On Inauguration Day 2017, the biggest questions facing Donald Trump
This is it. Mic will be providing special coverage of the inauguration throughout the weekend. Visit mic.com/navigatingtrumpsamerica for live coverage.
• Today: Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States.
• What to expect: Light rain. A swearing-in scheduled shortly before noon. An inaugural address scheduled to take 21 minutes. A snappy, 90-minute inaugural parade. Three inaugural balls. And hundreds of thousands of inauguration attendees.
• Protests: The aim is simple — bring inaugural festivities to a standstill. There was already some counter-programming last night — that was met with tear gas — and clashes could erupt as soon as early Friday morning when activists attempt to block entrances to the Capitol and National Mall.
• Boycott: A third of House Democrats won't go to Trump's inauguration. Democratic senators did not follow the lead.
• Where's Trump? Washington, D.C. — where he will be for the next four years, when he isn't at the winter White House (Mar-a-Lago in Florida) or White House north (Trump Tower in New York City).
The biggest questions facing Trump
This is it, folks. Lots of people thought it would never happen and, now, here we are. A lot of people are attaching great importance to this day. And they're all represented in Washington, D.C. Revelers who think Donald Trump is about to finally Make America Great Again are there. Others think this is the beginning of the end for the republic. This much is certain: At about noon, Donald Trump will become the most powerful man in the world.
So how will Trump fare as president? The first thing to know is that he's got a lot of challenges on his plate. These are the biggest live issues facing the incoming executive of the American government.
Will he immediately work to reverse President Barack Obama's legacy? For months, Trump has committed to rolling back Obama's biggest policy achievements on issues from health care to climate change and immigration to foreign policy. When he enters the White House on Friday, Trump could immediately change American trade policy, partially gut the Affordable Care Act, roll back environmental protections and much more. But will he do it?
Will he act swiftly on foreign policy? Republicans have criticized Obama's approach to foreign policy for years. Trump regularly called Obama the "founder of ISIS" on the campaign trail, referring to the Islamic State group. Sean Spicer, Trump's press secretary, said Thursday that "Israel has not gotten the respect it deserves." And perhaps most importantly, Trump has said American relations with Russia will be very different under his leadership. But once the realities of the Situation Room and intelligence briefings settle on Trump's shoulders, will Trump's rhetoric turn into policy? Will he become closer with allies, like members of NATO, who he has scorned? Will he turn down the attacks on China or turn up the heat?
Can Trump repeal the Affordable Care Act and maintain "insurance for everybody?" We all know the landscape, but it is worth reviewing as we watch Trump take the oath of office. The Affordable Care Act expanded health insurance to more than 20 million people (though it is worth noting more than 28 million nonelderly Americans remain uninsured). Trump has repeatedly said no one who has insurance now will lose it with the repeal of the ACA. And he has committed to helping poorer Americans find insurance and pay less for it. On Friday, those words will come into a square confrontation with reality.
Who will his tax cuts benefit? One of the new administration's first orders of business will be cutting taxes. As he met with wealthy supporters the past few days, Trump made clear he will slash taxes and regulations to their benefit. But the new president has long-claimed his tax cuts will benefit the middle class and the poor. Analysts believe otherwise. Will Trump actually deliver? And will the Republican Congress actually be behind whatever changes eventually reach Trump's desk?
Is his talk on trade real? Key appointments and post-election statements indicate Trump wants to reposition America in the global market. He wants to pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He has consciously, repeatedly angered the Chinese. And he has publicly shamed companies into (sort of) keeping in or moving jobs back into the U.S. But will business interests with close ties to Trump and his Cabinet allow a major overhaul of trade policy? If Trump presses forward, will the free-market-oriented Republican Congress cooperate?
Can the real estate baron rebuild America? Roads. Bridges. Airports. Even gaping potholes irk Trump, who has pledged for months to infuse American infrastructure with billions of federal dollars. But the details say Trump wants the work to be done largely by privatization. His plan relies on businesses taking advantage of the credits to take on infrastructure projects. But economists have been critical, arguing contractors will just use the tax credits for existing projects and build nothing new. So will the pothole or crumbling bridge near your home be fixed in four years?
Will he alienate minorities and immigrants like he did on the campaign trail? Trump did not lose minorities by historic margins — but it was close. A relatively few black, Hispanic, Asian and other non-white Americans cast ballots for the president-elect. Trump's call for a ban on immigration into the U.S. by people from Muslim countries prompted widespread condemnation. But that rhetoric did not tear Trump down. If anything, it fueled some of his supporters. Will Trump now move to implement policies that would ban from the U.S. based on religion? Will he support laws that make it more difficult for minority Americans to cast votes? Will his Justice Department work to improve racist policing policies in some cities?
Will he fight climate change? Enough said.
Will he be normalized? The answer may already be yes. But many Democrats, members of the media and others are urging sustained resistance and criticism of Trump. Why? Because they view his inauguration as antithetical to the success of American democracy.
Trump will get the chance to answer all these questions and more. Very soon. A shot from his son on Twitter:
The coming administration — or lack thereof
We wanted to give you a list of all the Cabinet nominees and what they plan to do now that they are confirmed. The problem? Not a single one of Trump's nominees for a position in his administration have been confirmed by the Senate. What's more, Trump has only made nominations for 30 of 690 key positions as identified by the Washington Post. The soon-to-be president will keep more than 50 Obama administration officials in their jobs immediately following the inauguration, a nod to the critical importance of some of these roles, according to the Atlantic. These include the director of the National Counterterrorism Center and the State Department's special envoy for combating ISIS.
Trump supporters should rest assured — and critics should continue to be horrified — that Trump's Cabinet nominees are all likely to be confirmed. Some may face a steeper climb than others. (Looking at you, Rex Tillerson and Betsy DeVos.) So far, though, the four-seat Republican Senate majority is holding strong.
For now, here are five things you may have missed at this week's crucial Cabinet hearings.
In the coming weeks, Navigating Trump's America will closely monitor the confirmations of Trump's Cabinet and their early policy implications. And we will continue coverage of confirmation hearings next week.
The Mic stories you need to read before the swearing in:
• Remember: We have a guide to Friday's protests. Use it.
• Black Lives Matter and anarchists plan on trying to blockade Trump's inauguration.
• The Women's March on Saturday morning will have sister marches in 50 states and 57 countries.
• Why a queer dance party was the best way to protest Mike Pence.
• Must-see pictures of the unofficial merchandise vendors are selling at the National Mall.
• Watch Trump sing-along to 3 Doors Down. Yes, that happened.
If you're in Washington, D.C., supporting Trump, have a good time. If you're in D.C. protesting Trump, stay safe. And if you're somewhere in the world with your eyes trained on a screen trained on Trump, find time to breathe. Here we go.