Trump’s systematic dismantling of past policies
The Trump presidency is a reality show that is difficult to turn away from. The chaos is riveting. But, we cannot let the controversy and turmoil distract us from what Trump is actually accomplishing. His administration is fundamentally altering United States policy at home and abroad. Nothing is exempt, from undermining our global leadership to raising rents on some of the poorest families in America. One troubling theme emerging from the Trump White House is his obsession with President Obama. Trump is fixated on undoing just about everything President Obama achieved.
There are so many examples to choose from they could fill a book. In the future, they will, no doubt, fill many books. Just last week, Trump announced the United States was backing out of, or more accurately, violating, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. This is the Iran deal that was painstakingly negotiated between seven countries. The United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia — the five nations on the U.N. Security Council — plus Germany agreed on a framework to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Trump has repeatedly criticized the Obama administration’s success on this and has long threatened to walk away from it.
Last summer, Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord — a commitment made in 2015 by every country in the world, except two, to address the dangers of climate change. Again, he cast aside the work of the previous president with no substantive reasons for his actions and no alternative plan.
Here at home, it’s easier to identify the policies Trump hasn’t reversed. From health care and housing, to immigration and the environment, Trump is systematically undoing or trying to undo past progress.
It seems he’s forgotten real people are affected by these policies. Mothers seeking health care coverage for their children worry that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed. Seniors focused on balancing their budgets worry that affordable housing will be out of reach. Young women and men who were brought to our country as children live every day in fear they will be deported because Trump ripped up Obama’s DACA order that gave them peace of mind. People living with respiratory conditions worry their health will worsen because the Clean Air Act will be repealed or ignored.
Trump’s obsession with destroying the Affordable Care Act, a signature accomplishment of President Obama’s, is particularly troubling. He hasn’t yet succeeded in repealing the law but he’s finding lots of ways to undermine it.
Trump’s housing director, Ben Carson, recently proposed tripling the amount of money a low-income person must pay in order to access federal housing assistance. This policy change is a cruel burden on those who can least afford it. Single mothers will be most impacted if this goes into effect.
Trump campaigned on building a wall to keep Mexicans out of the United States. This is what is actually happening at the Mexican border: families fleeing violence in Central America are being refused entry or detained on entry. Parents and children are detained in separate facilities, cruelly and needlessly traumatizing innocent children. Trump’s appointees are threatening to prosecute as “human traffickers” parents who try to bring their own children to safety here. Trump nullified President Obama’s DACA policy, which treated “Dreamers” with compassion. These young people brought here as small children now worry they will be forced back to a country they don’t know, where they may not be able to speak the language. Trump is also systematically ending Temporary Protected Status, which was extended by both Republican and Democratic predecessors to persons whose home country had become unsafe through natural or human disasters.
Earlier this year, Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency to scrap the Clean Power Plan which sought to reduce carbon emissions. The EPA has reduced enforcement against polluters and scrubbed climate change data from its website. Trump also issued an executive order directing the EPA to repeal legislation protecting streams from pollution. A million people in Massachusetts get their drinking water from small streams, which are now more at risk of contamination.
At every turn, Trump is rolling back Obama’s regulations and abandoning policies that have improved the lives of all Americans. It is easy to get lost in the daily theatrics of the Trump administration or the president’s latest tweets. His bombast and his tirades all too often turn our attention away from his governing. We should not let ourselves be distracted. It’s important for all of us to remain focused on the issues and how the Trump administration is making circumstances worse for Americans by setting back progress on every front.
Rep. Michael E. Capuano represents the 7th Congressional District.