The first week of Donald Trump’s presidency has been overwhelming—a flurry of executive orders, appointments, bizarre tweets, even stranger press conferences, and public appearances and interviews from the president that generated massive attention and controversy.
Whether by design or accident, this dust storm of news has partially obscured what policy changes Trump has actually made. And these are what really matter. To that end, we have begun a weekly feature that will recap some of the most important concrete actions taken by the Trump administration. Here is week one.
Trump signed an executive order over the weekend that directs federal agencies to “exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation” of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The New York Times said the order “should be seen more as a mission statement, and less as a monarchical edict that can instantly change the law.” But it could still scare health insurers into pulling out of the ACA marketplaces, which would set off a market collapse.
Global Gag Rule
Trump reinstated the Mexico City Policy via a presidential memorandum on Monday. Also called the Global Gag Rule, it prevents foreign NGOs that receive US aid from using funds from any source, including non-US funding, to “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning”—effectively forbidding them even to refer patients to other abortion providers. If health groups don’t comply, they’ll lose US assistance. Formerly the policy applied only to family planning funding, a pot of about $600 million. But Trump expanded it to all global health aid, which amounts to some $9.5 billion. As Zoë Carpenter noted this week, policy experts predict this will mean 6.5 million more unintended pregnancies, 2.2 million more abortions, 2.1 million more unsafe abortions, and the deaths of 21,700 pregnant women.
Federal Regulations Freeze
On his first day, Trump ordered a government-wide freeze on on federal regulations that haven’t been published in the Federal Register yet. Many are harmless, but many are not—like a rule about inspecting airplane fuselages for cracks.