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Donald Trump never bought into Project 2025

Project 2025 is a largely incoherent hodgepodge of establishment conservative priorities. Credit: Getty

July 6, 2024 - 1:00pm

Donald Trump took to Truth Social yesterday to issue an apparent repudiation of Project 2025. The 900-page policy document was prepared by Right-wing think tank The Heritage Foundation and a coalition of its conservative allies including John McEntee, a close Trump advisor and former White House personnel director. The rebuke came after a week that saw both liberal critics and pro-MAGA supporters of the former president talk up Project 2025 as a blueprint for the next Trump term.

Outlets such as CNN and MSNBC pointed to its provisions for clearing the federal bureaucracy of career civil servants and replacing them with political appointees (known as “Schedule F”) as evidence of an impending conservative power grab; the chorus was joined by the Biden campaign and Hillary Clinton, who warned of the “MAGA movement’s plan to consolidate power 
 and exert more control over everyday Americans’ lives”. Meanwhile, the president of Heritage, Kevin Roberts, drew criticism for making provocative remarks in an interview on Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast, in which he spoke of a “second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the Left allows it to be”.

However, Trump’s strongly-worded disavowal suggests that both liberal fears and conservative excitement may have been overstated. (Heritage has had to walk back some of its rhetoric about the supposed inevitability of its designs.) While Project 2025 certainly seems like it was written in large part to aid a reinstated President Trump in seeking retribution against his foes, much of the rest of the document reads like a manifesto for the kind of ossified small-government conservatism that Heritage has long embodied — and with which Trump has signalled his discomfort multiple times.

For instance, the plan envisions passing another sweeping round of tax cuts, in the vein of the Paul Ryan-designed 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. It also seeks to gut key parts of the federal bureaucracy, including the Department of Homeland Security (which it would consolidate with other agencies) and components of the Department of Commerce. A Republican administration that seeks to pay down the national debt, defend the borders, or enact industrial policy would likely be hamstrung by these radical moves.

Project 2025 is also conflicted on trade, a signature Trump issue, with input coming from both the protectionist Peter Navarro and the free-trader Kent Lassman, who disagree on the merits of tariffs. One might ask, then: how serious can it be as a representation of MAGA-ism if it can’t even make up its mind about something on which Trump himself has been so adamant?

Beyond culture war bromides, Project 2025 is a largely incoherent hodgepodge of establishment conservative priorities, one that Heritage and its partners evidently wish to transpose onto a second Trump term. But there is little serious regard for the former president’s authentically populist instincts on many policy questions. In any event, there is something almost oxymoronic about a “Trump blueprint”, as if a second Trump term could be any more constrained by plans or programmes than the first.

Yet perhaps even more egregious than its clashes with Trump’s stances has been the Heritage Foundation’s attempt at getting ahead of the prospective Republican nominee in shaping the media narrative, with Roberts’s “second American Revolution” remark an especially pretentious and over-the-top example. Roberts should remember that if there is one maxim that has held true across Trump’s career as businessman, entertainer, and politician, it is that no one gets to steal the show.


Michael Cuenco is a writer on policy and politics. He is Associate Editor at American Affairs.
1TrueCuencoism

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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
19 days ago

The bureaucracy is a HUGE problem – in the U.S., Britain and other western democracies. First off, they are too big. You can disband entire depts and cut 20% of others, and no one would notice. The biggest job growth in Canada since the pandemic has been govt workers. This is a problem.

Secondly, they are infected with ideologically motivated leftists who actively block conservative policies. That 80% of Washington, DC are Democrat voters is a problem. I don’t know anything about Project 2025, but serious change starts with the bureaucracy.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
19 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Bring the chain saw like Milei 


Bret Larson
Bret Larson
18 days ago

Dynamite sound better then a chainsaw.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

What does the claim that 80 percent of D.C.’s population is Democratic have to do with the employees of the federal government? None of these workers live in D.C.—it’s too expensive.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
19 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Fair question. Although the federal govt is the largest employer in DC, most people living there are professionals who do not directly work for the feds.

Obadiah B Long
Obadiah B Long
18 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

But their communities are 85% Democrat too. Decentralize the Federal government and de-unionize it!

Arthur King
Arthur King
19 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

And don’t forget activist judges in Canada. The producers of wealth, ie the private sector are slaves to the Government Class. Pollievre is going to see big government flex in 2025. He will of course be called a tyrant for helping free Canadians from these parasitic people.

Tony Price
Tony Price
19 days ago

So … DT says that he knows ‘nothing’ about Project25, and at the same time says that he disagrees with it; he can’t have both so yet another lie from the compulsive liar! He knows that it isn’t popular so is trying to distance himself, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t implement it should he get his hands on the levers of power again, especially now that the SC has unshackled him further from the bounds of the law.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
19 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

What do you mean when you say Project 2025 is unpopular? I doubt 95% of voters have even heard of it, let alone have any knowledge of its details.

Rob N
Rob N
18 days ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Your deduction is illogical.

Talia Perkins
Talia Perkins
19 days ago

And he has also endorsed many of Project 2025’s goals in detail. Current denials by him are unpersuasive.

Stu N
Stu N
17 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

Shush, the cis people are talking…

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
17 days ago
Reply to  Talia Perkins

Please provide examples and sources?

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
18 days ago

It’s pretty simple. Trump’s team were behind “Schedule F”, the plan to do away with much of the administrative state. Project 2025 is the Heritage Foundation’s plan that takes advantage of “Schedule F” and implements their policy wish list. Trump is just emphasizing Project 2025 is not his.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
18 days ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Agreed. It’s just another weirdness of these activist types, whether Heritage Foundation or Just Stop Oil. Eventually they just blurt out what they’ve been dying to tell everyone, no matter how unwelcome the thought or how awkward the timing. Like a drunken teenager.

0 01
0 01
18 days ago

Don’t take anything Trump ever says it face value, either doesn’t mean it and just saying it for effect, He’s prone to Sudden change on a whim.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
17 days ago
Reply to  0 01

Hmm … really? His presidency was excellent for the US economy, the borders were secure, and there was peace internationally. His policies were stable and well-thought out. No sudden changes that I could see.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
18 days ago

The Heritage Foundation may do good work, I don’t know. However, with all due respect, DJT will decide what to do during his presidency should he win it, not them.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
18 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

Also known as the ‘Fuhrerprinzip’ .

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
18 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Also known as ‘democracy’, in that you elect someone to office to study the data and arrive at decisions. No one ‘elected’ the Heritage Foundation.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
17 days ago
Reply to  Samuel Ross

OK, I admit that was a misguided comment from my side.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
17 days ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Thanks for that, and I very much appreciate your input and candor.

John Pade
John Pade
18 days ago

There’s certainly room to re-arrange government agencies. The education department, over a run of 40 years, has proven itself useless: unable to move the dial on educational attainment even one point. It can’t even get half of its employees to report to work. The energy department also has had 40 years to find a mission and hasn’t. Homeland Security has been a straw in the wind. If the administration in power wants to protect America, it does. If it wants to endanger America, well, it can do that too. Many employees in the State Department were educated in college departments hostile to America. The country would be better off without them and the government better off not taking in any more of their kind.
Trump is merely proving that Clinton’s prophesy that the days of big government are over.
They have only just begun.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
18 days ago

In the US you could (and should) get rid of whole departments, like Education, and be palpably better off. You’d have more money, and your kids would actually get an education.

As for Hillary Clinton’s laughable warning that Trump would consolidate power to have more control over American lives, the exact opposite is true. But, as with all things Clinton, every projection is a confession.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
18 days ago

I wish we had someone with his guts and drive running the shoddy show here in the UK