This Saturday will be the 100th day of the Trump presidency.
“No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!” the president tweeted April 21.
The president typically tweets about things that trouble or glorify him. Why then is he tweeting about this? Simply put, he knows that he and the GOP-controlled Congress have blown a historic opportunity.
The Republicans have spent at least seven years setting up this position. They took over state legislatures just in time for the census and redrew the congressional districts to effectively guarantee them control of the House of Representatives for the next decade. They fought and obstructed their way into the majority in the Senate.
They prevented the filing of a Supreme Court seat for almost a year on the gamble that they would get to select Antonin Scalia’s successor. And now they control the presidency. Throughout all of this, they based much of their platform on the premise that they had a better plan than what was being offered by the Democrats. Of course, because one branch of government was always out of their control, they always had an excuse as to why they hadn’t implemented it yet. But that is not an excuse anymore.
With such extraordinary control of the government, and the amount of organization and planning that went into acquiring it, one would presume that the GOP government would be pushing legislation through like a well-oiled printing press. But instead, the most significant pieces of legislation that have been passed have made it easier for mentally ill people to buy guns, transferred control of internet privacy from the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission, and used the Congressional Review Act to void an unprecedented 23 regulations.
By Republican standards, this is actually pretty small pickings. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), is still the law of the land. Tax reform is still in committee. And this is just what the legislature has failed to fulfill.
The president created a 100-day agenda; his “contract with the American voter.” He promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, create massive infrastructure bills, eliminate Common Core, tax reform, build the wall, crack down on sanctuary cities, enact his “extreme vetting” and label China a currency manipulator. All of these have either gone nowhere or have been blocked by the courts.
His most meaningful “accomplishments” are those he was able to do without much need for congressional support: unilaterally pulling us out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and nominating a conservative to the Supreme Court that required a rule change to get confirmed. Otherwise, anything that requires deal making has been sunk.
So why all this focus on the first 100 days? For those who don’t know, the first 100 days of any administration’s term are always the most crucial. This began with Franklin Roosevelt, who saw his first 100 days as crucial to the success of his agenda. This is not entirely unreasonable, as this period is typically a honeymoon period where no one will be running for reelection yet, and the goodwill of the voters is still high. As a result, items on the legislative agenda can move through the legislator with more ease than at other times.
Obama for example had passed sweeping financial regulation reform, passed the stimulus, and helped turn the nation back from the brink of a second depression. Knowing this, Trump put forward his 100-day plan during the campaign. But when asked about it recently, he tried to distance himself from it. Why? Because he knows he blew it.
By any objective metric, regardless of what you think of his policies and plans, President Trump has wasted a golden opportunity. He is seeing that the GOP, plagued by infighting once kept dormant by a mutual hatred of Obama, is not ready to govern. It is easy to protest but much harder to create change or actually “drain the swamp.” Faced by a potential government shutdown unheard of when one party controls all branches of government, he was forced to retract his down payment on his border wall.
And for once, Republicans can do little to blame the Democrats. Though they do not have a supermajority in the Senate, a little deal-making could get the eight votes the GOP needs to steamroll through legislation. Though they have some internal divides, deals could still be made to help bring them together on tax and healthcare reform. All sorts of deals could be had for the GOP with all the power it currently should be able to wield. If only Republicans had helped elect a man who supposedly wrote the book on making deals.