Opinion: Trump 1st Year Report Card

In 2016, then presidential candidate Donald Trump campaigned like there was nothing he couldn’t do, no deal he couldn’t make, and no problem he couldn’t solve. But in the world of politics, there are somethings that are out of your control.

This past year has been categorized by natural disasters and partisan feuding that seems to have served as a wakeup call for newly-elected President Trump. In the State of the Union address on Jan. 30, Trump sounded more reserved, tactful and practical with his expectations compared to the address he gave to the joint session of Congress less than one year ago.

In his joint address, Trump laid out the plans that he had for his administration, which covered everything from Obamacare to education, immigration to infrastructure. While there was no expectation that he would accomplish all of his objectives in his first year, Trump has suffered a number of large legislative setbacks which have overshadowed his smaller victories.

There are lessons to be learned in these setbacks that, if taken into account, will help to make the Trump administration more successful and productive.

Arguably the biggest disappointment for the Trump administration was the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. In his joint congressional address last year, Trump promised to pass a plan that would allow expanded healthcare choices through the purchase of coverage across state lines, along with more healthcare savings account options. Republicans then spent eight months working on a repeal bill that failed to pass the Senate.

Despite being able to repeal the individual mandate along with the tax bill passed in December, the Obamacare repeal blunder characterized the majority of Trump’s first year in office. It painted the Republican Party and the Trump administration as disorganized and unwilling to compromise to get things done.

The tax bill, on the other hand, was, without a doubt, the president’s biggest legislative success. In the month since its passage, at least 316 companies have announced they will be giving employees bonuses, increasing wages, or lowering rates to consumers as a result of the tax bill, according to Americans for Tax Reform.

The successful passage showed a willingness to negotiate and cooperation among Republican lawmakers, showing that lessons from Obamacare have already been learned. However, its success has been overshadowed by Trump repeatedly calling the bill the biggest tax cut in history during his State of the Union address. Under most evaluations of the bill, Trump appears to be overselling its success.

The most common method for reviewing the size of tax cut legislation is to view the predicted decrease in tax revenue and compare it to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Under this evaluation, the Treasury Department lists Trump’s tax cuts as the fifth largest in history at a 1.1 percent decrease compared to the 2.9 percent decrease under Ronald Reagan in 1981. This overselling of the bill’s impact leaves Trump open to attack from political rivals who seek to characterize him as deceitful and ineffective.

However, Trump has not oversold on his promise to boost the economy. In the last year, unemployment levels reached a 17-year-low, while the number of job vacancies rose to a 17-year-high, according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.org.

Manufacturing jobs, in particular, have seen an increase over the last year as companies such as Toyota and Mazda announced the opening of new U.S. factories last April, due to decreased regulations. In January, Apple and Chrysler also announced that they would be opening new facilities in the United States as a result of the new
tax cuts.

In the coming year, immigration is likely to continue to be a focus of the Trump administration. In his State of the Union address, Trump showed that he has learned from the Obamacare failure and that he cannot strong arm legislation through Congress. His proposal of a path to citizenship for individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents in conjunction with a stronger border shows a willingness to compromise and negotiate.

In the coming year, the special investigation headed by Robert Mueller will likely continue to hover over the Trump administration. However, over the past few months, the Trump administration seems to have finally gotten settled into its role of leading the country. Hopefully, he and his administration will continue to learn from their mistakes in the coming year in order to accomplish more of their goals for the country.


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