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What Donald Trump might do if he wins a second term in 2024

Bryan Metzger   

What Donald Trump might do if he wins a second term in 2024
  • Donald Trump may win the 2024 presidential election, sending him back to the White House.
  • His second administration could be far more radical than the first one.

In January 2025, Donald Trump may be sworn into office as the 47th President of the United States.

Despite his ongoing legal troubles, plenty of national polling shows the former president being either tied or leading President Joe Biden,

A second term for Biden could mean either more of the same or a flurry of new progressive policies, if Democrats gain control of both chambers of Congress.

Another Trump term, on the other hand, would likely entail a radical reversal from not just the previous four years, but even from Trump's first term in office.

That becomes clear after examining the former president's campaign proposals, reading his April interview with TIME, reviewing reporting from The New York Times, and perusing proposals made by the conservative Heritage Foundation's Project 2025.

Some of these proposals may depend on Republicans gaining control of both the House and Senate, a likely possibility — though not guaranteed — if Trump wins the presidency.

While not exhaustive, here's just some of what to expect in a second Trump administration.

Radically reshaping the federal bureaucracy

Perhaps the most unorthodox — and to some, frightening — aspects of Trump's planning for a second term involve restructuring the executive branch in a manner that would drastically increase presidential power.

That includes exercising more direct control over the hundreds of thousands of civilian servants who populate federal agencies — many of whom are apolitical, and often remain in their jobs across presidential administrations.

Trump has pledged to bring back "Schedule F," a classification for civil servants that was created — but never used — in October 2020. Biden later rescinded it after taking office. That classification was designed to skirt the typical job protections afforded to career civil servants.

Trump's plans also include bringing independent agencies — such as the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission — under direct presidential control, a departure from decades of precedent. That could also include the Federal Reserve, the country's central banking system, though that's less clear.

Lastly, he has pledged to bring back "impoundment," in which the executive branch refuses to spend money provided by Congress. That's been illegal since 1974, but Trump is pledging to challenge it.

One of the hallmarks of Trump's first term was that he was significantly constrained, both by his advisors and aspects of the federal bureaucracy. Taken together, these proposals show how that could change.

A murky stance on abortion

In April, Trump declared that he believed abortion should be decided at the state level, seemingly rejecting the idea of enacting nationwide restrictions on the procedure.

"The states are going to say. It's irrelevant whether I'm comfortable or not," Trump told TIME. "It's totally irrelevant, because the states are going to make those decisions."

But that doesn't fully address the complexity of the issue — and it's unclear how far other Republicans may go.

In an April interview with TIME, Trump refused to say whether he would veto abortion restrictions passed by a Republican-controlled Congress, insisting there "will never be that chance because it won't happen."

He has also refused to state his position on whether mifepristone — a medication that enabled an estimated 63% of abortions in the US in 2023 — should remain legal.

Some of his allies have called for the enforcement of a 19th-century law called the Comstock Act that could be used to outlaw the mailing of the pill, a move that would affect women in a variety of states.

The potential of mass deportations and ending some birthright citizenship

Trump is expected to take a far more harsh approach toward illegal immigration and border security if elected — including pledging to carry out a massive deportation operation that could include the use of the National Guard.

That could include new detention camps, according to Stephen Miller, the architect of much of Trump's immigration policy.

Miller told The New York Times that a second Trump administration would build "vast holding facilities that would function as staging centers" on "open land in Texas near the border."

Trump has also pledged to end so-called "birthright citizenship" for the children of people who entered the country illegally and are not citizens. But it could be tricky.

The US Constitution guarantees birthright citizenship via the 14th Amendment, which states that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Trump has pledged to sign an executive order making clear that those children are not "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States — a move likely to be challenged in court.

Retribution against political opponents

Trump has pledged to appoint a special prosecutor to go after the Biden family, arguing that it's only fair given that he has faced criminal charges across a variety of jurisdictions for his "hush money" payments, his mishandling of classified documents, and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

It's part of a broader effort by Trump and his allies to curtail the independence of the Department of Justice, the nation's top law enforcement agency. Since the Nixon era, there have been strong norms around keeping the department at arm's length from the president, but some argue that shouldn't be the case — and that the present-day norms are a facade anyway.

Pardoning January 6 rioters

Trump has also promised to issue pardons for those who've faced federal convictions in connection to the January 6 assault on the US Capitol.

He has described jailed or imprisoned rioters as "hostages" and "political prisoners," and his campaign rallies have at times begun with a version of the national anthem sung by January 6 defendants.

In a recent interview with TIME, he said that he would not pardon those who were "evil and bad," but claimed that many of the rioters were "ushered in" by Capitol Police.

Tariffs on all imported goods

If re-elected, the former president has proposed many protectionist policies, including universal 10% tariffs on all imported goods.

"I call it a ring around the country," Trump told TIME.

Experts have warned that such a policy would simply increase consumer costs while doing little to boost domestic manufacturing and jobs.

He has also pledged to work with Congress to pass a bill enacting "reciprocal" tariffs on goods from other countries: For example, if China were to enact a 100% tariff on products from the US, the US would enact a 100% tariffs on Chinese-made goods in return.

Less willingness to protect allies abroad

Trump's positioning on the present-day wars has been somewhat murky — he's not as opposed to Ukraine aid as much of his party, and he's been far more willing to criticize Israel's war in Gaza.

"I think that Israel has done one thing very badly: public relations," Trump told TIME, blaming Israel in part for the lack of progress on a two-state solution.

But if there's been one consistent throughline of the former president's foreign policy thinking, it's a suspicion of long-standing arrangements designed to underpin the global world order.

Perhaps the most significant change Trump wants to see is a "reevaluation" of the purpose of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an alliance between the US and Europe that dates back to the Cold War. Trump has long argued that the US is spending too much to defend the continent.

Trump has also argued that much of the existing foreign policy establishment in Washington, DC needs to be overhauled, deriding officials at the State Department and Pentagon as "warmongers" and members of the "deep state."

Tax policy

As president, Trump and the Republican-led Congress passed the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a significant overhaul of the tax code that included cuts to individual and estate taxes and a significant lowering of the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

Much of those cuts, aside from the corporate tax cut, are set to expire in 2025. According to Bloomberg, Trump wants to extend those cuts in a second term.

More vaguely, Trump has also proposed taxing private university endowments to fund a new federally-operated university called the "American Academy."

Social Security and Medicare

It remains unclear whether Trump would seek cuts to Social Security and Medicare in a second term — he's historically said a variety of contradictory things on the matter.

In March, Trump said in a CNBC interview that there's "a lot you can do in terms of entitlements in terms of cutting," seemingly suggesting that he would pursue cuts to entitlement programs. His campaign later backtracked on those remarks, saying he simply wanted to "get rid of waste and fraud."

Democrats have been eager to highlight the possibility of Republican-led cuts to the programs, which primarily benefit older Americans, while Republicans have often insisted that they are not interested in making changes to those programs.

During the final year of Trump's presidency, his White House released a budget for Fiscal Year 2021 that included some cuts to Social Security benefits, though the document never became law.





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