How Trump's Executive Orders Could Affect Your Wallet

Donald Trump

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Donald Trump
Evan El-Amin/shutterstock


Unilateral executive orders are among the surest ways a president can flex the muscle of the most powerful office in the world, and U.S. leaders starting with George Washington have used them -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed a record 3,721. Donald Trump's young presidency has seen a whirlwind of such orders, with more than a dozen in just his first week. Although it's yet to be seen how they will play out, some could affect the wallets of everyone from seniors to doctors to small-business owners.



Signed: Jan. 20
A GOP target since its inception, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, can be repealed only by Congress. Trump, however, signed an order on his first day in office that changes how the law is enforced. In response, the Internal Revenue Service will now accept a tax return that doesn't have information about full-year health coverage -- although the government could still decide to penalize people lacking it. More seriously, many voters are panicked by the thought of returning to the insurance landscape from before Obamacare, when they weren't guaranteed coverage for health problems.

Related: 10 Ways to Prevent Financial Disaster From a Serious Illness

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Signed: Jan. 23
This 12-nation trade treaty signed by President Barack Obama and awaiting Congress' approval was expected to lower the costs of goods from Pacific Rim countries such as Japan and open those markets to more U.S. exports, which might have created jobs. Now consumers here will go on paying "hidden taxes" of up to 67.5 percent on footwear or 32 percent on apparel, according to the National Retail Federation. Trump's order makes it a treaty of 11 nations, including Canada. He has also vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement that began in 1994.

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Signed: Jan. 23
As part of his "drain the swamp" campaign promise, Trump ordered a 90-day freeze on the hiring of federal employees, with broad exceptions including the military and anything relating to public safety, to be followed by "a long-term plan to reduce the size of the federal government's workforce through attrition." While 20,000 or fewer hires are affected immediately, the Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal estimates, there's no telling what's in store for the jobs and pay of the 2 million-person non-military federal workforce. Some effects have been seen already, though, such as military-base child-care shutdowns due to lack of staff.

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Signed: Jan. 24
Trump signed orders advancing construction on the controversial Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines, saying the pipelines will lower gas prices, create 28,000 jobs, and reduce dependency on foreign oil. Opponents say none of that is true, and Americans will wind up paying more because of disastrous environmental implications. Trump also ordered that U.S. steel be used in pipeline construction, which -- if the demand works -- could boost jobs in a 142,000-person sector that was already expected to rebound in 2017. But it could also raise prices of anything made with U.S. steel.

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Signed: Jan. 24
An order to streamline federal permitting processes and reduce regulations on domestic manufacturers could lead to more, bigger factories (i.e., construction work) with more employees making more goods, which could sell at lower prices. But the actual outcome isn't clear. Many experts point to automation as the biggest factor behind the decline in manufacturing jobs, so while prices on some goods could theoretically fall, any bump in hiring could be small.

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Signed: Jan. 25
Creating National School Choice week in January is ceremonial, but together with the appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary, it sends a positive signal for charter, magnet, private, and online schools, as well as debt-inducing for-profit colleges. Vouchers often fail to keep up with rising prices, and private schools aren't required to accept or keep all students. The order could be worrisome for people who rely on public education, which would likely see less funding, and for those who remember that Trump's own for-profit education company, Trump University, agreed to a $25 million settlement on fraud charges.

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Signed: Jan. 25
Trump campaigned on building a wall to keep out undocumented immigrants from Mexico, but his promise of getting Mexico to pay for it seems unlikely. Instead, funding for the $12 billion to $25 billion project could come from increased tariffs on Mexican imports, or an increase in the cost of travel visas or fees associated with crossing the border. The proposed idea to raise the money through tariffs on goods imported from Mexico could cost U.S. consumers at the checkout, however. Mexico was the third-largest supplier of goods to the U.S. in 2015, including cars, TVs, beer and tequila, and foods including avocado and tomatoes.

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Signed: Jan. 25
Trump signed an order asking the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to withhold funding to cities that refuse federal requests to hand over undocumented immigrants for deportation. The order, targeting so-called sanctuary cities, is vaguely worded, and it's unclear how or if it will be implemented. If it is, those 100-plus cities -- and their residents -- would have to make up for millions of dollars in budget shortfalls, which could mean tighter municipal budgets, higher taxes, and the loss of everything from Head Start preschool programs to airport improvements.



Signed: Jan. 30
On his 10th day in office, Trump signed an order limiting the government's ability to regulate small businesses. It is yet to be seen how the plan will be implemented or how business owners will be affected, but a survey this year by the National Small Business Association found that the average owner spent at least $12,000 every year on regulations, and 28 percent said it takes more than 80 hours each year to deal with them.



Signed: Feb. 3
Another Trump order threatens the "fiduciary rule" set to begin April 10. The rule requires financial advisers to act only in the best interests of their clients. The financial industry largely lauded Trump's order, calling the rule unnecessary. Consumers, however, could be adversely affected by investment advice from professionals putting their commissions ahead of a client's 401(k).