POLICIES EXPECTED TO BE IMPLEMENTED DURING THE FIRST 12 MONTHS
by Sunil J. Wimalawansa
People do not ask to be discriminated against, harassed, suppressed, or exploited; neither they should be subjected to inequality, disparaging situations, poverty, unhappiness, discontent, disparities, or violence. An unprejudiced society is devoid of these ill-wills.
(January 12, 2017, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) Part 8 of this series explored what constituents are expecting in the first three months and Part 9, the first six months of the Trump-Pence administration. This article examines the expected key legislative actions during the second half of the first year of the Trump administration.
Several of the items highlighted below are initiatives that are to begin during the first six months of the new administration. While some of those, like removal of overburdening regulations can be implemented immediately by presidential actions, those needing Congressional approvals are going to take some time. Some of these items include:
- Solidifying policy changes and introduction of major modifications related to the Affordable Healthcare Act of America (Obamacare) (this will be addressed in detail in another article);
- Implementing the first series of steps of modernized and revised Affordable Care Act, perhaps under a different name, to improve access and curtail costs of healthcare;
- Enacting legislation to reduce overburdening regulations and restrictions that needs Congressional approvals;
- Continuing to strengthen the cyber security procedures;
- Enhancing job creation and economic growth;
- Educational reforms, applied across the America;
- Improvements of race relations, especially the trust and the interactions between African Americans and the police;
- Increasing the speed of construction of the assembly of the Security Wall across the border with Mexico;
- Continuing negotiations of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) (excluding China) and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreements (NAFTA); and renegotiating to establish a new trade agreement with China that is favorable to American business;
- Develop a new partnership and payment model with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that was established in 1949 and with the United Nations Organization, established in 1945;
- Enhancing the building and modernization of the U.S. armed forces and beginning of creation of a comprehensive missile defense system to protect America;
- Generating tangible savings by minimizing wastage of resources and the inherent inefficiencies of state and federal bureaucracies and departments; and
- Establishing of a new system to manage the Department of Veterans Affairs, minimise bureaucratic delays, and improve the care for the veterans.
Although a few of these can be achieved with relative ease, many others require congressional approval. Therefore, delays are expected in implementing the latter type of regulations.
Banning lobbying and introduction of term limits:
Meanwhile, bold steps taken during the transition period of the Trump-Pence administration to exclude lobbyists from the governmental decision-making apparatus are commendable. The expected ban, should limit the ability of lobbying for a 5-year period and require a lifetime ban on international government-related lobbying; these should be extended to the members of the Congress, and Congressional and White House staff. These are welcome changes that, once implemented, certainly will improve the transparency of government and the trust in that government, the country has not experienced for decades.
Logically, there is no reason to waste billions of dollars each year through paid lobbyists, who influence members of the House and the Senate to obtain “prejudicial” favours. Thus, banning lobbying would save billions of dollars each year, money that otherwise would be wasted by the private sector and government. In fact, if the government is to run impartially, transparently, and cost-effectively, a bill should be enacted to ban all lobbying-related activities by companies (make such entities redundant); such a move would be opposed by a handful who are currently making billions, but will be welcome by the public and good for the entire country.
The author hopes funds newly secured through the banning of lobbying activities will be used for infrastructure development projects. Similarly, Mr. Trump’s supporters will greatly appreciate and eagerly await the introduction of a new law of term limits for all politicians, not only for those elected to federal (Congress) but also to state governments, and those appointed/elected to all federal courts, including the Supreme Court; none of these should be lifetime appointments or opportunities.
Federal judiciary system appointments:
Because the incoming executive branch has come up with the names of 20 steadfast judges with strong conservative backgrounds, it would be easier to appoint one of them to the current vacant positions as early as possible. The Supreme Court would welcome an early appointment so that it can makes crucial decisions, fairly and democratically, complying with the United States constitution. If the proposed candidate has a clean record and is qualified for the position, there is no rationale other than party politics to block such a Supreme Court appointment by any lawmaker.
Congress should do the right thing by approving the Supreme Court nominee by Mr. Trump without creating too many obstacles (unless the nominee has violations or has serious conflicts of interest), for the benefit of the courts, justice, and the country. Similarly, filling several hundreds of current vacancies in other federal court systems; the appeal and district court vacancies should be done within the first few months of the new administration. Congress also should consider the needed expansion of federal courts to minimize the current major delays in courts.
The need for constitutional amendment to introduce term limits:
However, setting up term limits for the members of Congress, state legislatures, and judges would require a constitutional amendment and thus going to take time. Therefore, the process should be initiated during the early part of the 2017 to accommodate this potential delay in the approval process, so that it can be accomplished before the third year of Trump administration.
Members of Congress have the fiduciary and moral responsibility to do the “right things for the right reason”, for the country, and for the constituents that they are representing. They also must remember that the prosperity of the country and the success of the administration depend on collaborative work, positive working relationships between the legislative branch and the executive branch of the government. Obstructionism is unlikely to prevail.
Thus, Congress is obliged to work collegially without being stallers and to make across-the-aisle deals for the betterment of America and for steady progress of the country, to and keep it safe. Voters are eagerly waiting and watching carefully, who is doing what in Congress. Thus, the legislators doing what they supposed to do and being accountable will become important factors in coming elections.
To be Continued
Professor Sunil J. Wimalawansa, MD, PhD, MBA, DSC, is a physician–scientist, social entrepreneur, educator, and philanthropist, with strategic long-term vision. The author can be reached via wimalawansa.org