Unraveling, Fast and Slow

January 22nd, 2017

I chuckled when I read this lede from the NYT:

President Trump plans to take executive action on a nearly daily basis for a month to unravel his predecessor’s legacy and begin enacting his own agenda, his aides say, part of an extended exercise of presidential power to quickly make good on his campaign promises.

The challenge, it seems, is that unlike his predecessors, the Trump Administration does not have a play-by-play of how to use executive action to undo the Obama legacy.

But in a reflection of the improvisational style that helped fuel his rise, he has made few, if any, firm decisions about which orders he wants to make, or in which order. That is a striking break from past presidents, who have entered office with detailed plans for rolling out a series of executive actions that set a tone for their presidencies and send a clear message about their agendas.

It was plain that Mr. Trump had devised no such strategy by his first day in office, as advisers expressed doubt until the last moments about whether he would issue any directives on Friday. “It’s going to be a game-day decision,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters that afternoon.

Then, around 7 p.m., reporters were suddenly summoned to the Oval Office. After sprinting from the briefing room, they watched Mr. Trump sign a directive to federal agencies to begin scaling back parts of the Affordable Care Act.

“There are a number that are being looked at, but it’s just a question of which ones he feels like doing, and when,” Mr. Spicer had said of executive orders earlier on Friday. In recent days, he had said that Mr. Trump’s top aides were still deciding on the “sequencing” of the unilateral actions.

A similar uncertainty pertains to the President’s decisions concerning DACA and DAPA.

Advocates for undocumented workers are anxiously waiting to see what Mr. Trump will do.

If he moves aggressively, he could immediately overturn Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA — the program Mr. Obama created to protect young immigrants who were brought illegally to the United States as children, giving them legal status and access to work permits. Ending that program would put as many as 800,000 of them at risk of being removed from their families and sent to the countries they had left as children.

The White House could instead unwind the program slowly, giving the young people, often called Dreamers, more time before their immigration protections and work permits expire. Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, said on Friday that in a brief conversation with the new president, Mr. Trump had given him assurances about the program.

The president, Mr. Durbin said, told him that “we don’t want to hurt those kids; we’re going to do something.”