If I were the autocrat of the US with unlimited power, I’d immediately reduce the size of the military by 90%, withdraw nearly all forces from overseas bases, immediately end all wars and overseas adventures, and repurpose the dissolved military (assuming they accepted the jobs) into a corps for building nationwide subsidized high-speed rail and other mass transit (bike lanes, streetcars, the like). Within 10 years, I’d ban all private cars in all major cities and in most medium-size and small cities.
At the same time (and this would make the so-called progressives go utterly mad) I’d spend five years deporting all illegal immigrants with really invasive roundups, etc., that mainly punished employers (why they are here), but I’d also immediately grant citizenship to any green card holders, anyone on student visas, anyone here on a tourist visa (if they wanted it), anyone here on H-1B, etc. I’d next invite all these illegal immigrants to apply through the correct channels and then fairly consider their cases over the next few years. I expect most would be economic migrants, so I’d guess most would be rejected.
This would reduce the population a good bit — say 12 million people. It would also lower housing costs, especially for those on the low end. Not that it’d matter for long, because speaking of housing, I’d seize nearly all housing in the US and start a massive building program of public housing, similar to the Singapore model blended with the German model, and actually have somewhat fair housing in this country.
Other than what’s being actively used for farmland for crops that people can eat, I’d forcibly move everyone out of the Midwest and turn into the biggest damn wilderness and wildlife preserve on the planet — let it revert to its natural state and reintroduce native animals. Ok, I’m an autocrat, who am I kidding? I am going to make some damn sabertooth tigers to run around in there, too. Hell yeah.
I’d establish Medicare for All immediately, dissolve all private health insurance companies nearly immediately (with compensation and a transition period for the workers affected), and I’d establish a UBI of some sort while increasing SSI by 40% and any disabled insurance and aid by 50%+.
Then, I’d increase the size of the space program 10x and immediately establish a real space station, start experimenting with orbital biospheres (I expect most if not all to fail utterly but the science is what matters), and have a permanent, small presence on Mars (colonizing Mars is moronic, so it should not be done).
I’d also rush work on the safe (pebble-bed, etc.) nuclear reactors, solar, wind, and transition the US to renewable energy within 20 years.
All universities would be free, private monstrosities like Harvard would be abolished and their assets seized, and the funds used to sponsor real educations for everyone else. State universities would see their funding at least doubled.
Not lastly, but all I feel like writing now, research in both science and humanities would be increased by a factor of 10, and I expect this would pay off in less than 20 years.
So why not make me your autocrat? All I want is a really cool jet. And a sabertooth tiger.