We have to take a look at the first year of Trump’s Presidency and evaluate the successes and failures. First, we will start with the successes.
He was able to nominate and confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. If nothing else had been accomplished this was a major success. Of course, the Democrats and Liberals continue to scream about this being a stolen seat on the Court but none of them can say with a straight face that they would not have done the same thing if the roles were reversed. And they did not reach a crescendo in their screaming until after Hillary Clinton snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the election. Some have even gone so far as to question Gorsuch’s credentials which is absolutely insane. They said nothing when Elena Kagan was nominated without anything close to Gorsuch’ experience on the bench.
Trump had ups and downs with his travel ban with District Court judges playing politics with the decision. Obama appointees repeatedly invalidated his bans until the Supreme Court stepped in and gave him a partial victory. Recently the Ninth Circuit again struck down part of the ban in a direct confrontation with the Supreme Court. All three of the judges in the ruling were Clinton appointees. The danger with this is if let unchallenged you will find everyone court shopping. The administration will seek an emergency hearing from the Supreme Court on this decision and the Court should make it very clear that they will no longer tolerate individual District Court judges ignoring their rulings. The danger of not doing so could find some serious consequences in the future.
On the economy, you have to give Trump some credit. I don’t give him 100% of the credit for the continued rise in the stock market. Liberals loved to claim this was Obama and I chastised them then. Now they are suddenly mute on why the market continues its march upward. The real credit goes to the Fed who have artificially kept interest rates low. Some of the credit, a minor part, should go to Trump for his economic policies that have buoyed business. His attack on regulations has the strong support of the business community. As a nation, we went overboard in this area. I remember when former Senator George McGovern (D-SD) retired he purchased a bed and breakfast in New England. He later testified before the Senate that if he had realized the time and cost of filling out endless government forms and complying with useless regulations he would never have voted for them.
You have to give Trump some credit in the overall economy as well. Under the Obama administration, our growth languished at under 3% with the best year being 2015 at 2.6%. If you look at the chart below you will see that we struggled to get the economy moving and it would try to start and then fall back. I attribute much of this to the failed stimulus with the emphasis on public sector jobs. There is nothing wrong with hard-working public employees but all of them are a net drain on the treasury. By that I mean the cost of employing them exceeds any taxes they may return. Trump has focused on the private sector and trying to grow it. When employees get higher wages and when new employees have added to the work roles then revenue to the treasury increases. Private sector employment growth generates higher revenue.
So far in 2017, we are growing at a rate of about 3% and that is a good rate. Trump has said he wants to grow at 4% but that might overheat the economy and lead to inflation. The unemployment rate has continued to decline to go from about 4.2% when Trump took office to a ten year low of 2.6%. The reason this is important is that it means we are manufacturing good in the U.S. and pivoting from being only a service-based economy. Just as important is that manufacturing wages are also rising.
In foreign policy, he has confronted North Korea unlike any of the past four Presidents. I am not sure how this will all play out but someone needed to take a strong stand. He has rightly criticized the Iran deal. And the new information that suggests that the Obama administration turned a blind eye to the drug trafficking operations of Hezbollah is very concerning. It should be obvious to any rational person that the Iranians never had any expectation of adhering to the tenants of the agreement. What it was, in reality, was a piece of paper for President Obama to claim some victory while the Iranians just chuckled. Trump’s strong efforts in attacking ISIS has helped destroy them and drive them from their seat of power. He says he will consider Jerusalem the capital of Israel, something other Presidents have said and Congress has voted to support, but he backs it up by saying he will move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Suddenly Democrats are in an uproar the media is denouncing this move but they all said nothing when Obama said he supported Jerusalem as the capital.
The largest victory for President Trump was the passage of major tax reform for the first time in 30 years. The bill could have been much better but for political reasons, the Republicans in the Senate had to use the budgetary process of reconciliation to pass the bill. Under this process, they only needed 51 votes and the Democrats were prevented from filibustering the bill. Of course, the Democrats have been screaming that the bill is a giveaway to the wealthy and corporations. The giveaway to the corporations was the reduction in the corporate tax rate from 34% to 21%. They have all conveniently forgotten that President Obama wanted to cut it to 22% to make us more competitive in the world. For the claim of it being a boon to the wealthy they always use dollar amounts in the tax cuts to make their point. Just as they used to cry about the $10,000 tax cut during the Bush years they conveniently ignored that it was a 10% across the board cut in those days. This bill, in 2017, was a tax cut for the middle class. Make no mistake about that. Here is a chart from the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, a group of professionals that Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) repeatedly praised during consideration of the bill.
Data Notes: Households less than $40,000 are shown as “n/a” because they do not pay income taxes in aggregate. JCT does not appear to publish current law estimates of individual and corporate income taxes only for 2019, so I estimated them using ratios from this TPC table.
So, as you read this table you see that the largest percentage tax cuts go to the cohorts earning between $40,000 and $200,000. This is the middle class in this country. The highest earners are in the $1,000.000 or more cohort and this is where the Democrats focus their complaints. Naturally, they will get back more dollars on a smaller percentage cut but they will continue to pay the bulk of the taxes in this country.
So, don’t let the media mavens and sore loser Democrats fool you. This was a strong middle-class tax cut and the higher incomes in this country will still continue to pay the bulk of the taxes and under the bill just passed their percentages will more than likely increase.
There have been what I would call failures in the Trump first year. First and foremost was the inability to muster the votes in the Senate to repeal ObamaCare. Over and over a few recalcitrant Republican Senators voted against repeal and this was a major defeat for Trump.
I also have to call his consistent tweeting a failure. There is a certain decorum that the President of the United States should have and Trump fails miserably at this trait. He appears to be so thin-skinned that he had to fire back at any perceived criticism or opposition. I keep wishing someone could either take the phone away or convince him he is only hurting his image with this barrage of activity. Sure, it appeals to the base but they are already with you. To the rest of the nation, it looks a bit unseemly.
I would consider his constant attacks on the media and his “Fake News” campaign to be a failure as well. Again, it plays to the base but not to the rest of the nation. I accept that the media does not like President Trump and they have certainly not been even-handed in their treatment of the first year of his Presidency. In fact, they have been overly critical and failed to give him any credit when some is due. They have in many cases allowed their personal political bias to change in how they cover the President and that is a failure on their part.
The real issue here should be what the policies of the Administration do to you in real life. When pollsters ask about the policies of the Trump Administration they get high marks and only when you include his name in the question do they falter. That should be a lesson to the Administration that they are failing to connect with the American people in a positive way and something has to change.