If President Trump wants to boost opportunities for American to prosper, it won’t be so much the policies he creates as the ones he can eliminate. Over the past eight years, the Obama Administration has built a wall against American innovation and economic expansion. Trump has already gotten to work tearing down that wall with his executive actions paving the way for the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.
Now Trump should strike down three key Obama executive orders to make the first few weeks a success for the people.
‘Wet Foot Dry Foot’ Policy
Praised by the Cuban government as a way “to guarantee normal, safe and ordered migration,” Obama’s Executive Order ending the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy is nothing more than a political favor to a coercive government. The policy originated in a 1995 agreement stating Cuban refugees intercepted off shore would be returned to Cuba, while those landing on shore could stay in America and apply for asylum. That was a step away from the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, which made no distinction between wet and dry.
We should be reminded of the poem, “The New Colossus”:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
These words enshrined on the Statue of Liberty should guide Trump and America’s policy towards Cuba. If you desire to be free no matter your lot in life, America is a welcoming place. Bringing back a “wet foot, dry foot” policy would continue to encourage Cuba to change its coercive ways. Ending a speedy pathway for Cubans will only bring more power to a festering Cuban regime.
Those on the left are very quick to argue against government involvement in personal relationships, but readily treat business relationships like a plague. Employers and employees are nothing more than voluntary working relationships. Mandating salaried workers overtime pay makes many beneficial relationships illegal.
Currently overtime pay is mandated on hours worked above 40 if total earnings are less than $23,360 per year. Obama recently enacted an executive order that is currently blocked by a judge, increasing the salary threshold to $47,476 per year for employees subject to incurring mandatory overtime pay. (Before this rule, no employer was banned from offering overtime pay if they desired to.)
This means fewer hours and opportunity for those most in need. When an employee is hired to perform work at $10 an hour, they must produce more than $10 worth of value during that hour. Forcing an employee to be paid $15 an hour with no increase in productivity, the employer will stop the employee from working beyond 40 hours a week. The employee never sees overtime pay and new employees would be hired at lower salaries to compensate for the lack of overtime.
If the employee agreed to work 50 hours before, they could have brought home $100 more that week. Under the Obama-era executive order, an employee could legally earn no less than $150 more for the extra 10 hours—with anything less a punishable crime. The very people who need and have the most desire to improve their plot in life are banned by executive order.
Work for Welfare
Welfare should be judged not by how it grows, but how it shrinks. That seems to be an idea forgotten during the Obama presidency, which saw the gradual disappearance of a long-standing work requirement for welfare recipients under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
President Bill Clinton signed TANF into law in 1996, It mandated 20-35 hours of work each week in exchange for benefits for households with children. The goal was to incentivize parents to earn a living without government assistance, and keep families together. The work requirement and time limit on benefits helped families seek work and gradually pull away from the welfare cliff.
Trump could help bring sanity back to an already overburdened welfare system by reversing Obama’s executive order ending the work requirement. That would encourage families to live by their own means, not at the pleasure of the federal government.
It’s safe to say many Americans have reservations about Trump. But a population suspicious of a centralized authority may be the key to recovering our liberties. These three necessary executive orders would turn back some of Obama’s instances of overreach. But to secure liberty for future generations and ourselves, more power must be taken away from the president no matter who holds the office.
(First published at Opportunity Lives)