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Saturday, July 22, 2017

182 vs. 100 -- President Trump's First Half Year

When the first 100 days ended for President Trump, the media went crazy with analysis.  Back when Franklin Roosevelt first took office, 100 days became a big deal in looking at what a new president accomplishes.  Now that it's been half a year for the President in office, there has been something akin to a yawn from the media.  That seems silly to me.  I think we ought to look at President Trump's achievements and failures for the first eighth of his term.  Here's a non-exclusive list of both:


1.  Trump has rolled back unnecessary regulations to an extent unseen in American history.  Congress passed about 15 bills that undid major regulations of the Obama era.  Things that were nothing more than blatant power grabs by the federal government but which achieved no positive results for the country were erased when signed into law by the President.  The Trump team also put on hold a whole series of other regulations that had not yet been completed.  All of this took a major burden off of the economy and the American people.

2.  Trump unleashed the American energy industry.  In the space of six months, the President ended the war on coal waged by the Democrats, he vastly simplified the procedures for getting drilling permits, he opened off shore land for exploration, he promoted American energy exports, and he opened federal lands for reasonable exploration.  As a result, American energy imports are falling and our exports are growing.  The cost of energy has fallen while more of the amount spent on energy is staying here in the USA rather than funding oil-producing countries hostile to the USA.  As this continues, many tens of thousands of new good jobs will be created here.

3.  Trump ended trade deals that were not beneficial to the USA while not starting the trade wars that so many of his enemies predicted.  We are negotiating now with China for new trade agreements.  We are also negotiating with a great many other countries for new trade deals.  Meanwhile, while on his foreign trips, the President has announced big trade deals that will result in a great many new jobs in the USA.

4.  Trump made clear that the USA would enforce our immigration laws, a move which has cut the number of illegals entering the country by more than half.  He has also focused the deportation efforts on those with criminal records.  This has been a contentious area of policy, so it is unclear where things like the border wall, DACA, and other deportation efforts will end up, but so far, Trump's policies have been a success.

5.  Trump withdrew from the Paris climate agreement.  That agreement has no enforcement mechanism, and even were it fully implemented (which is highly unlikely) it would not have materially affected global temperatures.  Nevertheless, this basically do-nothing agreement would have cost the USA tens or hundreds of billions of dollars over the next 20 years and would have hobbled our ability to compete with companies in places like China and India.

6.  In foreign affairs, Trump achieved two major things in the Middle East:  first, he got 50 Muslim nations to get together to condemn terrorism.  Second, he presided over the crushing of ISIS which has lost Mosul and is about to lose its capital of Raqqa.  Trump also restored respect for America's positions by blasting the Assad forces in Syria for their use of chemical weapons.  No longer are American red lines an idle threat.  Trump also restored balance to the US position in the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Israel went from being slapped around by Obama to being treated like the friend and ally which that country is under Trump.  In Europe, the jury is still out.  Trump has gotten more NATO countries to put up the cash they agreed to spend on their militaries.  Much of the rest of the relations with that continent remain to be developed.


1.  Any list of failures for the President has to begin with the obvious one, the failure to repeal Obamacare.  I'm not sure if this is a Trump failure or the failure of Republican senators, but Trump has to share in the responsibility even if the senators are mostly to blame.  This could still change, but I doubt it.

2.  Message control -- Trump has let himself get sidetracked often, particularly in his tweets.  I am not one who thinks that he should stop tweeting, but I do think that he should stay on message.  For example, if Jeff Sessions is about to announce a major bust of the worst gang in the USA, it is not the time to attack Sessions for his recusal in the Russia matter.  Trump keeps stepping on good news and having the media cover "problems" whether real of imagined. 

3.  The Russia investigation -- To the extent that after a year of investigation there is still nothing tying the President to any collusion with Russia, this could be called a success.  On the other hand, to the extent that the White House has been unable to get this issue behind it, I rate the issue a failure by Trump.  To be clear, it is also a failure for the media which has managed to make itself look petty and silly through most of the stories.  Still, Trump needs to do better on this subject moving forward.

4.  North Korea -- The North Koreans now have nuclear weapons and an ICBM.  This is a terrible combination.  To be fair, the failure in stopping the NKs belongs to the Obama administration, but Trump has been unable to make any headway so far in stopping Kim Jung Un's march toward being a full nuclear power.  This is a work in progress, but so far, Trump has failed.

Open Item:

1.  Taxes and the Trump agenda -- The GOP Congress had better soon come up with a tax reform/cut measure if the economy is to get the needed boost.  Trump will need to display a great deal of presidential leadership if this is to be pushed through.  The same is true with regard to the rest of his agenda.

If you were to ask the mainstream media to rate Trump's first six months, you would likely be told that he had failed miserably.  That's just the usual Fake News narrative.  If Trump had walked on water at the Sea of Galilee during his visit to Israel, no doubt the New York Times would have been "Trump fails to perform the miracle of loaves and fishes during Israel visit."  The President can do nothing right in the eyes of the media.  A fair review of the first six months, however, shows a lot of positive accomplishments.  There's still a great deal more to do, though.  We will have to watch where things go from here.

UPDATE -- OK, OK -- I get it.  I left off Neil Gorsuch being nominated to the Supreme Court and his successful confirmation.  This is one of the President's most important accomplishments.  You can stop the email now.

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