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Donald Trump Has Plans To Hit The Ground Running


President-elect Donald Trump puts his hand on the wheel of history today. And he's signaling a sharp turn in the direction of the federal government. Trump could sign his first executive orders on the very day he takes the oath of office. Trump has promised to roll back regulations, renegotiate trade deals and repeal his predecessor's signature health care law.

For more on all this, NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now from the White House. Good morning, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: Kind of an interesting moment to be sitting there where you are in the White House as we all anticipate this change.

HORSLEY: This is usually such a beehive of activity. But the White House is kind of in a state of suspended animation this morning as we wait for this passing of the baton. There's a corridor outside the Oval Office that is usually hung with oversized photographs of the president and first family. Those pictures have all been taken down, but the empty frames are still hanging there just waiting for a new president and a new chapter in American history.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence told reporters yesterday Donald Trump is eager to get started and to bring a businessman's sensibility to the White House.


MIKE PENCE: We are all ready to go to work. In fact, we can't wait to get to work.

HORSLEY: Aides say Trump is ready to uncap his presidential pen and start signing orders as early as this afternoon. But there are also ceremonial celebrations - the inaugural parade, fancy balls, a big church service tomorrow. Trump says his first full workday could be next week.


DONALD TRUMP: We'll be doing some pretty good signings on Monday, on Tuesday, on Wednesday, on Thursday, on Friday and then also the next week.

HORSLEY: Trump plans to nominate a new Supreme Court justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia within a couple of weeks. He'll direct the military to develop plans for battling the Islamic State and cyberattacks. And along with Congress, he'll start the process of building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. Other top priorities include replacing Obamacare, rolling back energy regulations and reshaping trade.


TRUMP: We will negotiate fair, bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back onto American shores.

HORSLEY: Throughout the campaign and in this videotape message from November, Trump was sharply critical of U.S. trade deals. He's promised to slap import tariffs on U.S. companies that move jobs overseas but still want to sell their products domestically. Congressional Republicans have shown little interest in higher tariffs.

But Simon Johnson of the pro-trade Peterson Institute for International Economics says the new president could sidestep lawmakers and make good on his threat with unilateral sanctions if he wants to.

SIMON JOHNSON: The president has a lot of power in this country. And it looks like President Trump wants to use some of that power.

HORSLEY: Johnson cautions that could start a trade war that would hurt American exporters and raise prices for U.S. consumers. But he acknowledges the tough tariff talk could also be just a scare tactic. Trump's pick for commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, took a nuanced position at his Senate confirmation hearing this week.


WILBUR ROSS: I'm pro-trade, but I'm pro-sensible trade, not pro-trade that is to the disadvantage of the American worker.

HORSLEY: Trump has also promised to boost America's fossil fuel production. The U.S. is already the world's top natural gas producer and the third-largest producer of crude oil. But Trump says output would be even higher were it not for regulatory roadblocks imposed by the Obama administration.


TRUMP: I will cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal, creating many millions of high-paying jobs.

HORSLEY: Jack Gerard, who heads the American Petroleum Institute, says the new president will have the power to reverse many Obama-era restrictions on energy production. Gerard also expects Trump to green-light some controversial oil pipelines.

JACK GERARD: Things like Keystone XL Pipeline, Dakota Access Pipeline. We expect he'll take some early action on a variety of those fronts.

HORSLEY: Finally, Trump's team says their first order of business will be repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. That was a popular applause line for Trump throughout the campaign. But the incoming administration has also promised to move carefully to avoid further disruption in the already fragile insurance market.


TOM PRICE: Nobody's interested in pulling the rug out from under anybody.

HORSLEY: This is Trump's nominee for health secretary, Tom Price.


PRICE: We believe that it's absolutely imperative that individuals that have health coverage be able to keep health coverage.

MARTIN: OK, so, Scott, that was a recap of the people Trump has tapped to be in his Cabinet and what his first weeks and months in office might look like. But let's take a step back. Can you just get us back in the present moment and walk us through what the next few hours might look like?

HORSLEY: Well, Donald Trump and Melania have been staying just across the street from the White House. And they will begin their morning with a church service at St. John's Church. It's sometimes called the president's church. It's an easy walk just across Lafayette Park from the White House. And then they'll make their way over here to the White House itself for a sit-down with President Obama and Michelle Obama.

It's billed by the White House as a tea, although I think coffee will also be available...

MARTIN: They can choose, yeah.

HORSLEY: ...On the South Portico of the White House. Then the incoming and outgoing presidents and first ladies will motorcade together to the Capitol. It's a ritual that is rich in symbolism of the peaceful transfer of power. Of course then there will be the swearing-in ceremony before a crowd on the National Mall. And then as - by then, President Trump and the first lady go to a luncheon and the inaugural parade.

The Obamas will slip off to Andrews Air Force Base and head west to California for a sunny vacation in Palm Springs.

MARTIN: NPR's Scott Horsley at the White House. Thanks so much, Scott.

HORSLEY: My pleasure, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.