Trump’s presidency so far

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Trump’s presidency so far

Noah Moore, Staff Writer

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Donald Trump’s presidency began on January 20, 2017, marking yesterday the midway point of this presidential term. The Optimist wishes to remain objective regarding the administration, so our assessment shall be conducted based on his key campaign promises and general presidential goals.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act

A central focus of President Trump’s 2016 campaign was his intent of repealing the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), colloquially known as Obamacare. The ACA had been a source of ire among Republicans since its introduction, and Trump made its rescission a priority.

Efforts to completely repeal the ACA have been unsuccessful, as various replacement plans have failed to pass through Congress. The most memorable of these various bills were the “skinny bill” that was rejected narrowly in the Senate in July of 2017, and the Graham-Cassidy Bill, which was rejected in September of the same year. In both instances, the late Senator John McCain was the deciding vote. Since then, comprehensive plans to remove and replace the ACA have not gained traction in Congress.

Despite this, the Trump Administration has made various efforts to limit and restrict the scope and ability of the ACA. According to a 2018 Government Accountability Office report, the administration has made efforts to scale back some of the ACA’s outreach and education programs. The administration has also notably consolidated more responsibility for accessibility and regulation to the state level rather than the federal.

The ACA remains, much to the chagrin of the Trump Administration, but efforts to repeal will likely continue for the rest of the term.

Tax Cuts

Another central issue in Trump’s campaign was his pledge to cut taxes, and this is an area of success for his administration. In December of 2017, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which lowered taxes for 80 percent of individual filers. It also doubles the standard deduction, eliminates personal exemptions and slashes the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 27 percent. This tax cut was the fourth largest cut in the past fifty years.

The Border Wall

Likely the most notorious objective of the Trump Administration is the erection of a large wall at the southern border of the United States. Chants of “build that wall” would often fill the rallies during Trump’s campaign.

However, despite Trump’s best efforts, funding for the wall has not been approved by Congress. That issue is directly responsible for the current government shutdown, notably the longest shutdown under the modern congressional budgeting process, which began in 1976. Plans for the wall are stalled at the moment, and it will be some time before one can know what will happen.

General Foreign Policy

Trump has authored atypical foreign policy compared to recent presidents, notably by being friendlier with countries like Russia and North Korea. Here are a number of notable foreign policy moments in the past two years:

  • June 2017: Leaving the Paris Agreement
  • June 2017: Rolling back ties with Cuba
  • December 2017: Recognizing Jerusalem
  • March-December 2018: Imposing tariffs on China
  • May 2018: Withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal
  • June 2018: Meeting Kim Jong-Un in Singapore
  • June 2018: Withdrawing from UN Human Rights Council
  • September 2018: Negotiating a new NAFTA agreement

Supreme Court Justices

One hope of the Trump Administration was that they would be able to appoint multiple Supreme Court Justices during the presidency, as many justices were old and nearing retirement during the campaign. Since Trump’s inauguration, two Justices have already been replaced. Judge Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016, was replaced by Judge Neil Gorsuch in April of 2017. Judge Anthony Kennedy retired in July of 2018 and was replaced with Judge Brett Kavanaugh in October of 2018.

Approval Ratings

Approval and disapproval ratings are hardly effective tools for measuring the success of a particular administration, but a report on the state of a presidential administration would hardly be complete without acknowledging the numbers. As of Jan. 20, FiveThirtyEight reports roughly a 40 percent approval rating and 55.2 percent disapproval rating of Trump and his administration. These numbers obviously have wavered over the past two years, but overall the current numbers are not too far from the average approval ratings.

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