Early on, plenty of drama but lit­tle progress on Trump’s 100-days cam­paign script

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - Glenn.kessler@wash­post.com

“It is a con­tract be­tween my­self and the Amer­i­can voter — and it begins with restor­ing hon­esty and ac­count­abil­ity, and bring­ing change to Wash­ing­ton.”

Pres­i­dent Trump, in the “Con­tract with the Amer­i­can Voter,” is­sued Oct. 22, 2016

On Oct. 22, just weeks be­fore the elec­tion, Pres­i­dent Trump re­leased what he called his “Con­tract with the Amer­i­can Voter.” This was an un­usu­ally de­tailed plan of ac­tion that would guide his ad­min­is­tra­tion in the first 100 days, list­ing 60 spe­cific prom­ises. He even signed the “con­tract” with his dis­tinc­tive sig­na­ture.

At the Fact Checker, we’ve been track­ing the progress of each pledge on an in­ter­ac­tive Web page. With Trump hav­ing passed the one-third mark of his 100 days — and plan­ning to ad­dress Congress on Tues­day — this seemed like an ap­pro­pri­ate mo­ment to take stock.

What is strik­ing is that de­spite the drama of Trump’s first month in of­fice, he has made lit­tle or no progress on many of his prom­ises. Six prom­ises are listed as “kept,” while 45 have seen no ac­tion. We also list seven as “launched,” one as “stuck” and one as “bro­ken.”

Per­haps this should not be a sur­prise. Trump, in his con­tract, set ex­tremely am­bi­tious goals for him­self. He listed 18 items that “on my first day in of­fice, my ad­min­is­tra­tion will im­me­di­ately pur­sue.”

The White House now says he did not mean he would do all on his first day, only that he would “pur­sue” them over the next 100 days. The rest of his pledges were listed as “broader leg­isla­tive mea­sures” that Trump would work on with Congress “and fight for their pas­sage within the first 100 days of my ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

Most of the prom­ises that have been kept were easy to carry out, with ac­tion shortly af­ter Trump took the oath of of­fice. Trump an­nounced that the United States was with­draw­ing from the Tran­sPa­cific Part­ner­ship trade deal, the pan-Asian agree­ment that had been a sig­na­ture ef­fort of the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion. But Trump’s an­nounce­ment was largely sym­bolic, be­cause the trade deal was al­ready dead in Congress.

Trump also im­posed a hir­ing freeze across the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, se­lected a Supreme Court re­place­ment for the late An­tonin Scalia, lifted road­blocks to the Key­stone XL pipeline and is­sued a re­quire­ment that for ev­ery new fed­eral reg­u­la­tion, two reg­u­la­tions must be elim­i­nated.

But the reg­u­la­tion or­der might turn out to be the equiv­a­lent of Pres­i­dent Obama’s pledge to close the de­ten­tion fa­cil­ity at Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba. Obama signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der on his first day in of­fice to close Guan­tanamo, but he could not ac­com­plish the goal over his two terms be­cause of po­lit­i­cal and le­gal ob­sta­cles. Trump, like­wise, will find that any ef­fort to scrap a reg­u­la­tion will re­quire a la­bo­ri­ous process — and be sub­ject to lit­i­ga­tion. Some ex­perts be­lieve the re­quire­ment is prob­a­bly il­le­gal. So it is pos­si­ble that this “prom­ise kept” even­tu­ally will shift to “stalled.”

That’s what hap­pened to one key prom­ise: “Sus­pend im­mi­gra­tion from ter­ror-prone re­gions where vet­ting can­not safely oc­cur.” Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der ban­ning en­try to trav­el­ers from seven Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity na­tions (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Ye­men, Su­dan, Libya and So­ma­lia), in­clud­ing per­ma­nent U.S. res­i­dents, was hastily drafted and badly ex­e­cuted. As a re­sult, it was blocked in the fed­eral court sys­tem; the ad­min­is­tra­tion now says it is draft­ing a new or­der.

Many of the prom­ises re­garded as launched also con­cern im­mi­gra­tion. Trump said he would be­gin the re­moval of more than 2 mil­lion crim­i­nal il­le­gal im­mi­grants, can­cel the visas of peo­ple from coun­tries that won’t take back il­le­gal im­mi­grants, can­cel fed­eral fund­ing to “sanc­tu­ary cities” and fund the con­struc­tion of a wall on the U.S.Mex­ico border. Trump has signed or­ders that, to some ex­tent, ful­fill these pledges, but the im­ple­men­ta­tion and fol­lowthrough is open to ques­tion.

Trump, in some cases, al­ready has low­ered his stan­dards. He had pledged to im­me­di­ately can­cel the visas of peo­ple from coun­tries that refuse to ac­cept the re­turn of crim­i­nal il­le­gal im­mi­grants. In­stead, he signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der on Jan. 25 that said: “The Sec­re­tary of State shall, to the max­i­mum ex­tent per­mit­ted by law, en­sure that diplo­matic ef­forts and ne­go­ti­a­tions with foreign states in­clude as a con­di­tion prece­dent the ac­cep­tance by those foreign states of their na­tion­als who are sub­ject to re­moval from the United States.” That’s a sig­nif­i­cant pull­back.

The United States has only twice dis­con­tin­ued the grant­ing of visas to coun­tries that refuse to ac­cept un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants con­victed of crimes: Guyana in 2001 and Gam­bia in 2016. Twenty-three coun­tries have re­fused to ac­cept crim­i­nal aliens, in­clud­ing China, which has re­jected 1,900 crim­i­nals since 2008. So this will be an in­ter­est­ing test case of when cam­paign rhetoric meets diplo­matic re­al­ity. Would Trump really dam­age re­la­tions with an eco­nomic su­per­power to ful­fill a cam­paign pledge?

Trump has promised to re­peal and re­place the Af­ford­able Care Act — he signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der to that ef­fect on Jan. 20 — but GOP law­mak­ers are strug­gling to reach a con­sen­sus on a re­place­ment. For­mer House speaker John A. Boehner (ROhio) flatly pre­dicted Thurs­day that it “is not go­ing to hap­pen.” He said “most of the frame­work” of Oba­macare would sur­vive the leg­isla­tive fight. If Boehner’s pre­dic­tion holds true, we would rate that as a bro­ken prom­ise by Trump.

Trump al­ready has bro­ken one prom­ise: im­pos­ing a five-year ban on White House and con­gres­sional of­fi­cials’ be­com­ing lob­by­ists af­ter they leave gov­ern­ment ser­vice. The ex­ec­u­tive or­der that Trump signed Jan. 28 re­gard­ing ex­ec­u­tive-branch of­fi­cials made no ref­er­ence to con­gres­sional of­fi­cials. More­over, the five-year ban ap­plies only to lob­by­ing one’s for­mer agency — not be­com­ing a lob­by­ist. Trump weak­ened some of the lan­guage from sim­i­lar bans un­der Obama and Ge­orge W. Bush, and he re­duced the level of trans­parency.

One of Trump’s sig­na­ture prom­ises was to make Mex­ico pay for the border wall, which has been es­ti­mated to cost as much as $25 bil­lion to build. Trump was sup­posed to meet with Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Peña Ni­eto shortly af­ter he took of­fice, but Peña Ni­eto can­celed the meet­ing af­ter Trump tweeted: “If Mex­ico is un­will­ing to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be bet­ter to can­cel the up­com­ing meet­ing.”

The two men later ar­ranged a phone con­ver­sa­tion. Since then, Trump has been silent on his prom­ise that Mex­ico would fund the wall. In­stead, he has em­pha­sized how he would keep costs down. “The price is go­ing to come down, just like it has on ev­ery­thing else I’ve ne­go­ti­ated for the gov­ern­ment,” Trump as­serted at a news con­fer­ence on Feb. 16.

There are dozens of other 100day prom­ises on which Trump has taken no ac­tion, in­clud­ing:

Di­rect­ing the trea­sury sec­re­tary to la­bel China a cur­rency ma­nip­u­la­tor.

En­act­ing new ethics rules to re­duce the “cor­rupt­ing in­flu­ence of spe­cial in­ter­ests.”

Pass­ing a law to pro­tect vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture from cy­ber­at­tacks.

Re­form­ing visa rules to en­sure open jobs are of­fered to Amer­i­cans first.

Can­cel­ing bil­lions in pay­ments to the United Na­tions’ cli­mate change pro­grams and di­rect­ing the money to fix­ing U.S. in­fra­struc­ture.

Pro­vid­ing in­cen­tives to em­ploy­ers to pro­vide on-site child-care ser­vices.

Propos­ing a con­sti­tu­tional amendment to im­pose term lim­its on all mem­bers of Congress.

Some of Trump’s prom­ises ap­pear to be im­prac­ti­cal, which could be why no ac­tion has been taken. He promised to im­pose a “com­plete ban” on foreign lob­by­ists rais­ing money for U.S. elec­tions. But it’s al­ready il­le­gal for foreign na­tion­als and foreign gov­ern­ments to con­trib­ute money to U.S. po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns. Trump also said he would “end Com­mon Core,” but those ed­u­ca­tional stan­dards were de­vel­oped by gov­ern­ments and school su­per­in­ten­dents and adopted at the state level. Obama en­cour­aged states to adopt the stan­dards through in­cen­tives, but those pro­grams have ended. (The White House did not re­spond to ques­tions about whether any prom­ises were be­ing scaled back or shelved.)

Fi­nally, Trump promised to create 10 mil­lion jobs in his first term and grow the econ­omy at a rate of 4 per­cent a year. The jobs prom­ise may be in reach — five of the last 10 pres­i­den­tial terms, in­clud­ing Obama’s sec­ond term, re­sulted in at least 10 mil­lion jobs — but the eco­nomic-growth tar­get will be a dif­fi­cult prom­ise to keep. The an­nual change in the gross do­mes­tic product has not topped 3 per­cent in 10 years — and last ex­ceeded 4 per­cent in 2000.

The Fact Checker GLENN KESSLER


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