A common refrain among supporters of our new President is that we should judge him on what he does, not what he says. That’s a fair point, even though I would argue (vehemently, and with more than a few words that would make Mike Pence blush) that what he says is almost guaranteed to cause more harm than he’ll ever be able to balance out with his actions. If I’m to maintain any semblance of journalistic integrity, however, I have to at least try to look at these things fairly. At the very least it’ll help me stay informed so I can write even more crappy jokes.
At the time of this writing, President The Donald has issued five executive orders. Unless I missed one or two. It’s possible. Let me know.
1. He cancelled a Federal Housing Administration mortgage premium cut.
The FHA backs mortgages for home buyers with credit score problems and those who can only make a small down payment. It’s a popular program among low-income buyers and first-time homeowners. That cut, by the way, was of a whole quarter of a percentage point.
The verdict: I thought it was time to help regular old Americans. What an odd thing to mess with on your first day, especially given the optics. Thumbs down.
2. He signed an executive order instructing federal agencies to minimize the financial burden of the Affordable Care Act on organizations and individuals.
This mostly applies to the ACA’s individual mandate, which requires individuals to have health insurance. It likely means we’ll see the penalties imposed on those who don’t have insurance waived.
The verdict: As a dirty fucking socialist, I was rather disappointed with the ACA. Sure, it helped millions of people get healthcare that wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, but health insurance companies are parasites on the ass of society and they need to be launched into the sun. Single-payer or bust, yo. However…getting those people healthcare was a positive step, and tearing down the provision that makes all of that possible—that loathsome individual mandate—doesn’t bode well, especially when all we know so far about the supposed replacement for the ACA is just “it’ll be great, you’ll see!” Thumbs down.
3. He withdrew the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership.
An attempt to open up free trade across Asia and sort of box in China, the TPP’s long been an issue on both sides of the aisle.
The verdict: Thumbs way the fuck up. Seriously. I can’t get them high enough. I’d have to launch them from my hands like rockets headed for the moon. It’s entirely possible the TPP would’ve helped American businesses, but its provisions regarding stronger copyright law, off-shoring a really weird list of professions, and granting businesses the right to sue governments for future lost profits due to legislation were rancid bullshit. President Obama was a big supporter of this one and Hillary Clinton waffled back and forth on it. Remember, kids: the Democrats aren’t actually a liberal party. They’re moderates. They just look liberal compared to the other side. Well done, Mr. Trump.
See! I can be fair!
4. He reinstated the Mexico City policy restricting the disbursement of funds to international non-governmental organizations that perform abortions or push abortion as a form of birth control.
Every President since Bill Clinton has messed with this one exactly as you would expect. It’s worth noting that federal funds are never spent on abortions; the NGOs affected by this move this move use their own funds for abortion-related services. This simply cuts off funding to pro-choice organizations overseas and limits access to reproductive health options and birth control in the process.
The verdict: This one’s a vapid play to the base. Pence probably had to change his pants afterward. If you’re trying to limit the number of abortions, defunding other forms of birth control is an ass-backwards way to do it. If you’d rather see that money spent internally instead, well, there’s got to be a better delimiter than “they’re pushing abortion!” with which to determine who, if anyone, you’re playing ball with. And what happens when a poor country becomes overpopulated? People move into other countries, in many cases *gasp* illegally! Thumbs down.
5. He froze federal workforce hiring.
Note that this does not involve the military.
The verdict: Push. This one sucks for people who were applying for federal jobs, but I can’t blame the new guy for wanting to freeze things while he takes the time to familiarize himself with what’s going on. Short term, however, this could actually raise government costs if various agencies need to contract planned work out to consultants and contractors.
If you’re just tallying things up, that’s one big positive, three negatives, and one that can’t be quantified either way. It’s not worth reading too much into these first orders. They’re about what you’d expect from a Republican President. Stay tuned.