Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017. Since then, he has run an administration vastly different than that of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Moreover,
Trump has killed many Obama policies that were once considered hallmarks of the 44th president's administration.
The number of Obama-era policies that Trump has ended is quite extensive and the issue areas covered by these policies are vast. They include everything from women's rights to immigration, worker protections, climate change, and beyond.
In May 2018,
The Guardian reported that many perceive Trump's approach to his predecessor's policies as particularly aggressive and unique for a president. Lanhee Chen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, California, echoed this sentiment to the paper. As she put it to The Guardian: It’s not unusual for a president to want to do things differently from his predecessor. I will say the scope and ambition of Trump’s effort to do that is breathtaking. Whether it’s breathtakingly good or breathtakingly bad depends on your point of view.
It's quite clear just by looking at the Obama-era policies that Trump's administration has reversed that the 45th president is governing very differently than the 44th. The list below reflects just some of the many policies proposed or implemented by the Obama administration that the Trump administration has now scaled back or ended completely.
In September 2017, the Trump administration rescinded a planned Obama administration rule (that would've taken effect in March 2018) designed to
increase pay transparency and diminish pay gaps. The rule required companies of a certain size to report how much they pay employees by race and gender.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program
In May 2018,
Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, a 2015 agreement negotiated by Obama's administration. The multi-country deal lifted some economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for increased regulations on its nuclear program. As the New York Times reported, in announcing the United States' departure from the agreement, Trump called it "a horrible one-sided deal."
The Employer Birth Control Mandate
Back in October 2017, the Trump administration announced that it would allow almost any employer to claim a
moral or religious exemption to Obamacare's birth control mandate, as Politico reported. The Trump administration issued two interim rules to allow for more flexibility with employer exemptions, making it far easier for companies to avoid providing employees with no-cost birth control than under Obama. These interim rules were finalized in November 2018.
However, just hours after the rules went into effect in January 2019, they were
blocked nationwide by a federal court.
Federal Prosecution Guidelines
In May 2017, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructed federal prosecutors to "charge and pursue the
most serious, readily provable offense" against defendants. This move marked a stark deviation from the policies of Obama's Justice Department. As NPR reported, former Attorney General Eric Holder had particularly instructed prosecutors to avoid charging nonviolent drug offenders with crimes that require mandatory minimum sentencing.
Transgender Worker Protections
Campus Sexual Assault Guidelines
In September 2017, Trump's Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded Obama-era
guidelines on investigating campus sexual assaults. DeVos' decision once again provided colleges with more flexibility in how they handle sexual assault cases, including through increasing the burden of proof necessary for determining whether a student is guilty of sexual assault. In November 2018, the New York Times reported DeVos released a draft of new guidelines that offer more protections to schools and to those who are accused of sexual assault.
Transgender Student Protections
Police Departments & Military Weapons
In 2015, President Obama issued an executive order banning the transfer of certain types of military-grade equipment to local police departments. In explaining his decision, the 44th president asserted (via CNN),
We've seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there's an occupying force as opposed to a force that's part of the community that's protecting them and serving them ... It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message.
In August 2017, Trump signed his own executive order rescinding Obama's order. At the time, CNN reported that then-Attorney General Sessions told an audience of law enforcement officers:
The executive order the President will sign today will ensure that you can get the lifesaving gear that you need to do your job and send a strong message that we will not allow criminal activity, violence and lawlessness to become a new normal.
Temporary Residency Program For Central American Kids
In April 2017, Trump officially ended an Obama-era program that offered temporary residency to undocumented children from several countries in Central America if they already had a parent legally residing in the United States.
2,714 minors had already been pre-approved for the program when Trump shut it down.
The Mexico City Policy/Global Gag Rule
In January 2017, Trump re-instated and expanded what is known as the global gag rule, a policy that had been rescinded under President Obama. Trump's presidential memorandum mandated that all foreign organizations that receive U.S. global health assistance cannot provide abortion services or counsel patients about abortion. Trump's expansion of the global gag rule was perceived by reproductive health advocates as being particularly
detrimental for women's and girl's health worldwide.
Under President Obama, the Department of Justice had planned to phase out its use of private prisons. As
The Hill reported, on Aug. 16, 2016, an order from the department instructed officials not to renew any private prison contracts. In a memo announcing the change, then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates had written, "They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources," as the Washington Post reported.
However, in February 2017, then-Attorney General Sessions rescinded this order.
Water Pollution Regulations
On Dec. 11, the BBC reported that
Trump's EPA released a proposal that wants to change the Obama administration's definition of federal waters. According to the outlet, the proposal could lift pollution restrictions on certain bodies of water.
School Lunch Nutrition Standards
On Dec. 8, Trump's Department of Agriculture announced that it
is lowering nutrition standards for certain school lunch foods, the New York Times reported. These standards were implemented under the Obama administration — and largely spearheaded by former first lady Michelle Obama — as a way to improve students' health.
The new Trump administration rules relax grain requirements for school lunches, eliminating the Obama-era requirement that
schools only serve "whole grain-rich" foods, the New York Times described. The Trump administration's rules also loosen restrictions on flavored milk and on salt content in food.
In June 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed net neutrality regulations that were put in place under Obama. As the
Washington Post reported, net neutrality ensured that internet service providers had to provide equal access to all internet content. Now that net neutrality has been repealed, internet service providers (ISPs) can legally choose to prioritize some internet content over others. This includes changing access speeds and selling paid access to certain content or download speeds, if ISPs so desire.
Back in April 2017, Trump signed a law allowing states to
withhold federal family planning funding from organizations that perform abortions, including Planned Parenthood. As the New York Times reported, shortly before he left office, Obama implemented a rule prohibiting states from withholding family planning funding from organizations that happen to perform abortions in addition to other reproductive health services.
It's very apparent that Trump's administration has sought to dismantle key policy initiatives from Obama's time in office. It remains to be seen what, if any, other Obama-era initiatives Trump's administration will target — and how these potential changes may affect the United States.