Many of the few gains that were achieved in regards to both domestic and foreign policy in the United States over the past eight years are now under immediate threat by the upcoming presidency of Donald Trump whose many campaign promises involve bigotry, racism, xenophobia as well as hostility toward traditional Washington enemies.
Here are five gains that will likely to be dismantled and reversed over the next five years:
1. Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare
Donald Trump made it one of his main promises to repeal Obamacare and even included ending it in his first 100-day plan after he takes office on Jan. 20, 2017. Since the Affordable Healthcare Act was passed in 2010, Republicans have made it clear they wanted it gone and have tried to dismantle it, but Obama has had the power to veto any changes.
Now that Trump is in power and Republicans retained control in Congress, Obamacare’s end seems inevitable.
While completely repealing Obama’s universal health care would be difficult, the most likely scenario according to experts is that Republicans will dismantle major parts of it that would leave the more than 22 million people without insurance.
In order to do that, Republicans would have to use the “reconciliation process,” which would allow them to make changes to anything that affects the federal budget, according to an analysis by Vox. Senate Republicans only need 51 votes to get this done.
2. Cuba deal
Just a week before he won the elections, Trump promised that his administration “will cancel Obama’s one-sided Cuban deal, made by executive order, if we do not get the deal that we want and the deal that people living in Cuba and here deserve, including protecting religious and political freedom,” he declared in Miami just a week before the election.
Obama’s rapprochement with communist Cuba was indeed done by an executive order, meaning that Trump would simply need to issue a counter order when he is president to reverse the deal. Trump’s directive would not need to be long and could be done on day one of his presidency if he desires.
"It would need to explicitly declare that everything in the presidential directive related to U.S. policy on Cuba is invalid,” Frank Mora, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Latin America from 2009 to 2013, told the Miami Herald.
However, experts say that the Cuba deal would not be as pressing and Trump could take his time before he issues an order ending it. But in order to keep his promise to Cuban immigrants in the U.S., he would at least freeze the process which would not need an executive order and would only require an oral instruction to his secretary of state.
Just weeks ahead of the elections, Trump promised the Latino community in Florida that he would support the people of Venezuela and Cuba against what he called the “oppressive regimes” of Presidents Nicolas Maduro and Raul Castro.
3. Iran deal
“My number one priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran,” Trump said in a speech to the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC during the campaign. He later said he would try to renegotiate the agreement and increase U.S. sanctions against Iran.
However, Vice President-elect Mike Pence said the deal would be “ripped up” after consultation with U.S. allies. The deal was enacted in 2014 after years of negotiations between Iran and six world powers, U.S., Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China.
The Iran nuclear deal, known formally as the "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” was sealed in July and required Tehran to keep its nuclear program a civilian one in return for the removal of all economic and military sanctions against it by world leaders.
The Republicans in Congress have lobbied vigorously against the deal but could not secure a win. However, despite such inflammatory comments from Trump and the backing of Congress the deal has passed and went into effect in January.
However, if Trump tries to walk away from the deal or impose new terms, Iran could potentially pull out of the deal, which would end it.
If Trump announced he would not honor the agreement, “all U.S. sanctions that have been lifted or suspended are going to be re-imposed, by executive order,” Mark Dubowitz, a critic of the deal who is executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, told USA Today.
“Say goodbye to the Iran deal,” Richard Nephew, a former U.S. negotiator with Iran now at Columbia University, told Reuters. “There is very little likelihood that it stays, either because of a deliberate decision to tear it up by Trump, or steps that the U.S. takes which prompt an Iranian walk back.”
However, it would be a complicated process for the deal to fall apart as it is more of a political commitment between all parties involved rather than a treaty ratified by lawmakers in each country. The deal has also been ratified as a U.N. resolution which makes it immune from being invalidated by only one government.
4. Immigration reforms such as DACA
The U.S. president-elect made cracking down on immigration one of the cornerstones of his campaign, harping on building a wall on the southern border with Mexico. However one of Trump’s immediate threats against immigrants is Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.
“The elimination of DACA is a serious threat and a serious concern,’’ John Sandweg, who helped design the program as a senior homeland security official in the Obama administration, told the Washington Post. “It could be done administratively, and you could absolutely use the information provided for targeting purposes."
DACA is not a law and was not even enacted with an executive order but with a memo sent out by Obama’s former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Trump could simply revoke it which would make all the information of those who signed up for the program available for federal deportation agents.
The 2012 initiative protected thousands of people who had arrived in the U.S. as children from deportation, which they say allowed them to come out from the shadows and obtain work permits social security number.
While he did promise to deport millions of “illegal” immigrants in the country, experts say that the majority of those undocumented immigrants have been in the country for more than five years, making them entitled to a hearing before an action is done against them. Experts say that the system could not handle a surge in those hearings.
However, he could instruct the Immigration and Customs Enforcement to change its priorities from Obama’s order to focus on deporting “dangerous” immigrants and to go easy on families, to a full on deportation system of anyone undocumented.
5. Keystone XL pipeline
Over the course of his 18-month campaign, the real estate billionaire repeatedly vowed to approve TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, reversing a decision by the Obama administration to block it over environmental concerns. He also made it one of the issues he would address in the first 100 days of his presidency.
Trump could ask TransCanada to renew its application for the pipeline allowing him to approve it. TransCanada said Wednesday it is committed to building the project. "We are evaluating ways to engage the new administration on the benefits, the jobs and the tax revenues this project brings to the table," a spokesman told Reuters.
Environmentalists, as well as economic experts, have long said that the pipeline would be as bad for the environment as it would be for the economy of the country.