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Trump’s First Hundred Days: His Policy Batting Average Is Surprisingly High (Forbes.com) April 17, 2017

Posted by daviddavenport in Op/Eds, Politics.

Pundits and professors will be issuing grades soon for Donald Trump’s first hundred days (officially April 29).  As federal judge Danny Boggs has said, while policy-makers are in the arena covered with sweat and blood, the academics watch safely from their ivory towers, coming onto the battlefield later to shoot the wounded.

Certainly Trump’s leadership itself is fair game—including a few bad appointments and a lot of bad tweets—but I am filling out my report card on the extent to which he has pursued the policies he promised during the campaign.  My assignment was made easier when, in an October campaign speech, he outlined what he would do in his first hundred days.  The question I ask is:  To what extent has he pursued these goals?  He may not have scored on each one, but has he at least gotten on base?

The Trump agenda was ambitious, rivaling Franklin Roosevelt’s breathless first hundred days in the face of the Great Depression.  He proposed 28 major initiatives in four groupings:  draining the DC swamp, protecting American workers, restoring security and the rule of law, and proposing major legislation to Congress.  Despite the many distractions he has faced, and in many cases created, his batting average on all but one of these is relatively high.

Draining the DC swamp included six specific initiatives and he’s underway on several.  High marks for a federal hiring freeze, requiring two regulations be cut for every one added (by executive order), and a failing grade for not proposing term limits on all members of Congress as proposed.  The other three goals having to do with limits on lobbying after government service are underway, if not completed.  I’ll give him 4 out of 6 here, not a bad start.

He proposed 7 actions to protect American workers.  As promised, he has stated his intent to “renegotiate NAFTA” but he has already withdrawn from the TPP.  He seems to have reversed field on labeling China a currency manipulator.  A vague one on eliminating trading abuses appears to have at least begun and he has lifted blockades for pipeline projects.  His actions on coal are slow and limited and, despite the hue and cry, so is canceling climate change programs and reinvesting the money.  I’ll mark him 4.5 out of 7 here, but he’s likely to press ahead.

There’s been a lot of action on the constitutional rule of law, though some hasn’t stuck.  His appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court checks one box, and he has tried twice to stop immigration from “terror-prone” regions, though the courts have blocked him for now.  He signed an executive order stopping federal funding for sanctuary cities, but it remains to be seen what the courts will do about it, and he has begun removing illegal immigrants, even though he obviously hasn’t built any walls.  I’d say Trump merits a strong 4 out of 5 here.

Finally, Trump promised to “introduce” and “fight for the passage” of 8 measures in Congress, a huge push in a short time.  He most famously introduced and fought a losing battle to repeal and replace Obamacare, though that battle isn’t over.  No tax act yet, and most of the rest of his goals here have not been achieved.  Where Congress is involved Trump has relatively low grades so far, with the exception of the Gorsuch appointment.

On everything but pushing legislation through Congress, I have Trump batting 12.5 out of 18, just over two-thirds.  With Congress, his grade would be quite low to date.  The conclusion I draw is that, for a politician, he has a high batting average so far of doing exactly what he said he would do, especially where he possesses the power to do so himself without Congress.

The economist Milton Friedman once said: “The fundamental difference between the political market and the economic market is that in the political market there is very little relation between what you vote for and what you get.”  So far, Trump would appear to be an exception to the Friedman rule.

To view the column at Forbes.com:


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