How the President’s First Week Impacts Your Business

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He’s had a busy week.  

The first week of Donald Trump’s administration has been marked by a flurry of executive actions.  These actions, in the form of orders and memorandums, seem to show that President Trump will deliver on the promises he made as Candidate Trump.   Controversial in nature — a move to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the removing of roadblocks from construction of oil pipelines, withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership — Trump’s sprint to deregulate has many businesses cheering (and some not).  

Let’s take a look at the biggest business issues Trump tackled this week:

Overtime Regulations

On Wednesday, the administration indicated it would kill any chance of reviving former President Obama’s expansion of federal overtime rules.  You’ll remember that a Texas federal judge placed a preliminary injunction on the overtime regulations, effectively preserving the status quo until a time when the court could determine the Department of Labor’s authority over the issue.  The White House, then led by President Obama, appealed that decision.  Last week, President Trump’s administration indicated that it may withdraw that White House appeal.  That’s in addition to the White House putting the brakes on all proposed federal regulations that have yet to take effect (done by way of Presidential Memorandum).

(I think it’s safe to say that the overtime regulations put forth by Obama will not stand. Trump’s pick to head the Labor Department, Andrew Puzder, is a fast-food businessman who has been highly critical of the effort.  If you haven’t made accommodations for the new rules, you can likely forget it.)

Obamacare

One of Trump’s first acts as president was to sign an executive order aimed at rolling back Obamacare. That order directs agencies to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay implementation of any provision or requirement” of Obamacare that imposes a burden “to the maximum extent permitted by law,” and to offer the states as much flexibility as possible in implementing healthcare programs.  That’s good news for Obamacare foes.

What the order does not do is grant federal agencies any additional powers they don’t have, which means the ACA remains fundamentally intact, and still faces gutting through reconciliation rather than all out repeal and replace. Still, the action does indicate that Trump sees dismantling Obamacare as a top priority and is willing to move quickly to do so.

(Trump has also given multiple interviews hinting at what his health care reform plan could look like, but he’s said he won’t reveal the plan until his pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Georgia Rep. Tom Price, has been confirmed.  Rand Paul has also unveiled an Obamacare replacement. We’ll continue to cover all of that if and when it progresses.)

Trans-Pacific Partnership

Trump signed an order withdrawing the U.S. from the TPP Trade Agreement negotiations, making good on a long-standing campaign promise.  The order directs the U.S. Trade Representative to instead “begin pursuing, wherever possible, bilateral trade negotiations to promote American industry, protect American workers, and raise American wages.”

This move is largely symbolic, as the trade agreement hadn’t yet been signed by the U.S., and was unlikely to be approved by Congress as it faced opposition from members of both parties. It was also loathed by many small businesses, who cited currency manipulation as the main reason for opposition.  Still, Trump’s order formalizes U.S. withdrawal from the TPP, essentially erasing it.

(Trade is a big deal for Trump.  He announced Sunday that he would also begin renegotiating NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Negotiations have yet to begin, but the results will impact American businesses.)

Reducing Regulations on American Manufacturing

Shortly after Trump was sworn in, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a memorandum instructing all executive departments and agencies to freeze new or pending regulations. And on Tuesday, Trump issued another memorandum instructing the Secretary of Commerce to conduct a 60-day review of federal regulations on domestic manufacturing and to offer a plan to streamline and expedite the permitting process for manufacturers.

Both moves are largely standard practice for White House transition teams, meant to give the incoming administration time to review any new regulations (or halt the implementation of some policies enacted by the previous administration).  Still, given Trump’s campaign pledge to ease regulations on small businesses and manufacturing, and Republicans’ long-standing position to do the same, I’m confident we’ll continue to see action in this area.

Supreme Court Nomination

When Antonin Scalia died in February, his death scrambled the outcome of several Supreme Court cases impacting small businesses.  Trump hasn’t yet revealed his pick for the next Supreme Court nominee, but promises it’s coming soon.  Stay tuned to that.

If this week is any indication, Trump is wasting no time making his mark on public policy.  We’ll continue to monitor the developments that impact your business, and we encourage you to do the same.

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