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Project 2025: The Latest Plot Against America

by Anne Nelson

Mar 13, 2024 | Election 2024

On the left, Kevin Roberts, President of the Heritage Foundation and former President of Wyoming Catholic College, whose foreward for Project 2025 includes a full-bore attack on LGBTQ and reproductive rights. And on the right, Charles Koch, 14th richest man in the world, co-originator of the Koch network, and widely seen as the driving force behind climate denial and the attacks on public schools and public health.
PHOTO CREDIT: Gage Skidmore / Fortune Brainstorm Tech 

“Project 2025” has been winning an increasing amount of attention in its own right, but it’s actually the opening salvo of “The 2025 Presidential Transition Project.” This comprehensive playbook was produced under the auspices of the Heritage Foundation and supported by over 100 partner organizations. Officially titled “Mandate for Leadership: The Conservative Promise,” its perverse genius lies in its sheer length—900 pages, much of it mind-numbing bureaucratic prose.

But ignore it at your peril. The massive tome is the latest iteration of a four-decade-long process of crafting right-wing policies to dismantle the federal government, deregulate industry and eliminate consumer protections and public health measures, while installing a regime controlled by fossil fuel interests and the Religious Right. Not coincidentally, the members of its advisory board have been making headlines attacking American institutions at a grassroots level, in preparation for the big takeover—ranging from Moms4Liberty’s assaults on local public schools, to the Koch-founded Institute on Energy Research’s war on climate initiatives.

Project 2025 lays out specifics for hundreds of policy objectives affecting every area of public life. Many of them affect three primary areas: first, the dismantling of environmental regulations, clean energy measures, and climate policy; second, a rollback of civil and political rights for women and LGBTQ populations and the elimination of public health measures; and third, a massive purge of career civil servants and the concentration of power in the Executive branch in the White House, to consolidate an entrenched authoritarian regime. The following inventory of Project 2025 prescriptions is far from comprehensive, rather it is an attempt to highlight a few of the more alarming features.

Here are ten things you need to know about Project 2025:

1. It’s not just about Trump. Project 2025 specifically states that it does not depend on a Trump victory in November; it’s explicitly directed at “the next conservative” or “the next GOP” occupant of the White House. Since its donors and partner organizations have achieved effective control of the Republican Party through purging moderates and promoting their supporters, it’s unlikely that any Republican candidate can successfully run without their support.

Translation: Cumulatively, these organizations control massive voting blocs, concentrated among evangelical Christians, and coordinate extensive and carefully-orchestrated disinformation media that spreads, most concerningly, across battleground states.

2. It’s not new. Project 2025 builds on a longstanding series of “Mandates for Leadership,” going back to the Reagan Administration in 1981. The authors claim that Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump both implemented over half of their previous recommendations. Thanks to their inroads in federal court appointments during the Trump Administration, they are now in the position to implement far more.

Translation: The Project 2025 partner organizations have been putting the squeeze on every Republican president since Reagan, and have often been disappointed. They met with unprecedented success with Donald Trump, and have no intention of giving up their advantage.

This project was bought and paid for with funding from the Koch Network and Leonard Leo. Although the names of the over 100 supporting organizations are trimmed with terms such as “freedom,” “public,” and “independent,” over a third of them receive funding from the Koch Network, the driving force in advancing climate denial in the US.

(According to a review of IRS filings by Ralph Wilson of the Corporate Genome Project, a partial list of Koch Network beneficiaries include the Alabama Policy Institute, Alliance Defending Freedom, American Commitment, American Council of Trustees and Alumni, American Juris Link, American Legislative Council [ALEC], Citizens Against Government Waste, Claremont Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Concerned Women for America, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Family Policy Alliance, Foundation for Government Accountability, Heartland Institute, Heritage Foundation, Hillsdale College, Independent Women’s Forum, Institute for Energy Research, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, James Madison Institute, Leadership Institute, Liberty University, Mackinac Center, Mississippi Center for Public Policy, National Association of Scholars, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Pacific Research Institute, Patrick Henry College, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, Tea Party Patriots, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.)

Some two-thirds of the groups are funded by Leonard Leo philanthropies, powered by a $1.6 billion war chest from Chicago billionaire Barre Seid. Leo, a leading figure of the Catholic right, has led the initiative to install conservative judges in the US federal courts and played a pivotal role in overturning Roe. Recipients of Leo’s funding include Leo’s own Marble Freedom Trust (Leonard Leo, chairman); the Teneo Network (Leonard Leo, chairman) and the 85 Fund (a Leo funding hub).

The Koch Network and Leo funding regimes overlap in many cases, including through Donors Trust, a massive dark money donor-advised fund. Not coincidentally, Leo, Donors Trust CEO Lawson Bader, and the directors of a large percentage of the supporting organization are members of the Council for National Policy, the secretive umbrella organization that coordinates the activities of right-wing donors, media, and front organizations. William Walton, President of the CNP from 2020-2022, is the lead author on the chapter on the Treasuryanslation: The best autocracy money can buy.

3. According to Project 2025’s website, the recommendations constitute the first of “four pillars” of a 180-day plan.

The implementation of the first step, or “policy agenda,” corresponds to Trump’s promise to be “dictator for a day” and issue a sweeping round of executive orders. This would include the reimposition of Schedule F, removing civil service protection from tens of thousands of federal employees and replacing them with political allies.

The second pillar, currently underway, is the compilation of a “Personnel Database” to “cast a net across the country to identify conservatives from all walks of life to serve in the next conservative administration”— known as “Linked-In for the Right.”

The third pillar is a “Presidential Administration Academy,” also currently underway, which offers online and in-person certificate programs for recruits to “start implementing the President’s agenda from Day One.”

The fourth pillar, the “180-Day Playbook,” involves “a concrete, comprehensive action plan for each federal agency.” This would be implemented by former members of the Trump Administration (many of whom are listed as authors of chapters concerning their agencies), along with the newly recruited “army” of militants.

Translation: This is not a drill: the MAGA Plan is already underway.

Principal Policy Initiatives: Some Specifics

4. Climate, Environment, and Energy: Recommendations regarding energy, climate and the environment are dispersed among a number of chapters. The authors of these chapters are telling. The lead author for the chapter concerning the Department of Energy is Bernard McNamee, a former member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under the Trump administration, an advisor to Ted Cruz, and a member of the Federalist Society. The lead author for the chapter on the Environmental Protection Agency served in the agency under Scott Pruitt, the former energy industry lobbyist who served as EPA Administrator under Trump and resigned under a cloud of ethics scandals and charges of gross mismanagement.

Plan 2025’s recommendations on climate and energy, which would withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, and expand fossil fuel drilling and consumption, also include:

“Rollbacks. A new Administration must immediately roll back Biden’s order, reinstate the Trump-era Energy Dominance Agenda, rescind [Department of the Interior] Secretarial Order 3398 [on protecting public health and restoring science to tackle the climate crisis] and review all regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and similar agency actions made in compliance with that order.” (p. 521)

“End the focus on climate change and green subsidies….Eliminate energy efficiency standards for appliances…. [which currently include] air conditioners, furnaces, water heaters, stoves, clothes washers and dryers, refrigerators, dishwashers, light bulbs, and shower heads.” (p. 378)

“’The Clean Energy Corps is charged with investing more than $62 billion to deliver a more equitable clean energy future for the American people.’….New Policies: Eliminate the Clean Energy Corps by revoking funding and eliminating all positions and personnel hired under the program.” (p. 386)

“The next Administration should eliminate the Climate Hub Office and withdraw from climate change agreements that are inimical to the prosperity of the United States….[and] withdraw the U.S. from the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.” (p. 709)

“USAID should cease its war on fossil fuels in the developing world and support the responsible management of oil and gas reserves as the quickest way to end wrenching poverty and the need for open-ended foreign aid. The next conservative Administration should rescind all climate policies from its foreign aid programs (especially USAID’s Climate Strategy 2022-2030), shut down the agency’s offices, programs, and directives designed to advance the Paris Climate Agreement, and narrowly limit funding to traditional climate mitigation efforts.” (p. 257)

“With the federal government facing mounting debt, the best course of action would be to remove federal subsidies for transit spending.” (p. 636)

Translation: The fossil fuel industries intend to go for broke, extracting every last penny of profit from their wanton destruction of the planet—and we’ll foot the bill.

Protections for wildlife are also targeted:

“Rescind the Biden rules and reinstate the Trump rules regarding 1. BLM [Bureau of Land Management] waste prevention; 2. The Endangered Species Act rules defining Critical Habitat and Critical Habitat Exclusions; 3. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act; and 4. CEQ [White House Council on Environmental Quality] reforms to NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act].”(p. 524)

“Reinstate President Trump’s plan for opening most of the National Petroleum Reserve of Alaska to leasing and development.” (p. 524)

Translation: So much for the birds, the bees, and the endangered species. That could eventually include us.

5. Public Health. The recommendations concerning health are dispersed among the introduction and various chapters. Together, they argue for an abandonment of the government’s role in promoting public health for American children and adults. The author of the foreword is Heritage President Kevin Roberts and the chapter on the Department of Health and Human Services is Roger Severino, a former Trump appointee who previously served as the director of the DeVos Center at the Heritage Foundation. His wife, CNP member Carrie Severino, who clerked for Clarence Thomas, currently heads the Judicial Crisis Network, which coordinates efforts with Leonard Leo on federal court appointments.

Roberts’ foreword launches a full-bore assault on LGBTQ and reproductive rights, in an Orwellian exercise seeking to erase the very vocabulary of social progress from the national discourse.

“The next conservative President must make the institutions of American civil society hard targets for woke culture warriors. This starts with deleting the terms sexual orientation and gender identity (‘SOGI’), diversity, equity, and inclusion (‘DEI’), gender, gender equality, gender awareness, gender-sensitive, abortion, reproductive health, reproductive rights, and any other term used to deprive Americans of their First Amendment rights out of every federal rule, agency regulation, contract, grant, regulation, and piece of legislation that exists.” (p. 4-5)

Translation: Forget the goal of “health” if it involves female organs.

Not surprisingly, Severino’s first stated goal is to “protect the fundamental right to life.” “Goal #4: Preparing for the Next Health Emergency” codifies COVID disinformation (such as the claim of “excess deaths” due to lockdowns, etc.), and seeks to disable the Centers for Disease Control’s ability to advise the public on measures for disease control.

“The COVID-10 pandemic demonstrated how catastrophic a micromanaging, misinformed, centralized, and politicized federal government can be. Basic human rights, medical choice, and the doctor-patient relationship were trampled without scientific justification and for extended periods of time. Excess deaths, not due to COVID-19, skyrocketed because of forced lockdowns, isolation, vaccine-related mass firings, and colossal disruptions to the economy and daily rhythms of life…Unaccountable bureaucrats like Anthony Fauci should never again have such broad, unchecked power to issue health “guidelines” that will certainly be the basis for federal and state mandates.” (p. 451-452)

Translation: “Excess deaths, not due to COVID-19, skyrocketed” never happened. But why quibble over details.

The chapter even seeks to prohibit the CDC from advising the vaccination of schoolchildren. (As of March 3, outbreaks of measles, a potentially deadly disease easily avoided through vaccination, have been reported in 17 states).

“By statute or regulation, CDC guidance must be prohibited from taking on a prescriptive character. For example, never again should CDC officials be allowed to say in their official capacity that school children ‘should be’ masked or vaccinated (through a schedule or otherwise) or prohibited from learning in a school building.” (p. 454)

Translation: The Centers for Disease Control should be prohibited from attempting to control disease. Thanks to anti-vaxxing campaigns, we now confront rampant outbreaks of measles, with a statistical likelihood of 1-2 preventable deaths per 1000 children. Is polio far behind?

6. Plan 2025’s “Family Agenda” also has profound implications for the health and safety of children, which would evidently constrain child protective services, foster homes, and adoption for children at risk:

“The Secretary should proudly state that men and women are biological realities that are crucial to the advancement of life sciences and medical care and that married men and women are the ideal natural family structure because all children have a right to be raised by the men and women who conceived them.” (p. 489)

“Promoting Life and Family. In dealing with sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, the OASH (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health) should focus on root-cause analysis with a focus on strengthening marriage and sexual risk avoidance.” (p. 490)

Translation: Limiting parenting to “the men and women who conceived them” would eliminate adoption and foster homes for abused children, to say nothing of “unnatural family structures.” Also, marriage has traditionally proven to be an unreliable cure for syphilis.

The chapter on the Department of Labor includes one of various measures designed to roll back the rights of LGBTQ populations:

“Rescind regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, and sex characteristics.” (p. 584)

Translation: Allow LGBTQ individuals to be fired without cause. And what are “sex characteristics”?

Other chapters seek to eliminate Department of Agriculture’s role in promoting nutrition and food safety inspection, and additional measures to promote occupational safety.

The next Administration should “promote legislation that would allow state-inspected meat to be sold in interstate commerce. These barriers to the sale of meat and poultry from USDA-approved state-inspected facilities should be removed.” (p. 305)

Translation: Let’s let Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ Arkansas hog and poultry inspectors decide on food safety for the rest of us.

“Eliminate or Reform the Dietary Guidelines. …. Nutrition and dietary choices are best left to individuals to address their personal needs…. The next Administration should: Work with lawmakers to repeal the Dietary Guidelines. (p. 309)

Translation: Because with 40 percent of Americans obese and 70 percent overweight, we’re obviously getting adequate nutritional guidance—as reflected by our declining life expectancy (trailing Macao, the Maldives, and Kosovo).

“Congress should: …Repeal the Dodd-Frank mandated disclosures relating to conflict minerals, mine safety, resource extraction, and CEO pay ratios.” (p. 832)

Translation: Because occupational safety could affect CEO pay ratios?

7. Plan 2025 calls for the concentration of powers in the White House. The chapter on the “White House Office” was written by Rick Dearborn, formerly Trump’s Deputy Chief of Staff. It anticipates legal challenges to the wholesale withdrawal of regulatory measures, and calls for preemptive legal action.

“To offer guidance, the White House Counsel must get up to speed as quickly as possible on all significant ongoing legal challenges across the executive branch that might affect the new Administration’s policy agenda and must be prepared at the outset of the administration to present recommendations to the president including recommendations for reconsidering or reversing positions of the previous Administration in any significant litigation.”(p. 28)

The chapter on the Department of Justice also calls for expansion of presidential powers. It was written by Gene Hamilton, who formerly served in Trump’s DOJ. He is the general counsel of the America First Legal Foundation, co-founded with former White House advisor Stephen Miller. Hamilton calls for the conversion of the FBI into a political instrument of the President:

“The next conservative Administration should direct the Attorney General to remove the FBI from the Deputy Attorney General’s direct supervision within the department’s organizational chart and instead place it under the general supervision of the Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division, as applicable….Such a structure would…place the FBI under a politically accountable leader with fewer things to manage than the Deputy Attorney General or the Attorney General have.”  (p. 549-50)

Translation: There will be lawsuits, but with an army of White House lawyers and the FBI acting as a White House security force, these can be dealt with.

8. In a break from precedent, the chapter on the State Department calls for a preemptive mass disruption of the diplomatic corps, and the immediate installation of loyalists in place of career diplomats, without regard for security clearances and other protocols—a recipe for chaos. The chapter also calls for a “freeze” on international treaties, disbursements, etc.

“Reboot Ambassadors Worldwide. All ambassadors are required to submit letters of resignation at the start of a new Administration. Previous Republican Administrations have accepted the resignations of only the political ambassador and allowed the foreign service ambassadors to retain their posts, sometimes for months or years into a new Administration. The next Administration must go further. It should both accept the resignation of all political ambassadors and quickly review and reassess all career ambassadors. This review should commence well before the new Administration’s first day. Ambassadors in countries where U.S. policy or posture would substantially change under the new Administration, as well as who have evinced hostility toward the incoming Administration or its agenda, should be recalled immediately. The priority should be to put in place new ambassadors who support the President’s agenda among political appointees, foreign service officers, and civil service personnel, with no predetermined percentage among these categories.” (p. 174)

Translation: Career foreign service officers can join their fellow civil servants in the bread line, and cronies can take their place. What could possibly go wrong?

“Before inauguration, the President-elect’s department transition team should assess every aspect of State Department negotiations and funding commitments. Upon inauguration, the Secretary of State should order an immediate freeze on all efforts to implement unratified treaties and international agreements, allocation of resources, foreign assistance disbursements, domestic and international contracts and payments, hiring and recruiting decisions, etc., pending a political appointee-driven review to ensure that such efforts comport with the new Administration’s policies.” (p.174)

Translation: Continuity in foreign policy be damned. Our allies won’t mind because we won’t have any.

Plan 2025 contains relatively little material on foreign policy, but what it does include is concerning. “Ending economic engagement” with China would collapse the economy (as opposed to the current policy of gradually diversifying supply chains); likewise, it’s hard to imagine that including Russia in the “Europe, Eurasia, and Russia region” will contribute usefully to the “global security architecture” under the current international situation.

“Economic engagement with China should be ended, not rethought.” (p. 13)

Translation: “Ending” trade with China would collapse the global economy. But whatever.

“American foreign policy has long benefited from cooperation with the countries of Europe (generally, the EU), and any conservative Administration should build on this resource. Yet the transatlantic relationship is complex, with security, trade, and political dimensions. First, the Europe, Eurasia, and Russia region is made up of relatively wealthy and technologically advanced societies that should be expected to bear a fair share of both security needs and global security architecture. (p. 187)

Translation: Inviting the “Russia region” to “bear a fair share” of “global security architecture” may be a tell. Goodbye NATO.

9. The chapter on the Department of Homeland Security was written by CNP member Ken Cuccinelli, who used his position in the department under the Trump administration to restrict immigrant rights. It calls for limiting cybersecurity and anti-disinformation efforts, especially “closer to an election.” It also mislabels the findings of the Mueller Report regarding Russian election interference as a “Clinton campaign ‘dirty trick.’”

“Of the utmost urgency is immediately ending CISA’s (Cybersecurity and infrastructure Security Agency) counter-mis/disinformation efforts. The federal government cannot be the arbiter of truth. CISA began this work because of alleged Russian misinformation in the 2016 election, which in fact turned out to be a Clinton campaign ‘dirty trick.’…. the entirety of the CISA Cybersecurity Advisory Committee should be dismissed on Day One….CISA should not be significantly involved closer to an election.” (p. 155)

The chapter on the Department of Justice calls for an end to FBI measures to combat disinformation as well—leaving the door open for ongoing disinformation efforts from Russia, China, and Iran, as documented in the Mueller Report.

“Prohibit the FBI from engaging, in general, in activities related to combating the spread of so-called misinformation and disinformation by Americans who are not tied to any plausible criminal activity.” (p. 550)

Translation: Welcome to the Kremlin News Network.

10. How much of Plan 2025 is feasible? It’s difficult to imagine a president coming into office and “ending economic engagement” with China, or cancelling expenditures allocated by Congress. But the Trump Administration succeeded in reversing a large number of environmental regulations during Scott Pruitt’s tenure at the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as other protective measures that have been restored by the Biden Administration. The Trump Administration took measures against the Department of Agriculture’s research divisions on climate science, food assistance, and tax policy by moving them to Kansas City, losing half of the staff, and these divisions are still recovering.

These measures met resistance from the courts and Congressional Democrats. But thanks to the Trump administration, the current Mandate for Leadership would be better positioned than its predecessors. Trump’s court appointments could remove legal guardrails to more radical measures, and a Republican Congress would eliminate many of the remaining obstacles. Republicans currently control 27 statehouses, compared to the Democrats’ 21, and have used their position to leverage bills across state lines limiting reproductive rights and advancing voter suppression. As many of these laws make their way through the appeals process, their ultimate destination will be a Supreme Court that was tilted by Trump, Leo, and their allies.

Voters should regard Project 2025 as a full-throated statement of intent. If there’s anything the past eight years have taught us, it should be that the unimaginable is all too often achievable.

Translation: Project 2025—it’s not a threat, it’s a promise.


Anne Nelson is the author of Shadow Network: Money, Media, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right. Nelson is the recipient of the Livingston Award for journalism and a Guggenheim Fellowship for historical research.


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  1. Scary and will ruin the USA as we know it!!!

  2. I feel sorry for what is happening to the land of the free home of the brave

  3. Can only imagine their plan for dismantling hard won Labor laws and protections, including pensions and Social Security. Non-Union would be the law of the land.

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