In Depth

Donald Trump's policies: Which ones will he stick to?

America's next president made many outlandish pledges on his campaign trail but will he keep to them?

Donald Trump will take office as the 45th president of the United States of America on 20 January after running one of the most controversial election campaigns in modern American history.

Over the past 18 months, he has promised his supporters radical change. His opponents say he is a rabble-rousing populist and decry measures such as the immediate deportation of illegal immigrants as near-fascism.

Some believe Trump deliberately over-promised, with no intention of living up to his own extreme pledges. Others hope the moderating influence of Congress will stop him from fulfilling the promises he has made.

It has also been said that some of his plans – such as building a wall on the US-Mexico border – are simply unworkable. After Trump visited the White House last week, Barack Obama reportedly decided to spend longer handing over power to the tycoon than is normal, feeling he needs extra help. 

Over the past week, Trump has struck a noticeably more moderate tone. Is this expectation management from a huckster who never intended to do half of what he pledged? Or is Trump giving his opponents what they want to hear while preparing a more radical agenda?

Here's what he has hinted at so far:

Health

The promise: Trump pledged to repeal Obamacare, the Affordable Health Care Act. This complex legislation may be Obama's proudest achievement and is designed to fill the gap in healthcare for the poor that dogs the American private system.

What Trump says now: "Obamacare is Obama-gone," wrote Trump's economics adviser Stephen Moore in the New York Post on Saturday, just as his boss was telling the Wall Street Journal he was willing to keep key parts of the act in place after meeting the outgoing president and discussing the legislation.

Trump said he might retain a prohibition on insurers denying coverage to patients because of existing health conditions and a provision that allows parents to provide years of additional coverage on their children's policies, says the newspaper. "I like those very much," said Trump.

Whatever the tycoon feels about Obamacare, Congress – now firmly in Republican hands – will "almost certainly" try to gut it, if not repeal it, says The Guardian.

Hillary Clinton

The promise: The Republican candidate told his rival he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server when she was secretary of state to Obama, even though the FBI said she had done nothing illegal. Trump encouraged his supporters to chant "Lock her up!" throughout the campaign and described Clinton as "crooked" and "a nasty woman".

What Trump says now: Trump's victory speech was startlingly conciliatory – he even struck an admiring tone about Clinton. He said: "Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country." 

Since then, he has suggested that investigating Clinton would not be a top priority.

Yesterday, senior Republican Kevin McCarthy said the party's agenda for upcoming congress does not include further investigations of Clinton. Trump gets to appoint the next Attorney General, so he could easily start the process of investigating Clinton – but even "prominent conservatives" would be opposed to the move, says the Washington Post.

Immigration

The promise: Trump pledged to "move criminal aliens out [on] day one" and repeal Obama's amnesty on undocumented child migrants, which allows them to remain in the US.

What Trump says now: The president-elect is sticking to this promise. He told 60 Minutes on CBS he will aim to jail or deport between two and three million illegal immigrants, focusing on criminals, gang members and drug dealers.

Trump "didn't specify how he would do this", notes the Wall Street Journal – and the Obama administration has already made deporting illegal aliens with criminal records a priority. He may repeal Obama's amnesty but the Daily Wire notes his public statements suggest he has long supported the arrangement.

The Mexico wall

The promise: Trump's most famous – or, to his opponents, infamous – campaign pledge was to build a "big, beautiful wall" between the US and Mexico. He added that he would make Mexico pay for the wall, after saying the neighbour state was sending "rapists" to the US.

What Trump says now: Non-partisan estimates show that building the wall would cost $25bn, says The Guardian, and Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto has refused to fund its construction. Trump told 60 Minutes that he now accepts part of the "wall" could in fact be fencing.

Trump's campaign website pledged only to "begin working on an impenetrable physical wall on the southern border, on day one" of Trump's presidency – with no mention of completing it. Trump promised to start a trade war and exert diplomatic pressure to force Mexico to pay.

There is one alternative: Mexican tweeters have suggested their nation would happily pay for a wall along the 1826 border with the US. Back then, California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico were still part of Mexico.

Abortion and gay marriage

The promise: Trump has given mixed messages on same-sex marriage, describing himself as "for traditional marriage" but also "evolving". On abortion, his language has been clearer, drawing criticism from medical professionals across the world after suggesting that doctors could "rip the baby out of the womb" at nine months.

What Trump says now: Since the election, Trump has said he is "fine" with marriage equality as it is "already settled". However, he has pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who will send abortion rights "back to the states", acknowledging that this will mean some women will have to travel to another state to have the procedure. "I'm pro-life. The judges will be pro-life," he said.

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