Dean Paszek couldn’t stay up to watch the Presidential election results last Tuesday night.
“I’m type of the guy who gets all worked up and will have a heart attack,” says Paszek, 63, a retired engineer who lives in Chilton, Wisconsin.
Instead he went to sleep and then awoke at 5 a.m. the following morning, grabbed his phone, and looked up the results. “I jumped up and down on my bed for the first time in 50 years,” he says. His candidate, Donald Trump, had won.
But with great power comes great responsibility — and in this case even greater expectations.
Trump campaigned on a platform of lowering taxes, improving the economy — especially increasing manufacturing jobs — and heightening security on America’s southern boarder with Mexico.
And that is exactly what his supporters want to see. The GOP, after all, now controls both the executive and legislative branches of government, making it hard to lay blame on congressional Democrats if they fail to pass their agenda.
“The Republicans have both houses of Congress — he doesn’t have any excuses,” says Jim Albetta, a retired director of credit for a major corporation in Monroe, New Jersey. “People are expecting him to be able to do what he said he’d do.”
That includes the following:
After Trump repeals executive orders signed by President Obama, Len Mead, 74, knows exactly what he wants Trump to focus on: “Start construction on the wall.”
“You want to come here, fine, but we’re a nation of legal immigrants,” says Mead, a retiree in Apollo Beach, Florida, who says he expects construction to start immediately.
Larry Marlin of Oldsmar, Florida, agrees that we’ll see some kind of wall, and expects more deportation of undocumented immigrants, especially those who’ve been convicted of a crime. “They need to enforce the border,” says Marlin, 72.
But when talk shifts from the wall to immigration in general, things start to get a bit blurred.
Trump has already begun to hedge on his campaign immigration rhetoric. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Trump said his administration would focus on deporting two to three million undocumented immigrants, rather than the 11 million who reside in the country.
And not all of his supporters endorse a hard stance on immigration.
For instance, Don Hespell, a 64-year-old vice president of a community-based human service agency near Chicago, says he doesn’t want to see the government break up families in the name of deporting undocumented workers already in the country.
“I think there is a middle ground we can find if we set ideology aside in favor of compassion,” he says.
It’s simple, says Bill Fadrowski of Waterford, Wisconsin. The retired police captain wants President-elect Trump to lower taxes on personal income.
“I would like to see a strong commitment to an across-the-board tax cut for individuals to stimulate the economy,” says Fadrowski, 64.
Trump has committed to reshaping the tax code from seven rates to three, with the largest breaks going to the nation’s wealthiest citizens.
Hespell is also looking for tax cuts, but puts the emphasis on lowering corporate taxes to bolster U.S. jobs.
“I would like to see Trump try to bring business back to USA by cutting the onerous taxes that incentivize businesses to go overseas,” says Hespell, who admits he was never Trump’s biggest fan and voted against Clinton more than for Trump.
“It’s time that government learns that it doesn’t always have to use a hammer to get what it wants.” The current corporate tax rate is 35%, and Trump wants to lower it to 15%.
Albetta agrees. He’d also like to see the government allow the repatriation of overseas profits taxed at a lower rate.
“To me, the easiest thing you can do — and the fastest thing — is to reduce the taxes on money that companies are keeping overseas,” says Albetta, 67. There’s currently $2 trillion in untaxed profits stashed outside the U.S.
Marlin says he voted for Trump in large measure to stop the policies of Secretary Clinton.
“I’m looking to not have free college tuition, or increasing welfare, or expanding current programs,” says the Vietnam War veteran. “The Veterans Administration is over-funded, for example.”
Marlin is on-board with Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan, but is wary that it may be mismanaged, which is how he characterizes Obama’s 2009 stimulus plan. Mainly he wants to limit spending.
Fadrowski, though, is looking for more government action to boost the economy beyond tax cuts.
He wants the new administration to renegotiate “the terrible trade agreements that led to millions of job losses due to an unfair playing field for American companies and workers.” He’s also in favor of “rolling back the onerous regulations on American industries and companies that cost us jobs.”
U.S. manufacturing employment has declined dramatically since 2000, a period that spans Democratic and Republican presidents.
Albetta will be happy to see businesses less encumbered by regulation too. He remembers when we worked for a large mining company that eventually shut down a plant in Washington state, rather than pay the costs to comply increased environmental rules.
“We’ve seen overreach in the past eight years,” he says.
Fadrowski says he is troubled by the cost increase in premiums for plans on the state exchanges through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Jim Albetta favors allowing insurers to sell plans over state lines, a stance Trump supported during the campaign, so consumers can shop for cheaper rates. But he backs popular parts of Obamacare, including allowing children to stay on their parent’s plan until 26 and keeping pre-existing conditions reforms.
Regardless of the issue, Trump’s capacity for effective deal-making will be put to the test immediately as he tries to enact his agenda. It’s easy to forget in the Sturm und Drang of last week that Trump won the election by the slimmest of margins, and faces historically low favorability ratings for a new President.
“I’m hopeful that he’ll get it done,” says Marlin.
So is Fadrowski, who said Trump’s win was “a victory for people that didn’t feel like they had a voice.”
Now it’s Trump’s job not just to listen to those voices, but to actually deliver.