Editorial: Trump’s first 100 days agenda ambitious

The Detroit News

Incoming President Donald Trump set an ambitious agenda for his first 100 days in office, including a number he pledged to get done today — after he is sworn in at noon for Day One of his four-year term. Some he should do, some he should take more time to think about, and some he should scrap.

In the latter category is his proposal to term-limit members of Congress, an item befitting a populist and a promise he made on the campaign trail. But it’s a really bad idea. Michigan is the poster child for the dangers of term limits. Lawmakers don’t stay around long enough to learn how to do their jobs. Leadership is weak because of that lack of experience. And staff members and lobbyists grow more powerful. Walk away from this one and let voters keep term limiting lawmakers through the ballot box.

Next he pledged a series of measures to place strict limits on the ability of former federal officials, elected and appointed, to serve as lobbyists once they leave government. A reasonable waiting period is warranted to guard against conflicts. But at the same time, it will be harder to attract talented people to government if it means an onerous limit on their future earnings.

Repealing and replacing Obamacare is also top of the Trump list; indeed Republican efforts in Congress are already underway. Serious fixes must happen to contain the soaring costs of both health care and health insurance. The work, however, must be done with great deliberation to assure it doesn’t make matters worse and toss millions off coverage.

During the presidential campaign, candidate Trump promised a hiring freeze to reduce the size of the government payroll through attrition. While the growth in the federal workforce slowed under Obama, it still climbed 10 percent and now stands at a record 1.7 million employees. As Trump reduces the reach of the federal government, that number should decline precipitously.

Trump pledged during the campaign to move immediately on trade, renegotiating NAFTA and declaring China a currency manipulator. Starting a trade war that will blow up the economy is not in his interest or the nation’s. He should move less aggressively here.

Most worrisome are reports that he will use an executive order to begin the border wall with Mexico. That would be a mistake on two fronts. First is that this is the most divisive item on his wish list, and will distract from the other things he may find consensus on with Democrats.

And it also flies in the face of his denouncements of Obama’s overreaching use of executive power. As Trump said often of Obama’s unilateral actions, major initiatives should go through Congress.

Lifting restrictions on energy production and giving the go-ahead to the stalled Keystone XL pipeline and other energy infrastructure projects President Barack Obama blocked would boost an important economic segment and send a signal that putting Americans back to work is a high priority.

Trump will also begin the process of replacing the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. That is obviously a vital decision, and a strategic one. Democrats, having watched their GOP colleagues block Obama’s nominee for the past eight months, won’t be in the mood to move quickly on a Trump appointment. If he goes too far to the right with his pick, he’ll be in for a long fight.

The new president has a lot more things on both his first day and his first 100-days agenda, including funding school choice measures, deporting the criminals among the undocumented immigrant population, rolling back the Dodd-Frank financial regulation act, adopting a policy to cut two regulations for every new one and establishing a much-needed review team to combat cyberattacks.

It is an ambitious schedule for such a short run. Republicans have been waiting for an opportunity to test their ideas for making the country better. Their focus should be on getting them right, rather than getting them in place quickly.