The first 5 days of Trump’s presidency have passed in a blizzard of news, rumors, and outlandish statements. The circus atmosphere that has carried over from the campaign has made it hard to keep up with what’s important, and what’s actually been done versus what’s rumor. So it seems like we should summarize what’s happened, because Trump’s first 5 days have been about as bad as could be expected. Trump has acted, or is expected to act, to make good on many of his worst campaign promises:
- Authorized Health & Human Services to delay or waive any Obamacare provisions that could be construed as a financial or regulatory burden on states or individuals.
- Blocked any aid from going to foreign non-governmental organizations that even mention abortion.
- Ordered expedited review and approval for the Dakota Access Pipeline and invited resubmittal of permit application for the Keystone XL Pipeline.
- Directed Homeland Security to begin planning and constructing a border wall on the Mexican border, along with additional detention facilities.
- Prohibited federal grants to sanctuary cities.
- Expanded the priorities for deporting undocumented migrants.
- Ordered the creation of anti-immigrant propaganda in the form of a weekly list of crimes committed in sanctuary cities and the creation of a special office for victims of those crimes.
- Declared his intention to launch an investigation into baseless lies that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote in the election.
In addition, four leaked executive orders suggest Trump will take the following actions:
- Suspend entry into the US from several Muslim nations, and suspends all refugee admissions into the US for 120 days.
- Repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shielded people who came to the US as children from being deported.
- Take several actions to reduce legal immigration and expand workplace raids on places that employ workers using visa programs.
- Take several actions to make social services unavailable to immigrants.
On top of all of that, there have been troubling actions to remove research on climate change from government websites, and order that basic government research go through political reviews before being released.
The actual impact of some of these orders is hard to tell, because they are vague or because Congress would have to appropriate funds. But it seems unmistakable that other than locking Hillary up, Trump intends to carry through on his campaign promises, and many of these actions, particularly those pertaining to deporting, rejecting, and demonizing immigrants, can be carried out without Congress.
In light of all that, it again seems a little ridiculous to talk about transportation and housing, but let’s have a go for old time’s sake:
- The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs voted to confirm Ben Carson as HUD secretary, with all the committee’s Democrats voting in favor. What they are getting in exchange for voting for a wildly unqualified candidate, other than a share of the blame for screw-ups, is beyond me. I guess all that remains to be seen is if he screws up through benign neglect or malign neglect.
- About a week ago, it was reported that Trump’s first budget would draw from a Heritage Foundation plan that would zero out funding for the Federal Transit Administration, the New Starts transit capital investment fund, and Amtrak. Then yesterday a leaked document listed 50 priority infrastructure projects, including Amtrak’s Gateway project and 2 Ave Subway Phases 2 &3 (and more mysteriously, the privately funded Cadiz water export project and Huntington Beach desalination plant in southern California). Then that document was claimed to not be from the transition team, just from a consulting firm, and then others insisted it was from the transition team.
So, whatever, believe whatever you want on transportation and infrastructure. That won’t be funded by executive order, so Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell will have some say in what it is.
As for me, if the price of getting a few transit lines built is total surrender on climate change, immigration, health care, reproductive rights, and basic decency, count me the fuck out.