Jan 17, 2018, 5:33 AM ET

Obama undone: In first year, Trump unravels predecessor's signature achievements

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What started with an executive order signed hours after Trump was sworn into office has become a signature of his presidency so far: undoing the policies of his predecessor.

And perhaps that shouldn't come as a shock. During his historic presidential bid, Trump labeled President Barack Obama a "disaster," a "catastrophe," and "the most ignorant president in our history."

In keeping with the norm of ex-presidents, President Obama has stayed relatively quiet as Trump has moved to dismantle his signature achievements in healthcare, foreign policy, and the economy.

Here’s a look at some at some of those policies President Trump, with the help of a Republican controlled Congress, has managed to unravel after one year into his historic presidency.

The Individual Mandate

If we heard it once, we heard it a dozen times: On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare "on day one."

But after intense, months-long debate, the Republican Congress failed to scrap the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, burning precious legislative time along the way.

The president did manage by the end of the year to deal the law a devastating blow within the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which included a measure that did away with the so-called “individual mandate” that required Americans to have health insurance or face a tax penalty. That provision was critical to Obamacare and was designed to ensure that healthy people as well as sick ones paid into the system.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump signs the Tax Cut and Reform Bill, a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul package, into law in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., Dec. 22, 2017. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images, FILE
President Donald Trump signs the Tax Cut and Reform Bill, a $1.5 trillion tax overhaul package, into law in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, D.C., Dec. 22, 2017.

After signing the tax bill into law the president erroneously claimed it "essentially repealed Obamacare.” In fact, the healthcare law, however wounded, remains in place. Several popular provisions, like the prohibition against discriminating against pre-existing conditions and the medicare expansion, remain in effect.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that without the individual mandate, more than 13 million fewer people will be insured by 2027, and premiums will likely skyrocket. (Congress is working on premium stabilization.)

The president also used his executive power to end cost sharing-reduction payments, government payments under Obamacare that helped insurers offset the cost of providing healthcare to some of the poorest Americans. Congress says it’s working on a permanent fix to this problem, which threatens to raise premiums if nothing is done.

Paris Climate Accord

Perhaps no other move by President Trump was more unexpected and controversial than his decision to yank the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord, a United Nations- sponsored deal that created a worldwide commitment to slow global warming.

Under the terms of the agreement reached during the Obama administration, the U.S. made a large pledge to cut carbon emissions by more than a quarter. But Trump said the agreement put U.S. business at an economic disadvantage, and forecasted "lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production" if the country didn't pull out.

Critics — who believe some conservatives' denial of rising global temperatures signaled a rejection of science — noted that businesses from Google to GE had urged Trump to stay the course, claiming the accord could actually spur job growth.

But Trump plowed ahead, prompting applause from conservatives like House Speaker Paul Ryan, who called the accord a "raw deal," as well as backlash from liberals.

173 countries plus the European Union remain signatories to the climate agreement, and several U.S. mayors and governors have pledged to meet the stated reductions in carbon emissions despite the president’s decision to withdraw.

Diplomatic Relations with Cuba

Following three years of easing tensions with Cuba under President Obama, President Trump in June declared he was "cancelling the last administration's completely one-sided deal" with the Caribbean island nation.

PHOTO: A Cuban flag is pictured over Plaza de la Cathdral in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba in this undated stock photo.STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images
A Cuban flag is pictured over Plaza de la Cathdral in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba in this undated stock photo.

Five months later, the administration began implementing new restrictions, once again barring American tourists from traveling to Cuba via "people-to-people" exchange — a program that allowed U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba to experience culture without specific ties to companies or people there — and prohibiting American companies from doing business with entities tied to the Cuban military or intelligence service.

Transgender Military Service

In July, President Trump blindsided the Pentagon when he tweeted that the U.S. "will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military," adding that the Defense Department "cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption" that come with trans people's service.

President Trump's surprise tweet came just over a year after Obama's Defense Secretary, Ash Carter, officially lifted the ban in 2016.

PHOTO: A rainbow flag flies in Times Square, July 26, 2017, in New York, as people protest President Donald Trumps announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military.Carlo Allegri/Reuters, FILE
A rainbow flag flies in Times Square, July 26, 2017, in New York, as people protest President Donald Trump's announcement that he plans to reinstate a ban on transgender individuals from serving in any capacity in the U.S. military.

A month after the 140-character decree, Trump signed a memo formally directing the Pentagon to return to its pre-2016 policy by March 2018.

"Further study" was needed, he said, to ensure transgender inclusion "would not hinder military effectiveness and lethality, disrupt unit cohesion, or tax military resources."

But before it could take effect, a federal court put a stop to the impending ban, and effective Jan. 2, transgender individuals were allowed to enlist for the first time. Meanwhile, the Pentagon’s review about transgender policy is due March, and their future remains uncertain until then.

TPP & NAFTA

On his very first day in office, Trump signed an executive order signaling his intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a wide-ranging trade agreement aimed at encouraging trade between 12 countries on either side of the Pacific Ocean, like the U.S., Mexico, Japan, and Australia.

The agreement, reached under Obama in October 2016, had yet to be ratified by Congress. Like many others, Trump believed the deal could undercut American workers, forced to compete with cheap labor overseas.

But TPP isn’t the only trade deal Trump didn't like. He has also stated his desire to renegotiate the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada — and if he can't strike a fair deal, he says he'll consider scrapping the pact. Trump believes NAFTA is unfair to the U.S. and sends jobs to Mexico. Others fear that without NAFTA, tariffs could surge and areas that depend on cross-border trade could fall into recession.

Iran Nuclear Deal

Days after Obama helped broker an accord designed to reduce Iran's nuclear stockpile and lengthen the country's "breakout time" — the period it would take for Iran to obtain a functioning nuclear bomb — Trump decried the deal as "a direct national security threat."

PHOTO: The reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, Oct. 26, 2010.Majid Asgaripour/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
The reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, Oct. 26, 2010.

In return for the easing of economic sanctions, Iran had agreed to dismantle some of its nuclear systems and allow international inspectors into its facilities. Trump, who as president claimed Iran "continued to fuel conflict, terror, and turmoil through the Middle East," threatened to "terminate" the deal. He hasn't — yet.

In January, Trump once again waved financial sanctions on Iran, keeping the deal intact — but he suggested the move represented a "last chance" to fix the deal's "terrible flaws" before he slaps sanctions back. He is proposing Congress come up with a fix to the deal, even though Congress had little do with reaching the deal in the first place, negotiated by Iran and six world powers.

Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called the president's ultimatum "desperate" and insisted the deal was "not renegotiable."

National Monuments

In December, over objections from several Native American groups, Trump drastically reduced the scale of several national monuments, including Bears Ears in Utah, designated by Obama just a year prior.

PHOTO: The sun sets over Valley of the Gods in Bears Ears National Monument seen from the Moki Dugway, June 11, 2017 north of Mexican Hat, Utah.Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images
The sun sets over Valley of the Gods in Bears Ears National Monument seen from the Moki Dugway, June 11, 2017 north of Mexican Hat, Utah.

The president billed the move as a victory for local communities, who he said should be allowed to decide how they want to use their land.

Several local tribes and conservationist organizations sued the administration, arguing that the Antiquities Act, passed by Congress, gives the president the right to create monuments, but not reduce or remove them.

Offshore Drilling

In early January, Trump moved to expand offshore drilling in U.S. coastal waters, effectively derailing Obama's five-year plan blocking Atlantic and Pacific drilling, finalized in 2016.

Under the Obama administration, the only offshore drilling leases offered were in the Gulf of Mexico and the Cook Inlet of Alaska. Trump's plan opened up more than a billion acres in the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic, starting in 2019.

PHOTO: Tug boats transport the Chevron Corp. Jack St. Malo semi-submersible drilling and production platform to the Gulf of Mexico from Kiewit Offshore Services in Ingleside, Texas, Nov. 15, 2013.Eddie Seal/Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE
Tug boats transport the Chevron Corp. Jack St. Malo semi-submersible drilling and production platform to the Gulf of Mexico from Kiewit Offshore Services in Ingleside, Texas, Nov. 15, 2013.

After an outcry from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who insisted the state's national resources must be protected, the waters off Florida's coast were yanked from the plan. Immediately, governors from other coastal states like North Carolina, New York, Oregon, and Washington piled on, demanding their states be granted waivers as well.

Consumer Protection

In December, the Trump administration quietly announce they would postpone a planned ban of three dangerous household solvents that the EPA says could be carcinogenic.

Under Obama, the agency proposed their plan to ban the chemicals, TCE, NMP, and methylene chloride, just a day before Trump took office. The Trump White House later reclassified the proposed rule as "long term," delaying adoption indefinitely.

DACA

On September 17, 2017 President Trump announced he was rescinding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era policy that granted legal status to “Dreamers,” childhood immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally and by no choice of their own.

Trump said the program would be phased by March, leaving the legal status in peril for 800,000 undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

PHOTO: Activists rally for the passage of a clean Dream Act, one without additional security or enforcement measures, outside the New York office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, Jan. 10, 2018, in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Activists rally for the passage of a "clean" Dream Act, one without additional security or enforcement measures, outside the New York office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, Jan. 10, 2018, in New York City.

The debate in Congress over providing protections for these individuals in exchange for Trump’s proposed border wall and other immigration measures has grown so intense it could threaten a government shutdown later this week.

ABC News' Justin Fishel and the ABC News Politics team contributed reporting throughout the year.

This story is part of a weeklong series examining the first year of the Trump administration.

News - Obama undone: In first year, Trump unravels predecessor's signature achievements

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  • John

    Praise God for President Trump and that Clinton is NOT and NEVER will be president. Mr Trump will go done as the most assaulted president in history by the press and most loved by millions as he ends Obama's terrible policies and Makes America Great Again. 7 years to go. Expect 4 more conservative justices and a 30 foot wall during that time as well as DACA deportations. This is really fun to watch as liberal heads explode.

  • Vishwas Patil

    People may call him unpredictable but I see a definite strategy behind his all policies. China almost tamed by mere threat of trade war. NK on knees. America long needed a brash President that the world will fear. Only strong America guarantees safety of the free world.

  • Ideology

    Obama brought dignity to the Presidency, Trump has totally unraveled it.

  • dan

    The only reason he is fighting so hard for American taxpayers to fund the wall when he FAILED to get Mexico to pay for it is because he knows in 2018 Dems will have the House. When that happens, Donald J Trump will be impeached and he knows it.

  • tet1953

    And the next president will do the same to him.

  • AG99

    I see little to be proud of in these "achievements": increasing healthcare insurance premiums, increasing air pollution, throwing away Cuba, giving the Far East to China, driving Iran's nuclear program back underground, opening federal lands near monuments to commercial exploitation, putting our shorelines at increased risk, reducing consumer protections, and waffling back and forth on the status of illegals.

    Yeah, what a great president. Our country is so much better for all that.

  • Jonny

    I agree with 95% of what he has done. All good for our country.

  • pINHEAD

    Since it was the White Right that voted President Twit into office, they now work together to eliminate anything that "N____" did when he was in office. They tried to derail him his entire Presidency. Now they're embolden by their racist leader.

  • BD70

    So the next president will have to redo what Trump undid. I hope they don't set up their drilling off the east coast. Or start tearing apart Bears Ears. Paris accord...we will be back. Onward to single payer health care.

  • linmarco

    One of these days this country is going to awaken and find it has been isolated from the rest of the world. Oh it will continue trading with us because capitalism accepts green company. But those elected will be persona non grata to countries that will have moved on with the advancing of time. This man is harking back to halcyon days of yesteryear when the US was a world leader. Many of these countries see us now as a world nuisance. One more thing. At one time our military was top notch bar none. It still is but other countries have put their acts together and won't be trampled on. I refer specifically to Russia, China, India, and even North Korea. These are times that call for leadership with intelligence and foresight. Maybe we have that with our leadership but I don't see it.

  • Allen Stimmel

    Obama undone: In first year, Trump unravels predecessor's signature achievements
    And that is EXACTLY WHY he was elected!
    The reason he is so despised is because he owes no one anything and he keeps his promises. Imagine that.

  • Joel Stuebs

    That's because, even though he had both Congress and Senate for two years he was only able to pass one thing that he didn't force through executive order, which are very easy to reverse clearly. Aca is it, and now that will soon be over. Sad to say trump tied that mark in less than a year... "a little less talk and a lot more action" should be his motto moving forward because i think he could have accomplished more if he could just learn to shut his little yapper!

  • Longrdahead

    Elections have consequences. President Obama said that many times. But what is overlooked now and will hurt this country later is that dismantling everything even when it benefits a political base is stupid. When trump's supporters in Appalachia, the southern states, the rust belt, coal country etc, finds out that the tax bill wont help them at all, that crucial components of the ACA protecting pre-existing conditions was pulled, that black lung patients now have no benefits, then the country will see the ignorance in doing away with so many of trump's predecessor's achievements. Sure, to maintain his base, he had to get rid of some things. That's political and understood. But de-regulating inspection standards that keep coal mines from caving in or lessening safety restrictions that prevent oil from spilling into our oceans and drinking water? At some point, even his hard-core followers must know the consequences. Lastly, opening up our national parks for oil drilling, prospecting and other industries goes against even past republican presidents. What ever happened to America the beautiful, love of country and all these patriotic slogans from republicans? You reduce these protected lands and it affects wildlife and the ecosystem. Soon those deer hunters won't have deer to hunt cause their numbers will dwindle. Same for elk, moose etc. Soon, we'll go to Yosemite Park and see oil fields instead of the beautiful lands once nurtured and protected by our Native American brothers and sisters. Yes, many are celebrating now but one day you'll understand that President did try to help this country for all Americans.

  • empirewacksback

    Obama should do State of the Union rebuttal.

  • Richard Cranium

    Maybe Obama should have had Congress pass laws instead of going around them. I have a phone and a pen...what you have is nothing from your pathetic 8 years in office.

  • Blue Wave

    Heck of a way to run a country. "I'm going to undo everything Obama did because I can!"

  • Joel Stuebs

    If trump can undue Obama's legacy in just one year it shows just how Little he did while in office lol

  • Joe

    Obama tried to ruin America but luckily all of his disastrous plans are getting over turned. Adios Obama crap and welcome back to America! MAGA

  • NuffAlready

    We've all had supervisors who came new to the job, constantly insulted and belittled their predecessor, and claimed to know and do better in ALL ways. These are braggadocios who possess no humility, nor have the ability to shut up when needed. Donald Trump is this supervisor. He is desperately clinging to please his base, by undoing everything his predecessor has done. He is only impressing a very small percentage. Everyone else rolls their eyes.

  • JBump

    Goals for 2018,

    • Do some big military parades
    • FBI changes name to TBI
    • Nix the whole election thing
    • Rework constitution
    • Wall around country
    • Replace free press with Fox/fake news

  • Retta's Vegas

    #PowerToThePolls
    USA - 2018 'Women's March', this week-end (Sunday) in Vegas, and don't believe what they say, what's done in Vegas does NOT stay in Vegas!
    World wide this march speaks truth to power, TrumPutin's days are numbered, November begins the Great Blue Wave, now all we need is #GodSpeedMueller!

  • Hugo Diedericks

    It is easy to break something down, far more difficult to build something up - he is riding the wave of economic prosperity that started 80 months ago, even if he claims this as his victory - same for the defeat of Isis. What has he truly accomplished? from scratch on his own - no wall? no infrastructure bill? a Tax plan only for the rich? no immigration reform? no middle east pace deal, no improved foreign relations? so other than one judge - he has really only improved his golf handicap - and he expects us to be grateful for allowing a minority of Americans to elect him as POTUS? I am sorry, history will judge him and those supporting him badly - John Kasich would have been a far better choice!

  • William Rose

    How many ways to hate Trump? Count 'em.

  • Verity Pendelton

    The good news is 500 years from now, Trump will join the ranks of the most despicable humans that ever existed, including Hitler, Stalin, Franco, Mussolini, Attilla the Hun, Henry VIII, Juan Peron, Baby Doc, Mao, and many many others. His legacy will be remember as the dark ages of American Democracy

  • Bill William

    Three more years of this, what will the country look like?

  • JuPMod

    Trump hates Obama so much that he will end anything Obama did even if it means hurting the people and the environment. He does not care. He wants to destroy anything of Obama.

  • Sal Monela

    Trump is doing exactly what he said he would do; be a dic*.