To say that last night’s election result was shocking might be an understatement, but here we are. Donald Trump will be President with a Republican majority in the Congress. Even though the election was relatively light on specific policy debates, the outcome may end up being far more consequential than other elections in terms of policy changes. Here are a few quick takeaways from his victory for those who care about public policy, constitutional democracy, and free markets.
- The Affordable Care Act will likely be repealed and replaced with something. What that something is remains to be seen. I hope that wise voices like Michael Cannon, Brian Blase, and Bob Graboyes will be consulted in the coming months. The news over the last few weeks over rising premiums and the continuing collapse of the exchanges probably helped push Trump over the top in key states.
- While I doubt this will be at the top of the list, there’s significant opportunity to reform or repeal parts of the Dodd-Frank Act. In light of the recent court ruling on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s structure, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Congress pass a bill changing its structure to a commission, as Todd Zywicki has repeatedly urged. This could help prevent inefficient rules on arbitration and payday lending from being adopted.
- The Supreme Court is hopefully saved for a generation. While Merrick Garland isn’t the worst justice to ever be nominated, there are certainly better options out there. The Republicans were smart to hold out. However, Trump will have to stick with the list he put out earlier this year, and the Congress should make sure the next justices understand the rule of law. If so, this will mean decisions like Citizens United and Heller will stand, and new challenges to the vast and expansive regulatory state may succeed.
- Speaking of regulation, a freeze on regulatory growth may be imminent. As Patrick McLaughlin and others have pointed out, regulatory accumulation harms the economy and hurts the pocketbooks of the poor. I would expect that there will be institutional resistance to giving up power in the “administrative branch,” but one area where Trump has solidly stood for free markets is his distaste for unnecessary regulation and has committed to a one-in, two-out system of regulation. He should be held to that pledge.
- The new Department of Justice should be receptive to changes in how it approaches corporate settlements. The Obama DOJ has taken a very ad hoc approach to prosecuting corporate conduct and in some cases has gone well beyond the law and in its unaccountable settlements. A Clinton DOJ probably would have continued current policies and practices. This has created tremendous uncertainty in the business community and both sides of the aisle have criticized these settlements.
I am sure there will be much more, but these are the top five where I see the new administration and Congress being able to work together to accomplish good things for the American people. There will be some disagreement over the details, but achieving these five objectives would be a great start in 2017.