If the 2016 election cycle teaches us anything, it’s that predicting the political future is a fool’s errand. Even the most seasoned prognosticators have thrown up their hands in frustration. And it’s pretty much all the fault of one man: Donald J. Trump.
Given the pundit class’s dismal predictive record so far, it’s probably useless to handicap an eventual Trump vs. Clinton candidacy. But that shouldn’t stop us from trying to game out the potential implications of a Trump presidency. Here’s a look at four laws, customs and/or states of play that could change — radically, in some cases — under Trump. Businesses and consumers alike should take heed.
- Marginal Income Tax Rates (Federal)
Despite repeated insistence to the contrary, Donald Trump’s tax plan hews fairly closely to Republican orthodoxy, trimming marginal income tax rates at the high end and slashing taxes on capital gains and other forms of investment income. If Trump wins the presidency and retains a Republican Congress, he’ll likely push through substantial income tax cuts for most Americans — though, in pure dollar terms, the country’s wealthy elite will benefit most.
- Skilled Immigration
Thanks to accelerating technological innovation, U.S. employers face a looming skills gap the likes of which this country has never seen. Our education system simply isn’t turning out enough grads with skills necessary to compete in the 21st century information economy. We’ve always compensated with visa programs that favor highly skilled immigrants, but the skills gap is worsening and it seems unlikely that a Trump-led U.S. government would do anything to increase the country’s annual skilled immigration quotas.
- Trade Policy
Along with immigration, trade is Trump’s top rhetorical target. He never fails to remind his audiences that he’s the best negotiator around — and that he’ll renegotiate “bad trade deals” in America’s favor. Whether it’s entirely legal for a president to unilaterally renegotiate high-level trade deals ratified as treaties is a question for another day. Once elected, Trump will almost certainly seek to bend trade treaties like NAFTA and TPP in a more protectionist direction — up to and including simply stating that the U.S. will no longer abide by their terms, a condition known as abrogation.
- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Donald Trump’s more fanciful promises, such as building a giant wall on the U.S.-Mexico border (that the Mexican government will pay for) or banning an entire religious group from entering the United States, are — to put it mildly — unlikely to come to pass, even if he’s elected with an Electoral College majority. But Trump is almost certain to make good on other prongs of his nationalist platform, such as doing away with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama Administration program that temporarily halts deportation action for undocumented immigrants who arrived here as children. Don’t expect DACA to outlast the first month of a Trump presidency.
How do you expect a potential Trump presidency to change America’s political and economic landscape?