Trump’s First Year: Successes and Failures

As we enter into the second year of Donald Trump’s Presidency it would be the right time to reflect back on what he has accomplished and where he has failed.

The first thing that comes to mind is actually a failure.  He continues to personally act in a manner that in my opinion is unpresidential.  It appears he lacks any filter between what he thinks and what he says.  His latest gaffe (which is in dispute) concerned immigration and where we accept immigrants from.  His denigrating comment about some of these nations was uncalled for and simply not acceptable from the Leader of the free world.  His penchant for tweeting out his thoughts is not serving him or the administration well.  His personality is such that he thinks he is still running a real estate business where course talk and bragging are part of the game.  He is the President of the United States and needs to start acting like it.

His second failure is healthcare.  Over and over he promised to repeal ObamaCare and time and time he has failed to garner the votes in Congress to make this happen.  Now I understand that it is difficult because of the rules in the Senate and Democrats will oppose him on each and every issue but he was within one vote and did not get it across the finish line.  The Republicans took a step in that direction under the tax reform bill by repealing the individual mandate.  This prompted the Democrats to immediately start claiming that they were taking health insurance away from millions of Americans.  They are absolutely wrong and they know it but they continue to use this talking point trying to convince the American public of something that is not true.  I would challenge someone to show me where in the tax reform bill it takes away someone’s health insurance.  If you want to buy health insurance you can.  If you get a subsidy you will still get the subsidy.  What you will not be if fined for not buying health insurance.  In the last year of data available 6.7 million (4.5%) paid the penalty.  It was their decision then and it will be their decision in the future but they will not be penalized for making that decision.

Another failure of the Trump administration’s first year has been staffing the administration to allow his policies to be enacted.  There are thousands of jobs that have gone unfilled and left departments short-staffed and unable to effectively carry out the mission.  Some of this, in my opinion, can be attributed to the fact that I don’t believe Trump thought he was going to win so he did not have names generated for the jobs that are vacant.  A major problem has been Democrats trying to slow walk every appointment, even those that are not very important.  Normally when a year ends the nominations for Executive appointments carry forward but under the rules, the Executive Branch can be required to resubmit the names along with the documentation backing up each one.  The Democrats have forced a couple hundred of these to be fully resubmitted.  Until the President can get all the people he desires in the positions he wants to fill this will be a failure on the part of his administration.

Now we should discuss where Trump has succeeded.  I do this without regard to his personality or comments.  I base this solely on policy and what I believe are achievements that benefit the American public and the economy.

Economic growth is up in the country and you have to give Trump some of the credit.  His policies of encouraging American workers and American manufacturing have resulted in growth in both manufacturing jobs and manufacturing wages.  These are the blue-collar jobs that have been disappearing from the nation and many would say it was these voters in the mid-west that delivered the Presidency to Donald Trump.  When President Obama took office, we were in the beginning of a deep recession.  He tried multiple things to reverse the trend, including his stimulus act but the highest growth his administration saw was 2.9% in 2015.  Most of the time it was below 2% and that was not acceptable.  You may not have liked Bill Clinton but under his administration, we had multiple years over 4%.  In 2016 (data is not all in) it appears we will be over 3%.  That is a win for President Trump.

You then have to look at the recent tax reform bill.  Democrats continue to complain that it was a giveaway to corporations because the corporate tax rate was reduced to 21%.  They all seem t have forgotten that President Obama and Democrats were supporting a reduction to 22% in the last administration.  Part of this claim is based on how the bill had to be written to comply with the Byrd rule.  The tax reform was done under reconciliation because the Democrats would have filibustered the bill in normal procedure.  For this reason, they could not make the individual tax cuts permanent but nobody, even the Democrats squawking about this, believes they will expire in 2025.   All of their comments are pure politics and anyone buying them should question their own ability to understand the political system.  The bill reduced tax rates for all individuals and gave the middle class and poor the highest percentage reductions.  Democrats keep talking about how high earners get more dollars cut but they never talk about how much those people pay in taxes.  According to the Joint Tax Committee staff, about 85% of taxpayers will now claim the standard deduction and a large segment of them will not pay any federal income taxes.  The other bonus of this bill is the one-time tax holiday for monies held overseas by U.S. companies.  Under the bill, untaxed profits could come home at 8% for those invested in real estate and 15.5% for other funds.  This is similar to what Democrats like Schumer endorsed in the past but now they decry this as a giveaway.  Are you still buying their political line because if so you are not listening to what they said a few years ago?

I will give a limited success to the rise in the stock market.  When Obama was President his supporters crowed about the success the market was seeing while crediting this to his presidency.  In reality, most of that market rise was more attributable to the Fed’s cheap money policy than anything else.  That would be the same reason the market continues to jump under Trump but right now passage of the tax reform bill is giving the market a jolt in the arm so you give Trump a limited success mark.

Another win for Trump has been reduced regulation.  Under President Obama, the number of regulatory rules on business skyrocketed and some estimates were it was costing the economy about $100B per year.  In 2016 his administration set a record with 81,640 pages of regulations, beating the previous record he had set in 2010 by 235 pages.  Trump has taken the proverbial meat axe to the regulatory issue and reduced them to allow business to prosper and grow.

 

In my opinion, another win for Trump is in foreign policy.  This is an area where Democrats scream about him not being liked but the truth is nations now expect the United States to be a leader in the world and no longer be apologizing and allowing nations to take advantage of us.  He has confronted North Korea where previous administrations (back to Clinton) turned a blind eye and allowed them to build their nuclear capability.  He has let Iran know that he will overturn the Iran Nuclear agreement if they don’t comply and stop funding terrorism around the world.  He has let nations know they can no longer take advantage of the U.S. in trade agreements.  In other words, he has returned the United States to a position of negotiating from strength.

Immigration is a mixed bag for Trump.  The courts have stopped his travel ban on multiple occasions even though it was temporary and public opinion was slightly in his favor.  It would only take one terrorist act and the public sympathy would swing heavily in his favor.  He correctly told Congress to address the DACA issue because it was their responsibility.  This past week he met with Congressional leaders and told them to strike a deal on both DACA and comprehensive immigration.  Democrats recoiled when he said we have to have strong border security.  But it was Bill Clinton that made this point in his 1995 State of the Union address:

“All Americans, not only in the states most heavily affected, but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public service they use impose burdens on our taxpayers. That’s why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens.”

“In the budget, I will present to you we will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace as recommended by the commission headed by former Congresswoman Barbara Jordan.”

“We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it.”

Clinton received a standing ovation from Democrats for this point.  Notice his use of certain words.  He refers to it as “illegal immigration” something Democrats are afraid to say these days.  These days Democrats view these illegal immigrants as a source of future votes so they are doing their best to keep them all here and keep the borders porous.  Trump called on leaders of both parties to work together and send him a comprehensive immigration bill that would put some teeth in our laws and still allow for immigration, but on our terms.

This past week Trump called for allowing states to require Medicaid recipients, when possible, to work for the benefits they are receiving.  The Democrats immediately denounced this as inhumane and showing how callous the President is towards the poor. But once again I go back to Bill Clinton.  In two successive States of the Union, he brought this issue up.  First in 1995.

Last year I introduced the most sweeping welfare reform plan ever presented by an administration. We have to make welfare what it was meant to be — a second chance, not a way of life. We have to help those on welfare move to work as quickly as possible, to provide child care and teach them skills if that’s what they need for up to two years. And after that, there ought to be a simple hard rule: anyone who can work must go to work. If a parent isn’t paying child support, they should be forced to pay. We should suspend drivers’ licenses, track them across state lines, make them work off what they owe. That is what we should do. Governments do not raise children, people do. And the parents must take responsibility for the children they bring into this world.

Then he reaffirmed this a year later in 1996.

I say to those who are on welfare, and especially to those who have been trapped on welfare for a long time: For too long our welfare system has undermined the values of family and work, instead of supporting them. The Congress and I are near agreement on sweeping welfare reform. We agree on time limits, tough work requirements, and the toughest possible child support enforcement. But I believe we must also provide child care so that mothers who are required to go to work can do so without worrying about what is happening to their children.

I challenge this Congress to send me a bipartisan welfare reform bill that will really move people from welfare to work and do the right thing by our children. I will sign it immediately.

So, you can see Democrats support this type of policy when one of their leaders suggest it but decry it when Trump suggests people actually work for government benefits. And to be accurate, the proposal by both Presidents was for people able to work, not the disabled or those unable to work.  But Democrats are acting like allowing states to require some form of work by those that can is a terrible and inhuman thing.

I am sure there are issues that I have failed to include on both sides of the ledger.  The President is trying to battle the opioid addiction issue with limited success.  He is trying to fill the judicial appointments that every President fills but that is being stonewalled in many instances by the opposition party.

As we enter the second year I would hope that we see more successes and fewer failures.  I say this because I want the country to move forward and individual people find success.  I would hope we would see more bipartisan cooperation and I would hope the President would put down the phone and quit tweeting.  I am not holding my breath on either of this occurring.

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