Move an embassy, drill baby drill, or repeal Obamacare? How the GOP candidates plan to spend their first day in office.
- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
My attention was struck by this tweet today from Newt Gingrich: "My first day in office, I will move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s chosen place, Jerusalem."
Putting aside the wisdom of that decision, is this symbolic gesture really the best use of the president’s first day in office during a time of recession and war? I doubt that would even be the first thing on Benjamin Netanyahu’s wish list for the new president.
Not to worry though, Gingrich has other plans for his first day — and he’s even taking suggestions on his website. In addition to the Jerusalem move, Gingrich will sign executive orders to "eliminate the thirty-nine White House "Czar" positions created during the current administration," reinstate the ""Mexico City Policy," to prohibit the funding of international NGOs that provide abortions (which is also what George W. Bush did on his first day) and "Restore conscience clause protections for Healthcare Workers."
These all seem like somewhat niche issues. But still, not a bad day’s work.
Here’s how the other candidates are planning to spend Jan. 21, 2013:
Rick Perry’s going to repeal Obama’s healthcare law on his first day, and he’s even picked out the sharpie he’s going to do it with.
Ron Paul says he’d start with foreign policy by "bringing the troops home so they can spend their money here instead of overseas.’
Jon Huntsman’s got a busy day planned for himself, with "three immediate steps" on energy policy including clarifying rules to allow offshore drilling and fracking, opening the U.S. fuel network to alternative energy, and eliminating "every subsidy for energy companies."
But no candidate in the race has as ambitious a plan to hit the ground running as Mitt Romney, who has five bills and five executive orders planned for day one, including eliminating energy regulations, implementing the free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, labeling China a currency manipulator, and giving states waivers to opt out of Obamacare.
In case you don’t remember, on Obama’s first day, he froze White House salaries, unveiled new ethics rules, appointed George Mitchell as Mideast peace negotiator, and issued an executive order closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. (The last two didn’t work out so well.)