 12 executive actions”

[7]  Scott Horsely, “ 5 Things To Know

[8] Lisa Desjardins, “The 12 executive actions Trump”

[9] Lisa Desjardins, “The 12 executive actions Trump”

[10] Peter Baker and Coral Davenport, “Trump Revives Keystone Pipeline Rejected by

Obama.” New York Times. Published January 24, 2017.

[11] Peter Baker and Coral Davenport, “Trump Revives Keystone”

[12] Peter Baker and Coral Davenport, “Trump Revives Keystone”

[13] Kimberly Leonard, “Obama Administration Moves to Protect Planned Parenthood        Funding.” US News. Published December 14, 2016.

[14] Laura Koran, “Trump reverses abortion policy for aid to NGOs.” CNN Politics. Published January 24, 2017.

[15] Tami Luhby, “ Trump and Obamacare: Where we go from here.” CNN Money.

Published January 23, 2017.

[16] Tami Luhby, “ Trump and Obamacare”

[17] Tami Luhby, “ Trump and Obamacare”

[18] Tami Luhby, “ Trump and Obamacare”

[19] Peter Baker, “Trump Abandons Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama’s Signature Trade        Deal.”New York Times. Published January 23, 2017.

[20] Peter Baker, “Trump Abandons”

[21] Peter Baker, “Trump Abandons”

[22] Peter Baker, “Trump Abandons”

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