100 DAYS OF DONALD TRUMP
US President Donald Trump discovered the limits of executive orders and presidential actions when his ban on the entry of travellers from seven mainly Muslim nations was overturned in the courts before being rewritten – and then suspended again. A bill to abolish his predecessor Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act did not even make it to a vote in Congress because of deep divisions within his Republican party. He took office on January 20 with a long list of promises for his first 100 days. His record has been mixed. Here are the main issues he has confronted and what he has achieved ahead of Saturday’s 100th day. Was his political honeymoon too short?
Supreme Court nomination: The Senate’s confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court may be the longest lasting and most important success of Trump’s early presidency. The appointment came after a long consultative process in which Trump offered his short list for public approval, consulted widely (including among Democrats) and carefully vetted his candidate.
Withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): His campaign pledge to formally leave the TPP, a huge trade deal between the US and 11 Pacific Rim countries, has happened. However, in doing so, he has withdrawn from a deal that had not yet been ratified by Congress.
Illegal border crossings: The number of undocumented immigrants caught crossing the border into the US dropped significantly by 26% in the month after Trump took power. This is attributable to his hard line on illegal immigration.
National security: Trump has immersed himself in foreign policy and national security after building good relations with China. His launch of cruise missiles against Syria in the wake of a chemical attack was lauded for setting firm red lines, with minimal risk to US personnel or of being sucked into a Middle East conflict.
Regulations: Trump has acted aggressively on his promise to eliminate regulations that he said were hurting the US economy. He issued a permit for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. He also rescinded Obama-era climate change regulations, including the Clean Power Plan; a ban on coal leasing on federal lands; and rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas production. His administration has approved a dozen measures rolling back regulations passed in the final months of the Obama administration on the environment, energy, education and financial services.
Travel ban: Directed at Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Syria and Yemen, the ban was signed into force apparently without the knowledge of the president’s secretary of homeland security and without any warning to airlines or airports. It was chaotic as travellers with valid visas or green cards were detained and deported. Protests erupted countrywide before the order was suspended by the courts, which found it unconstitutional and discriminatory against Muslims.
Drain the swamp: Trump won the election in part by promising to rid Washington of its cosy elite. But his administration of gazillionaires, generals and Goldman Sachs executives looks like the same old cronies.
Healthcare: Repealing and replacing Obamacare became one of Trump’s signature campaign promises. Lacking a clear alternative, Trump’s Congressional leadership withdrew his bill at the eleventh hour, exposing his lack of political experience in negotiating support. It means he reaches the 100-day mark without a major legislative success, other than bills that overturn elements of Obama’s agenda.
Tax cuts: Trump repeatedly promised the biggest tax reform since the 1980s. This week he proposed legislation to slash the corporate tax rate to 15% from 35%, cut the top personal income tax rate to 35%, repeal the inheritance tax and temporarily slash the rate on overseas profits repatriated to the US. Legislators say it is offering only “guideposts” for legislative changes.
Build the wall: Trump’s 100-day plan included legislation to pay for a wall with Mexico, all to be reimbursed by the Mexican government. This has been shelved and, although the department of homeland security says construction will begin in the summer, it is still unclear how funding will be found.
A $1 trillion infrastructure programme: Trump had promised this programme and there is no sign of the bill needed to secure funding from Congress to rebuild the country’s crumbling infrastructure.
Flouting conventions: He has flouted conventions of the institution by holding on to his business, hiring family members as advisers and refusing to release his tax returns.
China a currency manipulator: Trump had vowed the US could impose tariffs on Chinese goods. But in mid-April he changed course and said that China was not a currency manipulator.
– City Press and Agencies