Gillian Blease/Getty Images/Ikon Images
Gillian Blease/Getty Images/Ikon Images
Before Donald Trump takes the oath of office in January, there are a lot of questions about how he will decide key policy issues.
We've identified the top 10 issues voters care about most according to a 2016 survey from the Pew Research Center and charted what Trump has said about each of them. The issues are, in order: the economy, terrorism, foreign policy, health care, gun policy, immigration, Social Security, education, Supreme Court appointments and the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities.
Where we could, we gave Trump's stances a simple "Yes" or "No," but also used the rating "It's Complicated" in cases where his stance is more nuanced or has changed.
(Trump has given clues on what he'll prioritize in his first 100 days, which we've posted here and fact checked here.)
Trump hopes to grow the economy by significantly lowering taxes. Under his plan, he says a middle-class family with two children would get a 35 percent income tax cut. He will also reduce the number of tax brackets from seven down to three, which would largely benefit the wealthiest Americans. When it comes to business tax rates, Trump wants to go from a 35 percent rate to 15 percent.
Trump is also big on infrastructure as a way to create jobs. He says he would grant the permit needed for the Keystone Pipeline despite opposition from environmental activists, as NPR's Scott Horsley outlined. He also plans to cancel all payments to U.N. climate change programs and put that money toward "water and environmental infrastructure," as he wrote in his 100-day action plan. Trump would also lift restrictions on the oil, coal, shale and natural gas industries. In addition, he plans to impose tariffs to discourage companies from relocating to other countries.
Trump made fighting terrorism a central pillar of his campaign and strengthened his hard-line stances with each high-profile terror attack, from the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., last December to the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., in June.
In his 100-day action plan, Trump promised to "suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting." During his campaign, he also condoned other extreme counter-terrorism tactics, like waterboarding.
When it comes to foreign policy, Trump's main focus has been to upend U.S. trade policy. He has promised to renegotiate or withdraw from NAFTA, the United States' free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. According to NPR's Marilyn Geewax, actually doing away with NAFTA might not actually be feasible, but Trump could undermine it. He also wants to label China a currency manipulator and, per his 100-day plan, "identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately."
Trump's main goal for health care policy is to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That feat will be harder than Trump seems to think, as we reported. To completely repeal and replace the act, he would need 60 votes in the Senate, which is the number needed to overcome a filibuster. Though they'll make up a majority, there will be only 51 Republican senators come January. He recently signaled in an interview that he may be open to keeping provisions of Obamacare that expand insurance to people with pre-existing conditions and to young people.
Trump has also promised to allow tax deductions for child care and elder care and to create tax-free dependent care savings accounts, with matching contributions for low-income families. As we reported earlier this year, that would cost the government $25 billion annually.
Donald Trump aligned himself strongly with the National Rifle Association, which endorsed him, and also with Second Amendment protectionists (though no major candidate claimed to want to take away gun rights outright). Trump has said states should be more diligent about putting criminal and mental health records into existing background check systems.
Restricting immigration appears to be top-of-mind for Trump's presidency, at least initially. In his 100-day plan, Trump promised to cancel federal funding to "sanctuary cities," though he hasn't specified which funds he would cut. There's no legal definition for this type of city; it's used to describe places with policies limiting how much local authorities can collaborate with federal authorities on immigration issues, such as detention requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to CNN.
Trump has also promised to undo all of President Obama's executive actions, which include two on immigration (only one of which is in effect). Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals allows certain people brought to the country illegally as children to apply for protection against deportation for two-year periods. That protection would go away, it seems.
Trump has also promised to deport immigrants in the country illegally who have committed crimes, stop immigration from "terror-prone" regions and begin "extreme vetting" of people entering the U.S. He has also mostly stood by his vow to build a wall on the country's southern border, and make Mexico pay for it. Trump and some surrogates have said recently they would be OK with certain areas of the border having fence, rather than wall.
Trump does not want to privatize Social Security, nor does he want to raise the retirement age or increase taxes. He told AARP he plans to fund the entitlement program through "an economy that is robust and growing," and he specifically highlighted his tax and immigration plans as key players in that growth.
Trump has been vocal about school choice, which allows parents to choose to send their child to any type of school: traditional public, private or charter. Critics say school choice leads to a gap in equitable school investment. Proponents say it increases competition between schools. In addition to school choice, Trump wants to end the Common Core standards, which are the federal guidelines created for K-12 education across the country. States were able to choose to opt in (some didn't) — and the federal government encouraged it.
Supreme Court Appointments
Trump has released two lists, adding up to 21 judges, to fill the Supreme Court vacancy resulting from Antonin Scalia's death last February. According to NPR's Nina Totenberg, the lists are very conservative and a lot is unknown about who is helping Trump make this selection. With two other justices over 80 years old, it's possible Trump will be able to nominate more than one justice during his presidency.
The Treatment of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
The relationship between police and their treatment of African-Americans was a common topic this election year. Trump ran as the "law and order" candidate and he's sticking to it: He plans on increasing funding for federal law enforcement "to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars." He also wants to provide more funding and training to local police departments.
Trump has been criticized for his own rhetoric on minorities, most notably referring to Mexican immigrants as rapists in his June 2015 announcement speech and calling for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Stephan Bisaha, Alyson Hurt, Clinton King and Lisa Charlotte Rost designed the charts for this post. A version of this story, breaking down where all the major candidiates stood, was published ahead of Election Day.