Dr. David Mielke, Retired Dean of th College of Business at Eastern Michigan University
President Trump emerged from his first 100 days in office with a mixed bag of results. He got his Supreme Court nominee confirmed, but was unable to get an agreement to repeal and replace Obamacare to meet his self imposed deadline last month. Several of his key appointments have not been confirmed and many more nominees have yet to be named. There are questions as to the status of several other campaign promises and whether or not he can deliver. There are 5 key upcoming deadlines that will determine whether or not he will gain the momentum to pass the legislation to fulfill many of those promises. Let’s take a look at those 5 deadlines and determine “What is the “Right Thing to do.” Following are the 5 deadlines:
- April 28 is the date that the government will shut down unless a budget for the current year is passed. Congress and President Obama were unable to enact the federal budget for the current year which started October 1, 2016, and instead passed a “continuing resolution” which essentially says the government will use and spend exactly the same budget in 2016-2017 as the prior year. The first resolution deadline was at the end of December and once again a continuing resolution was passed extending to April 28th.
- Congress left for their 2 week Easter recess on April 10th without a proposal. Their return on April 24th gives them less than a week to resolve the issue. Passage of the budget could be complicated by attempts to roll back funding for Planned Parenthood, fund the border wall and military spending, whether or not to release funds to insurance companies participating in Obamacare to mitigate losses and whether or not to increase the deficit.
- There are major hurdles to overcome by the time that this show is broadcast.
- On April 28 the Congressional Review Act timeline expires. A rarely used law passed in 1996 gives the power to Congress and the President to eliminate rules enacted by the executive branch within 60 legislative days.
- President Trump has already signed 13 CRA bills into law and several others have passed the House awaiting action in the Senate. We will know today how many more CRAs were passed. The administration has already used the law to rollback environmental regulations and federal rules imposed on schools, as examples.
- However, the issue still remains that legal experts are declaring that the CRA law can continue to be applied to other past rules that agencies failed to report to Congress as required. Many regulations passed during the Obama administration did not have reports. The reports were to provide accountability by the agencies that promulgated the regulations.
- An interesting part of the law is that if a CRA is passed, the agency can never issue the same regulation again.
- By the end of May, the President must decide whether or not the US will pull out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The agreement was signed by the Obama administration in December 2015 in Paris and included a set of environmental restrictions.
- June 21st is the date set by the Department of Health and Human Services that many health insurance companies have to decide whether they will participate in the Obamacare exchanges for 2018. If insurance companies are to factor in changes to the healthcare system into their decisions, then the GOP will need to enact Obamacare reform by that date.
- The insurance company decisions are already complicated by the threat by the administration to withhold funding in the current budget negotiations.
- A G20 summit is scheduled for July 7 in Germany. president Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian President Putin. Both leaders are expected to attend and are expected to meet there for the first time. By July 7th, President Trump will have to arrive at a coherent strategy for dealing with Russia.
- The US strike in Syria and the ongoing face-off with North Korea as well as other international issues should force the President to make important decisions before that meeting.
The five issues listed have deadlines that will force decisions and action by the President. In a sense they are the tip of the iceberg as there are also questions about corporate and personal tax reform, infrastructure spending, NAFTA reform, the budget for 2017-2018 and the debt ceiling which has already forced the Treasury to take measures to continue to pay the bills. Those measures will run out sometime this fall. When considering these 5 deadlines what is the “Right Thing to do.” We will know today whether or not a 2016-2017 budget has been passed. My guess is “No”. Instead the Congress and President should essentially adopt a continuing resolution for the rest of the year and avoid a costly government shutdown. The US has operated for years, because of budget difficulties under the Obama administration, with the same budget. Adopt a continuing resolution through September 30, 2017 and instead start now to formulate a reformulated budget for next year. Congress and the President have successfully passed important CRAs. They should continue that process by focusing on any regulations passed by agencies that did not file the accountability reports to Congress. The President should withdraw from the Paris accord. Congress was never allowed to review the agreement as is the requirement for any international treaty signed by the president. Obamacare must be repealed and replaced by June 21st. It was the number one promise by candidate Trump and is the linchpin for personal tax reform and next year’s budget. The last proposal contained reform of Medicare which impacts the budget and whether or not a personal mandate hits individual tax returns. It is a long time until the G20 summit and the speed at which international events have occurred will require the ability to incorporate those events. Essentially, President Trump has to maintain his “get tough” approach to re-establish the US position in the world leader. These 5 deadlines must be met with decisions—not more delays.