To hear President Trump tell it (and you can, in the video above), he is way ahead of the game on just about any policy question he is asked about, regardless of whether he has a realistic plan for handling said policy.
Less than one week into office, Trump told ABC News he would announce his decision about reopening CIA “black sites” in “two hours.” Ten days later, the White House backed off the proposal.
In February 2017, Trump said he was “looking at” both a two-state and a one-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nearly two years later, the White House has yet to take an official position.
And when Trump said this month that Republicans were “studying very deeply” a “major” tax cut ahead of the midterm elections, his administration told reporters it had no idea what he was talking about.
Each rudderless proposal appears to be an outgrowth of something Trump has returned to over the last three years: Not wanting to “telegraph” his plans, the latest of which came last week, when Trump baselessly suggested that he could revoke birthright citizenship via executive order, sparking a flurry of media coverage, even while saying little of actual substance. But his reaction at the end of an exchange with Axios in an interview that aired on Nov. 4 was perhaps the most telling.
“That’s a very interesting question — I didn’t think anybody knew that but me,” Trump said when asked about a potential executive action on birthright citizenship, seemingly surprised anyone knew he was considering it. “I thought I was the only one.”
As president, Trump has increasingly floated thin or nonexistent policy proposals, often accompanied by caveats with some variation of “we’re looking into it."
Will he fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions? “We are looking at lots of different things.”
Will he build a U.S. military base in Poland? “We’re looking at it very seriously.”
Will he restart licensing at Yucca Mountain after setting aside millions for it? “We will be looking at it very seriously over the next few weeks.”
The proposals floated, but yet to be implemented by Trump, include:
- Revoking birthright citizenship
- Antitrust investigations into Amazon, Facebook and Google
- The Civil War in Yemen
- A new middle-class tax cut
- A plan for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program
- An infrastructure plan
- Breaking up Wall Street banks
- Raising the gas tax
- Reopening CIA “black sites”
- Charging Mexico for a southern border wall
- A resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- Purging leaks in the White House
- A policy for Chinese construction in the South China Sea
- Tightening gun laws
- Calling for line-item veto authority
- Labeling China a currency manipulator
- Indexing capital gains to inflation
- Changing quarterly earnings reports
- Declassifying Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act documents
- Opening a permanent U.S. military base in Poland
- Firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions
- A tariff exemption for Mid Continent Nail
- A military intervention in Venezuela
- A plan for Yucca Mountain
- Changing transgender rights
- Changing libel laws
- Congressional term limits
- A Muslim registry
- Divesting from his business
- Releasing his tax returns
- A mission to Mars
After Trump imposed tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines in January, he was asked whether he was planning additional tariffs on steel and aluminum.
“We’re looking at it,” Trump said. “We’re looking at a lot of things.”
Less than two months later, the steel and aluminum tariffs were on the books.
This post has been updated with the latest thing President Trump is “looking into."