How a Billionaire President Could Impact the Working Class

by Desiree Tims

donald-trump-offical-photo

President Donald Trump Official Photo, available here

On November 8, 2016, the United States elected its forty-fifth President of the United States.[1] The historic presidential election of Republican Nominee, Donald J. Trump, who is a real-estate billionaire, sparked a national debate between those who support and oppose him due to his divisive campaign rhetoric and political inexperience.[2]

Polling data revealed that Trump received an overwhelming amount of support from working-class white voters.[3] Trump’s thematic “Make America Great Again” slogan was followed by his campaign promises to reinforce law and order, restrict immigration and reduce taxes.[4] Trump has many working-class supporters—some who yearn for the return of high-paying hourly factory jobs—as well as high-income supporters who deeply desire a change to the federal tax code.[5] Furthermore, Trump’s self-declaration as the “law and order candidate” has fueled the debate on criminal justice reform, racial disparities, and equitable application of law.[6]

President-elect Trump’s impact on working-class Americans remains to be seen, but here are three issues that could come to bear during his time in office:

The Trump Tax Plan

President-elect Trump’s federal tax proposal is expected to reduce federal revenues by more than six trillion dollars with his proposed tax cuts; the highest-income taxpayers would receive the largest tax reductions.[7] Because the Trump tax plan is expected to reduce federal revenue, it can be expected for the Republican-controlled Congress to champion cuts to federal social programs in order balance the federal budget.[8]  Programmatic cuts would erode the social safety net for those who are striving to escape poverty and rely on nutrition and housing programs.

The Fate of the Affordable Care Act

President-elect Trump and the Republicans in Congress have made it clear that their top legislative priority for 2017 is repeal of the Affordable Care Act.[9] Since its enactment in 2010, the ACA has expanded health insurance to an estimated 20 million Americans through its expansion of Medicaid funding and provisions like the restriction on insurance companies from discriminating against individuals with “pre-existing” medical conditions.[10] For example, more than 17 million Medicaid enrollees have been tallied since 2013, when the health reform law expanded the program to cover low-income adults.[11] Republicans, however, have pointed to rising health insurance premiums as evidence that the law is failing.[12]

Although Republicans will control both chambers of Congress when Trump takes office, they have yet to agree on a coherent replacement for the ACA,[13] or even whether they need to pass a replacement simultaneous to repeal of the ACA at all.[14] Here, President-elect Trump has demanded that Republicans immediately repeal the ACA and replace the law quickly.[15] Trump criticized “Obamacare” frequently on the campaign trail, but seemed to endorse some of its more popular provisions, like the protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions, in interviews conducted after the election. [16] Whatever Trump and the Republicans in Congress ultimately attempt, Democrats have indicated they will vigorously oppose any effort to weaken or repeal the ACA.[17]

 

Trump’s Ninth Justice

Presidents have the constitutional authority to nominate Supreme Court Justices,[18] and President-elect Trump is positioned to appoint a conservative ninth justice to the United States Supreme Court. Many presidents nominate justices who share similar experiences, ideologies and values.[19] Should any of President-elect Trump’s legislative achievements reach the steps of the Supreme Court,[20] he is likely to have an advocate.[21] The prospective ninth Supreme Court Justice’s opinions on race and class could even mirror President-elect Trump’s.[22] Most notably, , the prospective ninth justice’s legacy will have long-term effects beyond a contentious presidential election cycle.

[1] See Latest Election Polls 2016, N.Y. Times (Nov. 12, 2016), http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/us/elections/polls.html.

[2] David Jackson, Trump’s Rhetoric is Harsher Than Previous Nominees, USA Today (June 23, 2016), http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2016/06/23/donald-trump-hillary-clinton-rhetoric/86293780/.

[3] Stanley Feldman and Melissa Herrmann, CBS News Exit Polls: How Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency, CBS (Nov. 9, 2016), http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cbs-news-exit-polls-how-donald-trump-won-the-us-presidency/.

[4] Policies, Donald J. Trump for President, https://www.donaldjtrump.com/policies/ (last visited Nov. 12, 2016).

[5] See  Philip Rucker and Jenna Johnson, Trump Supporters Defend the GOP Nominee as a ‘Genius’ With Taxes, Wash. Post (Nov. 12, 2016), https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-supporters-defend-gop-nominee-as-a-genius-with-taxes/2016/10/02/dc28080a-88a5-11e6-b24f-a7f89eb68887_story.html; see also Tim Logan and Katie Johnston, Donald Trump Vowed to Bring Back Factory Jobs, But That Could Be Tough, Bos. Globe, (Nov. 9, 2016), https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2016/11/09/trump-champion-working-class-vowed-bring-back-factory-jobs-but-that-could-tough/FUzHi8baXiSevFRjdM0wgP/story.html.

[6] See Yamiche Alcindor, Minorities Worry What a ‘Law and Order’ Donald Trump Presidency Will Mean, N.Y. Times, (Nov. 12, 2016), http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/12/us/politics/minorities-worry-what-a-law-and-order-donald-trump-presidency-will-mean.html; See also, Louis Nelson, Trump: ‘I am the law and order candidate’, POLITICO, (July 11, 2016), http://www.politico.com/story/2016/07/trump-law-order-candidate-225372.

[7] See James R. Nunns, Tax Policy Ctr., An Analysis of Donald Trump’s Revised Tax Plan (Oct. 18, 2016), http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/publications/analysis-donald-trumps-revised-tax-plan/full.

[8]See Better Way, Our Vision for a Confident America (2016), https://abetterway.speaker.gov/_assets/pdf/ABetterWay-Poverty-PolicyPaper.pdf (Touting reduced government intervention in poverty-reduction efforts).

[9] Maggie Haberman and Margot Sanger-Katz, Trump Tells G.O.P. to Replace Health Care Law ‘Quickly’, N.Y. Times (Jan. 10, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/us/repeal-affordable-care-act-donald-trump.html.

[10] Namrata Uberoi et al., U.S. Dep’t of Health & Human Serv., Health Insurance Coverage and the Affordable Care Act 2010-2016 1 (2016), https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/187551/ACA2010-2016.pdf

[11] Tami Luhby, Repealing Obamacare Affects Everyone, CNN Money (Jan. 7, 2017), http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/02/news/economy/repealing-obamacare-health-insurance/.

[12] Louise Radnofsky and Reid J. Epstein, GOP Candidates Seize on Premium Increases in Affordable Care Act, Wall Street J. (Oct. 25 2016) http://www.wsj.com/articles/gop-candidates-seize-on-premium-increases-in-affordable-care-act-1477426739.

[13] See Habermand and Sanger-Katz, supra note 12.

[14] Id.

[15] Maggie Haberman and Robert Pear, Trump Tells Congress to Repeal and Replace Health Care Law ‘Very Quickly,’ N.Y. Times (Jan. 10, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/10/us/repeal-affordable-care-act-donald-trump.html.com.

[16] Reed Abelson, Donald Trump Says He May Keep Parts of Obama Health Care Act, N.Y. Times (Nov. 11, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/12/business/insurers-unprepared-for-obamacare-repeal.html.

[17] MJ Lee, Kevin Liptak and Manu Raju, Obama tells Democrats: ‘Don’t rescue’ Republicans on ‘Trumpcare,’ CNN (Jan. 5, 2017), http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/04/politics/obama-capitol-hill-obamacare/.

[18] See U.S. Const. art. II, § 2.

[19] For example, on May, 26, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court of the United States. See Press Release, The White House, Background on Judge Sonia Sotomayor (May 26, 2009), https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/background-judge-sonia-sotomayor. Justice Sotomayor, who is the first Latina to serve on the United States Supreme Court and was raised in a working-class family in New York, comes from a background and perspective that mirrors President Obama’s and includes his campaign themes on the American dream, hope and change. See Terry Gross, As a Latina, Sonia Sotomayor Says, ‘You Have to Work Harder,’ NPR (Jan. 13, 2014), http://www.npr.org/2014/01/13/262067546/as-a-latina-sonia-sotomayor-says-you-have-to-work-harder; see also Aaron Blake, Obama: The man of many slogans, Wash. Post (July 10, 2012), https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/president-obama-a-man-of-many-slogans/2012/07/10/gJQAf8UlaW_blog.html?utm_term=.c2b8d48169ef.

[20] President-elect Trump favors expanding policies such as stop-and-frisk, which he believes will eliminate black-on-black crime in low-income communities. See Jim Dwyer, What Donald Trump Got Wrong on Stop-and-Frisk, N.Y. Times (Sept. 27, 2016), http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/nyregion/what-donald-trump-got-wrong-on-stop-and-frisk.html; see also, Max Kutner, Donald Trump Says Stop-and-Frisk Can Help Troubled Black Communities, Newsweek (Sept. 21, 2016), http://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-stop-and-frisk-hannity-charlotte-501383.

[21] See Jeffrey Rosen, How President Trump Could Reshape the Supreme Court-and the Country, Politico (Nov. 13, 2016), http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/11/donald-trump-wins-supreme-court-214449.

[22] Trump’s provocative remarks about race and class on the campaign trail were preceded by a long history of controversy. See Michael Kranish, Trump’s courtship of black voters hampered by decades of race controversies, Wash. Post, (July 20, 2016), https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-courtship-of-black-voters-hampered-by-decades-of-race-controversies/2016/07/19/d9822250-4d2e-11e6-aa14-e0c1087f7583_story.html.