Americans seem to have accepted the practice of evaluating our presidents based on their accomplishments in the first 100 days of their term in office. 100 days seems rather arbitrary to me. Why not 90 days or six months? But, I’ll play along.
Saturday was President Trump’s 100th day in office, so below please find my analysis, which, due to time and space, I have limited to the key issues. What have been his successes and failures? To what extent has he fulfilled his campaign promises? I have tried to summarize his performance objectively, although I’m sure many of you will disagree with me.
- Supreme Court Vacancy – In my opinion, beyond a doubt, his greatest success was securing Senate approval of Neil Gorsuch as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Since Justice Scalia’s untimely death the court had been functioning with only eight justices raising the specter of 4-4 decisions. Gorsuch has impeccable credentials, and I believe he will be a superb justice. Moreover, I believe he will generally support a conservative agenda, and, best of all, he should be on the court for many years.
- Economy/Jobs – He has taken several actions designed to boost the economy and job market. (a) He has proposed deep and radical tax cuts. Critics have denigrated his plan as favoring the rich, citing the elimination of the estate tax and the reduction of the highest bracket to 35%. Those do favor the rich, but there are also benefits for the middle class as well, such as doubling the standard deduction and eliminating the alternative minimum tax. In addition, small business owners will benefit from the sharp reduction in the corporate income tax rate to 15%. Historically, tax cuts have boosted the economy, and this one should as well. The stock market has already discounted such a boost. The Dow is up 6% already this year. Past history tells us that the final law will be considerably different from President Trump’s proposal once Congress has weighed in, so stay tuned. (b) He has pressured certain large corporations, such as Carrier, into cancelling plans to relocate jobs to foreign countries. (c) He has approved commencement of construction of the Dakota Pipeline and withdrawn from participation in TPP. (d) He has issued executive orders designed to alleviate the burden of excessive government regulations on business, especially small businesses.
- Healthcare – His bill to repeal and replace the ACA failed to pass, but he has chipped away at the ACA somewhat by executive order. The likelihood is that the Administration will continue to try to secure passage of a comprehensive healthcare bill, but it needs to win over conservative Republicans and/or moderate Democrats to do so (a tall order).
- Immigration/Border Security – His policies are designed to protect Americans by controlling the flow of illegal immigrants, criminals and drugs. For the most part, he wants to accomplish this by enforcing existing laws, which have been largely ignored by previous administrations. Those who advocate open borders should look how well that has worked in Europe. I view open borders as akin to leaving the doors of your house open at night. (a) He has issued two executive orders designed to tighten the vetting process for immigrants. So far, he has been thwarted by his opponents, who have challenged them successfully in the ultraliberal 9th circuit. I find it very frustrating that one liberal judge, ruling based on personal politics rather than the law, can thwart the wishes of a majority of Americans, but it has happened twice. (b) Similarly, his executive order to defund sanctuary cities that refuse to obey Federal law has also been challenged successfully in the 9th circuit. Hopefully, the government will ultimately prevail in the Supreme Court. (c) Congress has been able to block funding for the Border Wall.
- Foreign Relations – (a) He has exhibited strong, decisive leadership, which was sorely lacking in the previous administration. (b) He has been very aggressive with terrorist organizations. He authorized the extensive bombing of Syria after Assad used chemical weapons on his own people, including on babies and children. Furthermore, he authorized the use of a MOAB, “mother of all bombs” on suspected terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan. (c) He has met with the heads of state of several countries, such as Japan and China, to establish rapport and establish a basis for cooperation. (d) He has enlisted the support of China, hopefully, to reign in North Korea. (e) He has reiterated the US’s strong support of Israel.
Has President Trump been perfect so far? Has he delivered on all of his campaign pledges? No and no. But, in my opinion, there have been more positives than negatives. In my opinion, his biggest negative has been his inability to convince Congress to support him, notably, with respect to healthcare and funding for the Border Wall. He is reputed to be a superb negotiator. He has to demonstrate this ability prospectively in order to have a successful presidency. (The rulings in the 9th District are not his fault. Thanks to the system of checks and balances imbedded in the Constitution the President cannot control the courts.)
It is important to keep in mind that he has been dogged by a hostile Democratic party, which, incidentally, has shown far more unity against him than it did during the election campaign. In addition, many in his own party have been opposing him. And, then, of course, there is the media, which continues to slant and exaggerate the news against him. His use of twitter has helped him in this area. It is almost a modern version of FDR’s “fireside chats” in the 1930s.
I remain optimistic that things will work out. We shall see.