President Trump on Monday formally killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, reapplied abortion restrictions that his predecessor had undone, and imposed a hiring freeze on civilian government agencies.
The moves fulfilled one of Trump’s oldest campaign pledges and kicked off his first full week in office in a generally conservative direction.
“Great thing for the American worker we just did.”
“Great thing for the American worker we just did,” Trump said as he held up the TPP document with his signature.
Earlier on Monday, Trump told business leaders that he would work hard to ensure that American companies manufacture products at home rather than abroad.
Alan Tonelson, an economic policy analyst who writes the RealityChek blog, said the TPP withdrawal — while expected — removes any doubt that the new president was serious about reorienting U.S. trade policy.
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“He certainly has been talking about that practically from Day One,” he said. “But there was speculation that he might soft-pedal that or delay that.”
Even though congressional leaders had long ago made clear that the 12-nation trade agreement that former President Barack Obama had negotiated would not be taken up, Tonelson said that was far from a foregone conclusion before Trump came on the scene.
“It was dead in Congress largely because Trump turned offshoring into a third rail of American politics,” he said.
Trump’s order on the so-called Mexico City Policy restores an executive order first issued by Ronald Reagan that bars federal funds to private organizations that perform or promote abortions abroad. Obama had rescinded the policy in his first week in office in 2009.
Abortion opponents praised Trump Monday.
“President Trump is continuing Ronald Reagan’s legacy by taking immediate action on Day One to stop the promotion of abortion through our tax dollars overseas,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said in a prepared statement. “President Trump’s immediate action to promote respect for all human life, including vulnerable unborn children abroad, as well as conscience rights, sends a strong signal about his Administration’s pro-life priorities.”
Added Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in his own prepared statement: “This is a vital step in the journey to make America great again, recognizing and affirming the universal ideal that all human beings have inherent worth and dignity, regardless of their age or nationality.”
The hiring freeze exempts the military, public health, and public safety. It was part of Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter.”
Anticipating Trump’s action, the Obama administration raced to dramatically step up hiring as the clock ran out. But anyone who has been hired but has not yet begun working could be impacted under a 1981 federal appeals court ruling issued in the early days of the Reagan administration.
Liberal activists blasted the move to slow hiring of federal workers.
“Donald Trump’s administration is profoundly anti-worker, and his decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership doesn’t change that,” Progressive Change Campaign Committee founder Stephanie Taylor said in a statement. “His administration is crammed with bankers and billionaires, and his first actions were to halt overtime pay rules and make it more expensive for middle-class families to buy homes.”