As both parties and the White House do their very best to spin the first 100 days of the Trump Administration, it has been an at times tumultuous political start in the White House for President Donald Trump, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been able to make progress on some fronts in the opening weeks of his time in office.
Let’s take a look at where Mr. Trump has been able to push the ball down the field in his first 100 days – and where things have not gone according to plan.
1. Neil Gorsuch on the U.S. Supreme Court. When you talk to Republicans about the start of the Trump Administration, many GOP lawmakers eagerly cite this nomination. “We cannot miss that we have nominated and confirmed Neal Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA). “Confirming Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in his first 100 days was a 30 year victory for President Trump,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). We won’t know for many years where Gorsuch ends up on the ideological spectrum of the Court, but certainly there is no denying how important this was for Trump, and for Republicans who support him. “And I got it done in the first 100 days,” Trump said earlier this month. “You think that’s easy?”
2. Tough talk and enforcement leads to immigration slowdown. While President Trump certainly has not fulfilled all of his promises to crack down on illegal immigrants (DACA is still in effect, for example), his policy changes on immigration law enforcement seem to have had an impact, as the number of people trying to get across the southern border of the United States has clearly slowed. In December, over 16,000 families were stopped at the border – that was down to 1,100 in March. Overall in March, the number of people apprehended at the border is down 64 percent from where it was a year earlier. “These numbers are lower because we’ve shown we’re serious about border security and enforcing our immigration laws,” said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
3. Trump, GOP try to reverse federal regulations. Whether through executive actions, or efforts within federal agencies to rewrite major rules and regulations, President Trump has certainly taken a step to fulfill his promise of overturning regulations. And Congress has chipped in as well, sending the President 13 different measures to overturn a regulatory rule of the Obama Administration. “We’ve lifted one terrible regulation after another at a record clip, from the energy sector to the auto sector. And we have many more to go,” Mr. Trump said as he signed an executive order last week. Whether you think these changes are good or bad isn’t the point – rolling back red tape and regulations is something Republicans have talked about a lot – now Mr. Trump is in position to deliver.
4. Trump follows through on tough trade rhetoric. During his campaign, President Trump made clear that he felt that American workers and businesses were getting the shaft when it came to trade agreements, and he's continued to press that case during his time in the White House. Just this week, Mr. Trump railed against Canada, and demanded a re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, while holding out the threat of simply terminating that agreement. "It's been very good for Canada, it's been very good for Mexico, but it's been horrible for the United States," the President said. Tough talk on trade – whether NAFTA, or Chinese steel or other items is popular with many Trump supporters – and with Rust Belt Democrats as well. Don't underestimate how well this issue plays for the President.
5. Shaking up Washington, D.C. If there was one message that I heard maybe more than any other out on the campaign trail in 2016, it was the desire of supporters of President Trump to send a message to the political establishment – of both parties. They wanted to vote for him, because he was going to shake things up in Washington. Well, he certainly has succeeded in doing that. Again – as in other examples – you may not agree with what he’s done, or how he has gone about doing it, but he certainly has introduced a different dynamic in the nation’s capital. Obviously, there is room for argument about whether shaking things up actually leads to progress.
While progress has been made on some of his goals, there are certainly other issues where the President and Republicans in Congress have not been able to push ahead and fulfill their campaign promises.
Some of those include:
+ Health care – The legislative effort to repeal and replace the Obama health law remains hung up in the House, and even if a bill gets approved there, it’s not clear what the Senate would be able to do, as Republicans remain at odds on the best way forward. The GOP was trying to get a vote in the House before the President’s 100th day, but had to abandon that plan on Thursday night. They will try again next week.
+ Infrastructure – President Trump talked a lot about how he would spur new job growth by pushing a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, using a public-private partnership to trigger work on new roads, bridges and more. But the White House has not unveiled any official proposal, and there is no momentum on it in the Congress. How do you pay for it? That was the big hangup in the Obama Administration as well.
+ Border wall money – The White House wanted money in a stop gap budget plan to help build a wall along the border with Mexico, but basically hit a wall in Congress. First, Democrats are in no mood to help him, and there are a number of Republicans who don’t think much of the issue either. This will be a flashpoint again later this year.
+ Tax reform – While the President unveiled an outline of a tax reform plan this week, many details were still To Be Determined, and that doesn’t bode well for fast action in the Congress on a tax bill. Back in 1985, President Reagan delivered a full legislative bill to Congress on reform, and that was used as the basis for action. This time, the GOP has a one page flyer from the President. Lawmakers like to have some political cover, and the President has offered little.
+ Expectations – While President Trump grumbled a bit this week about the 100 day measurement, he set the bar pretty high on his own last year during the campaign, vowing to get ten major initiatives through the Congress. Obviously, that wasn’t going to happen, but when you look back from this point, it’s important to realize how much energy it takes – even with one party control of the White House and the Congress.