Sunday, April 30, 2017

Read: what impact has Trump had over his first hundred days?

The general upshot is that Trump has had the most impact with selection of personnel (Gorsuch, Cabinet members, etc), rollback of environmental and labor regulations, curtailing of illegal immigration, and in a general erosion of norms.  If you want more depth, the New York Times and FiveThirtyEight have good roundups of the Trump presidency so far, giving us the 20,000-foot view on everything:

More narrowly, a Politico article points out something I've been shouting for months:  "Trump’s Executive Orders Are Mostly Theater" (by Michael Grunwald).  Thanks to our strong institutions, which have resisted many of Trump's excesses, the flurry of executive orders have had very little impact.  They command staffers to examine things, form commissions, and so on.
... Trump’s high-profile orders have not actually undone Obama’s health reforms, financial regulations, or carbon restrictions. They’ve merely allowed him to announce his intentions to undo those policies in official documents. Trump’s first 30 executive orders will create a lot of federal reviews and reports, along with some new task forces and commissions, but not a lot of substantive change. So far, they’ve been more about messaging than governing, proclaiming his priorities without really advancing his priorities.
Politico also has a fun article about numbers: "President Trump's First Hundred Days, by the Numbers," by Nolan McCaskill and Louis Nelson.  Highlights include: nineteen days of golf, thirty-one days spent at a Trump property (almost a third!)... and zero major legislative victories.

And finally, the Washington Post has an article ("After a Tumultuous Start, Trump Hopes for a Smoother Agenda on Jobs and Taxes," by Abby Phillip and Ed O'Keefe) about how the president will be adjusting his strategy moving forward.  Purportedly, they're going to be moving forward more carefully:
Humbled by their failure on health care, White House aides say they have taken a lesson from the experience and plan to take the lead on the tax-reform effort — including a Trump-led push to build public and stakeholder support for a plan. The bill will be guided by the principles laid out Wednesday in a single-page document that outlined the president’s plan to slash rates and consolidate tax brackets for most taxpayers, aides said.
Everything in reality seems to belie this spin, however.  After all, that single-page document was itself the hasty and rushed result of a surprise announcement by a mercurial leader -- and it indicates that the administration has not yet tackled any of the serious issues of tax reform.  Given the continued difficulties with repealing Obamacare, it seems to be outright hubris for the Trump administration to think that tax reform will be easier.

In other words, they don't really seem to have learned exactly the limits of their own knowledge.  And since that's the most important lesson of all, it's hard to see how they're going to be more successful in the future.

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