In the few short days following his inauguration, Donald Trump has signed seventeen Executive orders. They signaled the world that the nation that epitomized strength, dependability, concern and compassion would soon cease to exist. It will be replaced by an isolated, paranoid, Fortress America that will abandon many of the less fortunate both abroad and at home in favor of building a nation bristling with weapons of war, and terrified of foreigners.
The President’s words and actions, though, have sent another message. He has in effect told the terrorists of the world that their efforts are getting the desired results. He has told them that “We are terrorized,” and are hunkering down; afraid of everyone, trusting no one and replacing our time-honored mantle of courage for one of fear, suspicion, and protection of the wealthiest segments of our society.
All by themselves, the Executive orders cannot achieve Trump’s aims. He will need the congress to do his bidding and, considering the GOP majority, there is no reason to doubt that they will. Trump has given us fair warning of his intentions. You can act now and use your first amendment right to petition the government for redress of grievances or you can wait until it’s too late and say, “I wish I had acted, what was I thinking?”
In the interests of time and space, this blog will examine only four of the 17 Executive actions taken by the President. They are:
1. The Affordable Care Act (ACA)
2. The ban on Syrian refugees and Muslims
3. Construction of the Wall
4. An increase in military spending.
I will do my best to keep this as short as possible.
- The affordable care act. Experts suggest that the executive order signed by President Trump will have little immediate effect. Because ACA was passed by congress it can only be repealed by congress (This assessment is offered without knowledge of the replacement Mr. Trump has in mind and only speaks to repeal). The executive order cannot accomplish a great deal, but it could affect the manner in which ACA is administered.
The order instructs the heads of all executive departments and agencies to “exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay” parts of the Affordable Care Act that put financial burdens on individuals, health-care providers, or states.
In the long term, some 20 to 30 million people might be without health insurance. For safety-net providers, this could increase the number of people using emergency rooms as their primary care centers which will decrease patients’ access to specialists and cause them to forgo any preventative care in order to pay other living expenses.
Despite the promise to repeal and replace there is no sign of a replacement plan anywhere and even if one magically appears it will not offer coverage to everyone because Republicans will remove the mandate that requires everyone to have health insurance. Once removed there is no way to pay for the program, it’s that simple. They’ve already moved to eliminate the pre-existing conditions and insured children until age 26 provisions.
Repeal of the Affordable Care Act will also affect Medicare patients through higher prescription drug prices. Medicaid patients may find their coverage dried up and gone, sending them back to Emergency rooms for care. If that happens the ERs will pass costs on so those who do have insurance will pay more. You may not like the so-called Obamacare but it’s almost a sure thing that once repealed everyone’s costs will go up while coverage becomes more restrictive.
- The ban on Syrian Refugees and Muslims. The order bans Syrian refugee resettlement in the U.S. It will also shut down the entire refugee program for 120 days and bar all immigrants and visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for at least 90 days.
The order also means that about a half million green card holders who live in the U.S. but are originally from one of those countries will need a waiver to return to their homes.
With these actions the President has told peace loving Muslims that there is no place in America for them, thus leaving them without alternatives and at the mercy of the radicals in their midst. This move is unprecedented in American History. Never before have we banned anyone because of their religious beliefs alone.
- The wall. On Tuesday of last week, Trump ordered the construction of a border wall and a significant buildup of the Border Patrol. He did that on the eve of a scheduled visit to Washington by President Enrique Peña Nieto. In one of his famous tweets, Trump suggested the Mexican President stay home unless his country is willing to pay for the wall. Peña Nieto responded by saying, “No,” and he canceled his trip here. We now have a mini crisis with the U.S. second biggest trading partner.
Estimates for building a wall vary from $14 billion to $25 billion. Trump says we will pay for it and get the money back from Mexico. That’s not quite what he promised in the campaign. Experts say a wall the entire length of the 2,000-mile border is neither realistic nor effective.
4. The military. Trump would better than double military spending which will do little to combat his biggest concern, terrorism. As far as we know the terrorists don’t have submarines, carriers or long-range stealth bombers. Besides if we need any increase at all, we certainly don’t need that much.
According to Retired General David Petraeus, there is no crisis in military readiness. He says that American armed forces are well-prepared for the tasks they could be called upon to undertake.
The current U.S. military budget is nearly $600 billion which places us far ahead of everyone else on the planet. The chart below makes it quite clear.
There would be increased spending on aircraft carriers and a big increase in attack submarines which likely will cost $2 billion apiece. A recent study indicated that the Trump Proposal would mean 11 more of these. That’s $22 billion just on subs.
President Trump has told friends and foes alike, though his stream of tweets and executive orders, that we will no longer be the shining example of hope, opportunity, and freedom the world has known. Instead, he has sent a clear message that we have retreated behind walls, trade barriers, bigotry, and military might, to become an isolated, unwelcoming, unpredictable and unstable Fortress America.
Ever since World War ll Presidents from FDR to JFK, Reagan and Obama have worked to enhance our status as the “hope” of the world, a shining example of freedom, diversity, equality, strength and compassion. All of that work over all of those years is being destroyed as the name Donald J. Trump is signed to a slew of executive orders.
These Executive orders will affect everyone both at home and abroad. At home, you can expect, less privacy, restricted information about government agencies, increased surveillance, higher prices, diminished health care coverage, tougher policing and a different brand of justice. Trump has given every indication that he will push the envelope and challenge the constitution. There is no reason to doubt him.
Abroad, the President is quickly laying the groundwork to withdraw from alliances with old friends, form friendships with old foes, show both religious favoritism and discrimination and deprive some Americans of civil liberties already granted them and that have been accepted by most of the population.
The United States, known for the lady in the harbor who carries the inscription, “Give me your tired, your poor …,” will soon say, “Tired and poor not allowed,” as we withdraw into a friendless, frightened and dangerous sort of isolationism where we trust no one, cooperate with few, refuse to help those who seek assistance and cater only to our most selfish instincts. If we continue on this road it will not be long before we are seen as a bigger, stronger and infinitely more dangerous nation than North Korea. We not only have the economic and military might necessary to threaten anyone in the world, we now have a leader who is as totally unpredictable as Kim Jong-Un.
The only thing that can stand In the way of what I just described is the Congress of the United States and perhaps the U.S. Supreme Court but the court takes a long time to act and we could all be turned to radioactive ash by then. The Congress, on the other hand, could act far more quickly were they so inclined. But they are not.
The houses of Ryan and McConnell seem to be in lockstep with our new leader and that means President Trump may as well be Emperor Trump because there are almost no checks and balances to keep him in line. It means that we have a rogue elephant in the White House and there is no one to stop him. In all their brilliance our founding fathers may not have seen this coming.
At some point, and I hope it doesn’t come to that, but at some point, the Generals and the Admirals may have to ask themselves what comes first, loyalty to the Commander in Chief or loyalty to the survival of humankind. If it comes to that, our Democracy will cease to exist.
And from where I sit, that’s the truth!