The First One Hundred Days: A Failure in Leadership, but a Boon for Trump
We’ve reached April 29th, the demarcator of President Trump’s first one hundred days in office. President Trump was elected with a slim majority in the Electoral College, in fact the slimmest margin in nearly 60 years and the 46/58 lowest percentage of total Electoral college votes; President Trump is also one of only 5 presidential nominees to win an election while losing the popular vote. Combined with vitriolic campaign rhetoric, accusations of sexual assault, and lack of desire to reach across the aisle, was it any surprised that Donald Trump was immediately met with resistance from those that voted against him? While his inauguration garnered lukewarm support and ratings, the Women’s March the following day was larger than anyone could have imagined, with estimates of 3.3 to 4.4 million in the US alone. With these estimates it would make it the largest protest in American history, ever. Protests do not change the makeup of Congress, nor who the President is, so I would like to take the time to acknowledge just a couple of the successes during the first one hundred days.
The President has seemingly stumbled through policy, despite the fact that Republicans control the House, Senate, and Presidency. The President’s first move in office was his unsuccessful bid to ban entry into the United States by persons from 7 different countries. A move harshly criticized and halted in court. So Trump dropped the ban, licking his wounds, and naturally tried again, reordering the ban only to be met by the same criticism from same 9th circuit court of appeals who this time used his campaign rhetoric against his claims of this ban not being a “muslim ban.” So as it stands, the travel ban is dead in the water and we can chalk it up as a loss for the President. Though if he has his way and breaks up the 9th circuit court maybe he’ll succeed in the future.
One of President Trump’s main campaign pledges was to “...repeal and replace the horrible disaster known as Obamacare,” on the first day of his administration. We know now that did not happen, but there was a bill proposed by the Republican leadership in congress. Fortunately for those on Obamacare most vulnerable to repeal, Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan lack the level of leadership to craft a bill satisfactory to their majorities in both houses. Lacking the support of the ‘Freedom Caucus’ to move forward with passage of the AHCA, the house dropped the bill. Another loss for Republican legislators. So now in drafting a new amendment to the AHCA to placate the Freedom Caucus, they’ve lost the support of moderate Republicans in the house. It’s also worth noting that while no official CBO estimates have been released as the impact of this bill, AARP is reporting that the new addition of high risk pools would drive premiums for the most vulnerable up to nearly $25,000 a year. So much winning for the average American!
President Trump has also begun to realize he needs to assuage his falling ratings. He hit a low point of 35% before turning to bombing Syria and watched his ratings soar. Now with the threat of a nuclear competent North Korea, he’s openly posturing on Twitter and his supporters — and the media — are eating it up. Though even in matters of strategy he has managed to forget the name of the country he is bombing, and openly lied about where a flotilla was navigating to. It should be concerning to most Americans that a president who cannot succeed in policy and leadership is instead attempting to offset that with military intervention.
On trade, Donald Trump speaks a big game about bringing jobs back to America, but the vast majority of manufacturing jobs have been lost to automation, not globalization. Instead, we’ve taken an antagonistic stance against our closest neighbors, deriding the Canadian milk market and slapping tariffs on the Canadian lumber trade. Trump looked set to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) until talking to both the Mexican and Canadian leaders. Now he is claiming he will renegotiate it, but all signs indicate that he will likely not be able to effect any real change, and instead these trade policies make life more difficult for low-income Americans who rely on cheap goods
And this is not to say that the Trump Administration has had zero successes. It just happens that most of those victories are for Trump himself. Trump, who donated his $400,000 salary to the National Park Service, an admirable move without doubt (while also attempting to slash their budget by 1.5 billion, a fair trade off, right?), has already found numerous ways to make make money off of the presidency including charging the secret service rent to protect his wife Melania in Trump Tower, who as of yet has given no timeline on her and Barron’s move to Washington.
Trump’s tax plan represents another shift in capital from the American base to the elite. The centerpiece of the plan for Trump — the repeal of the Estate Tax, or ‘Death Tax’ as its opponents like to dub it — would represent a tax savings of potentially up to 1.9 billion dollars for his estate on his passing. The American public cannot be certain as to how much money President Trump’s estate will be saving because Donald Trump still has no plans to release his tax returns. This doesn’t even begin to include the benefits to his business from the reduction in the business tax.
The first one hundred days of Trump’s presidency have shown unprecedented lack in leadership from the highest office in the United States. Instead of reaching across the aisle and attempting to heal the divide created by the vitriolic campaigns that were run, Trump has gone all in on being the leader of only half of America. This is not to mention the rise in hate crimes against Jews and Muslims, the multiple ongoing investigations into Trump and his associates’ ties with Russia, and any number of other issues that I could go on and on about. Make no mistake though, to the Republican base that supports him unconditionally, he’s not here to be your leader either. Donald Trump is in this office to enrich himself, his children, and his compatriots. His tax plan represents the largest boon to richest of the rich in America, ever. His views on trade stand to hurt the poorest who rely on cheap goods. To those suffering under the effects of globalization, trade imbalances, skyrocketing healthcare premiums, stagnant wages, bloated rent, student loans, and growing wealth disparity: this presidency was never for you, and the first one hundred days have proven it.
The views expressed in this article represent the views of the author only and do not reflect the views of other Arbitror contributors or of Arbitror as a whole.
Photo: "Donald Trump" originally taken by Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0) for Flickr. No changes were made. Use of this photo does not indicate an endorsement from its creator.