Trump’s Strong Start on Policy

trump accomplishments media bias policyGorsuch confirmed, ISIS defeated, taxes cut: The Trump administration has compiled a solid record of accomplishment in its first year, one that compares well with the records of many of its predecessors.

Two of the biggest accomplishments came late in the year. The prime minister of Iraq declared victory over ISIS on December 9. Republicans reached a deal that seemed to secure passage of a tax bill on December 15. Until then, it appeared possible that 2017 would end without an all-Republican government enacting any major legislation.

Now the Republicans’ policy record looks better, at least as most conservatives see it. The tax bill advances several longstanding conservative objectives. It cuts tax rates for most Americans, slashes the corporate-tax rate for the first time in decades, expands the tax credit for children, limits the reach of the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, and scales back the tax break for expensive homes. By scaling back the deduction for state and local taxes, it may encourage a more conservative fiscal politics in the states. And it allows drilling to proceed in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The tax bill also partly makes up for the failure of Republican efforts earlier in 2017 to repeal Obamacare. The health-care law imposes fines on people who go without insurance. The tax bill sets the fines at zero. The least popular feature of Obamacare is thus effectively nullified.

Some conservatives would have considered voting for Trump in November 2016 worth it just for Justice Neil Gorsuch. His appointment to the Supreme Court means that Justice Scalia’s seat will remain filled by an originalist for the next few decades. If one of the Democratic appointees or Justice Anthony Kennedy leaves the Court while Republicans hold the Senate, Trump will have the opportunity to create the first conservative majority in modern constitutional history. Trump has also nominated many well-qualified conservative jurists to the appeals courts. (The quality of his district-court nominees appears to be significantly lower.)

The administration has begun to rein in regulation. It has withdrawn and modified several of the Obama administration’s regulations, often in concert with Congress. It has stopped or slowed the progress of many others that were barreling down the tracks. The Environmental Protection Agency, now run by Trump appointee Scott Pruitt, has also taken steps to end the practice of “sue and settle,” in which activist groups get the agency to adopt new policies through lawsuits.

Trump killed President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would have imposed significant economic costs while doing little to reduce the risks of global warming. He has effectively ended the Obama administration’s mandate that employers provide contraceptive coverage: Employers who object to providing that coverage, or providing forms of that coverage they consider to cause abortions, are to be exempt. If the new policy stands, the Little Sisters of the Poor will be spending less time in court. Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has withdrawn Obama-era regulations that led colleges to lower the burden of proof for sexual-misconduct allegations and to monitor professors’ speech.

Most conservatives cheered two symbolic actions by the administration: announcing that our embassy in Israel will move to the country’s capital city of Jerusalem and that the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord. (I count that planned withdrawal as symbolic because the accord did not bind us to any policy commitments.)

Conservatives of various types have thus seen progress on their agenda in 2017. Economic conservatives got tax cuts and some deregulation. Legal conservatives got judicial appointments and an executive branch more mindful of the limits of its policymaking authority. Social conservatives also benefited from the judicial appointments and welcomed Trump’s policy of blocking international family-planning funding from going to organizations that promote or perform abortions.

Many Republicans credit Trump for presiding over a strong economy, too. It’s a point that requires some context. Job growth has not been quite as fast as it was in Obama’s last year, but you’d expect it to slow after an expansion this long. Republican economic policies may have played a role in keeping the expansion going. Certainly the predictions of economic doom made right after the election by some Trump opponents — chiefly Paul Krugman — have not come to pass.

It’s not the only bad outcome that has been avoided. Trump has started no trade war and has not blown up the World Trade Organization. He has merely engaged in the low-grade protectionism that is routine for presidents of both parties, and withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership — which may not have been able to win congressional approval even if Trump had stayed in. NATO is still standing, too, and Trump’s complaints about allies’ burden-sharing may be arresting Western Europe’s slide into functional pacifism.

How much Trump contributed to what has gone right in 2017 is debatable. He had less influence over the shape of the tax bill than most presidents exert over major laws. His unpopularity has probably dragged down the bill’s poll numbers. The failure on Obamacare was partly his. And if we have avoided a trade war, it may because he has hired people who are undercutting him. He has reportedly complained that he wants to go further in imposing tariffs but his advisers keep thwarting him.

People who voted for Trump in November 2016 on the theory that he would deliver policies radically different from what other Republicans would do should be disappointed. Those who voted for him because he would usually line up with conservatives and sign Republican bills, on the other hand, have reason to be pleased with his policy record.

They may not like everything about this presidency, the effects of which will not be limited to changes in public policy. Many of Trump’s conservative supporters share some of the concerns of the majority of Americans who oppose him. These conservatives wish the president had spoken more firmly and consistently to denounce the white supremacists in Charlottesville, or had kept his distance from Roy Moore, or had contained himself on Twitter. On policy matters, though, they are getting what they wanted from him.

From - National Reviewl - by Ramesh Ponnuru

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5 years ago

Hi Kim. What’s a mnemonic? It is difficult to list all Presidents Trumps accomplishments without leaving a couple out. I truly believe President Trump, after another year of more success, will be entrenched as one of our best presidents ever. Actually, personally I think he’s the best we’ve ever had. So i presume you niece’s parents are democrats? It is incredible how are young ones are schooled.

5 years ago
Reply to  SARGE

Hi Sarge-
A mnemonic is a device that aids memory. For example, a few of President Trump’s successes include regulation rollbacks, energy, Supreme Court appointment, immigration, stock market, and tax reform. Take the first letter of those issues and they form the word “resist”. That’s a mnemonic.
I agree with you; I think Mr. Trump will go down in history as one of the best—and perhaps THE best in turning around a failing economy.
No, my brother and sister-in-law are Republicans, but they did require some help in actually pulling the lever for Mr. Trump. His morals were intolerable to them, but they eventually came around when they realized that, if they didn’t vote for him, they were voting for Hillary. And that was even more intolerable!
All we have to do to convince those on the other side (some will resist) to join us is to present a logical, well-reasoned representation of the conservative platform. One of the rallies I attended in 2009 focused on Obamacare. Several politicians and health care professionals gave their speeches (against it), and then, as the crowd dispersed, some people stayed behind to “chat”. A young man and several people were having an animated conversation about the good and the bad of Obamacare. They were shouting at each other, and getting nowhere except louder. So I stepped in, and explained to this young man how the costs were expected to skyrocket under the ACA. He didn’t believe it (“What? Taxes??”) because Obama promised to lower the cost of health care. As others tried to shout over me, he continued to look me in the eye, and he listened as I shot down every lie that he was told and believed. After about 15 minutes, he said, “I’m going to go home and think of all the things you just said. You and I–we can talk. I’m glad we had this conversation.” We shook hands and parted. So, they CAN be convinced, or at least they will listen. We just have to maintain our cool and be prepared with the truth and the consequences of an action. Sure, subsidies are great for low-income earners. Or so it looks. But is it fair for others to pick up the tab?
I understand my niece’s perspective; immigration is a difficult topic because of the empathy we feel for those who had no choice in coming here and grew up “American” as a result. But as adults, we have to make tough choices, and not everyone comes away a winner.

5 years ago

(Some clever person should come up with a mnemonic to assist us older people when trying to remember all the good things this president has done.)
At Christmas dinner, my young niece asked how I could vote for Mr. Trump, knowing all the bad press he had gotten concerning his past treatment of women. I mentioned Lisa Bloom and how that fell flat on its face. Then, “I’M NOT VOTING FOR THE CHARACTER OF THE MAN; I’M VOTING FOR THE CHARACTER OF THE NATION.” …..Boom.
She and I then had a very civil discussion on immigration, tax reform, welfare, small business, the Constitution, and other issues that demonstrate merit in individual responsibility, accountability, and self-regulation. Others joined in, and I do believe she came away with a deeper perspective.
Happy, Happy New Year everyone!

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