This weekend marks 100 days of the Trump presidency, or as the latest Simpsons parody referenced it “we are 6.8% of the way home”. Often considered an important period for getting things done before election goodwill and hype fade, and campaigning for midterms begins to distract concerned politicians. But perhaps this expectation is exaggerated, especially when held up to standard Franklin D Roosevelt set in pushing through his ‘New Deal’ in the midst of the Great Depression and strong opposition from Republicans and corporations. Also the increasing challenge of getting hundreds of nominations confirmed by the Senate, especially with the less experienced team Trump is fielding, makes substantive progress difficult in these early days; Trump still only has 25 of 58 senior government positions confirmed to date. Nevertheless it’s important that the nation has a clearer picture of where the Government is heading in the next four years and that groundwork is laid for systematically driving policy legislation through, what is currently, a majority Republican House and Senate.
Importantly however Trump’s first three months in office have fallen far short, not only of predecessors’ achievements, but of his own campaign’s ‘100-day action plan to Make America Great Again’. Measuring the Administration’s performance against its own campaign promises and benchmark of 28 goals is perhaps a fairer comparison. His broader goals were as follows with a score of how many of each he has thus far fulfilled: clean up the corruption in Washington (2/6), protect American workers (3/7), restore security and the constitutional rule of law (1/5). Moreover of the 10 ‘broader legislative measures [to] fight for their passage within the first 100 days’ only one has been introduced with three others seeing slight progress. This is a total score of 6/28, just over a 20% success rate (that is if one is generous enough to rate each goal’s achievement equally).
The only broader legislation that was introduced, to ‘Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act’, embarrassingly didn’t even make it to a vote. This failure in particular might be considered the largest setback, as it is effectively a cornerstone for many of his other deficit increasing legislative aspirations, including importantly his ‘Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act’. These proposals which we started hearing about yesterday will face even tougher opposition from a large section of Republicans unwilling to allow further tax cutting or debt fuelled spending, without the counterbalance of a cut in government healthcare spending and apparent inefficiencies.
Reasons for the unmet goals are varied. Some like opposing ‘sanctuary cities’ and suspending ‘immigration from terror-prone regions’ have been challenged by the courts. Other promises Trump has backtracked on, like ‘labelling China a currency manipulator’, and today confirming that the US would not withdraw from NAFTA but push Mexico and Canada harder for better trading terms: a welcome move.
The Administration still has a further nine months to push through some significant accomplishments in their first year and one can expect more of these original policy goals will be met by then. But the most significant ones relating to financial market seem increasingly beyond reach. Anecdotally the 29th April, Trump’s 100th day, is also the deadline for Congress and Trump to agree on funding measures. On the off chance this isn’t achieved a Government shutdown would only add to the embarrassment of an Administration clearly still struggling to find its pace.