Donald Trump was elected to Office by the people on the promise of bringing about comprehensive change, more jobs, and transferring the power back to the citizens. Listed below are some of the achievements of President Donald Trump after the six month period, and its comparison with former President Barack Obama and other former Presidents.
The Approval Ratings
Trump has the lowest popularity ratings among all the presidents of the modern era. After spending 6 months in the White House, his approval rating is very low at 39 percent.
During this period in office, the approval ratings of President Obama and of President George W Bush were 56 percent. One has to go back as far as 1975 and the presidency of Gerald Ford to find the approval ratings to be as low as President Trump’s. After 6 months as President, Ford also had approval ratings of 39 percent. This was due to his act of pardoning his predecessor President Richard Nixon for ‘Watergate.’
It may however be noted that the disapproval rating of President Trump is higher than even Ford. Trump’s disapproval rating after 6 months in office is at 56 percent, while Ford had 45 percent disapproval ratings.
On 20th January, Trump had the lowest approval rating of any president assuming office for the first time. He had won the presidential elections with really low approval numbers. Hence, it is not that alarming that his ratings have remained anemic.
The White House may however need to worry about the fact that the President is losing support even among his core base, which include rural Americans and white men with no college education.
If the ratings continue to remain poor or slip further down, then it can have an impact for the Republicans in the November 2018 Congress elections.
Trump and the Economy
President Trump had promised during the election campaign that he would create 25 million jobs over the next decade and would thus be remembered as “The greatest jobs President.. Ever.”
He had claimed that the real rate of unemployment was much higher at over 40 percent than that claimed by the Obama administration. Now as the President, he is quoting the same figures of unemployment as was stated by his predecessor, and which were dismissed by him as being ‘phony.’
The current state of the economy and its growth remains the same as was under President Obama. The jobs market bounced back after President Obama took office and created numerous new jobs. It has stayed steady so far under the new President. The 4.4 percent rate of joblessness has dropped down to a 16 year low and after 81 successive months of progress and growth, full employment is not very distant.
The stock markets and other indexes have reached record highs, consumer confidence is high, oil prices have remained low, and inflation is effectively under control. However, there has been steady drop in retail and auto sales. Wage growth also continues to be lagging.
A growth target of three percent was set by President Trump’s administration. However, the chairwoman of the US Federal Reserve has been skeptical of this target. Since 2001, there has been an average growth of below 2 percent per year, and in the first quarter of 2017 the economy has managed to grow only at 1.4 percent.
Trump and Immigration
One of the main election campaign promises of President Trump was changing immigration laws. He had declared during the elections that a physical wall would be built by the US on the US-Mexico border and that Mexico would pay for the wall.
After six months, no construction work has begun on the wall. This is because the Congress has to approve the funds needed for building the wall, and the house is unwilling to do so. Also, the leaders of Mexico have continuously remained steadfast that they will not pay for the wall.
The President has however signed many executive orders, including the ‘Travel Ban’, that curb immigration into the US. He also imposed restrictions on work visas given to Indian tech workers, so that more jobs are available for American tech workers.
There has been no change in the immigration laws as yet. President Trump has however signed 2 executive memos which provide instructions to officers from immigration to take stronger steps towards enforcing the current immigration provisions and measures.
As per John Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary, the number of individuals who were caught while trying to cross into the US from Mexico dropped to its lowest level in seventeen years in March. The Secretary stated that such a fall in illegal immigration was not a coincidence. The Customs and Border Protection agency also stated that the executive orders of the President were responsible for the visible change in the border-crossing trend.
It may however be noted that illegal immigrants also faced severe crackdown under the Presidency of Obama, even more than President Trump. The administration of the former President had deported over 2.5 million illegal immigrants between 2009 and 2015. A large percentage of these deported people had been convicted in some kind of criminal activity or had recently entered the US. Such harsh treatment of illegal immigrants by President Obama had caused many to label him as the ‘deporter-in-chief.’
Despite all of the above, nearly eleven million undocumented immigrants continue to reside in the US and a large percentage of them are from Mexico.
After the election of President Trump, The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency carried out many raids all over the US. Such raids saw a 40 percent per month spike under President Trump as compared to the latter half of President Obama’s tenure. However, the raids haven’t resulted in increased deportations. On the contrary, over 600,000 cases against deportation are currently awaiting a review in immigration courts.
Bills signed and Orders passed by President Trump
President Trump recently stated that he has signed and passed more bills through the house than any other previous president. This is however far from the truth. At the end of the six months, the White House website shows that 42 bills have been signed by the President so far. Data gathered from different sources show that the average number of bills passed by the last 6 Presidents is 43. During the first half of the first year of Presidency, Clinton had signed 50 bills, Bush 20, and Obama 39.
President Trump at 42 signed bills is slightly ahead of President Obama. However, it may be noted that the former President also had to grapple with the recession and financial crisis of 2008 and had successfully been able to sign and pass the $800 billion bailout package. Also, many of the bills signed by President Trump seem to be insignificant on a national scale, such as appointment of people to a museum board or renaming a structure in Nashville.
Executive orders and memos are usually the options that President Trump has used till now to exercise and wield political power in some policy areas and thus bypass the Congress’ legislative processes. He has used such unilateral orders to cut regulations on business, withdraw from the TPP or Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and give permission for construction of 2 contentious pipelines, i.e., the Dakota Access pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline.
The Trump Presidency has also been detrimental for climate. He has famously stated that ‘Global Warming’ and ‘Climate Change’ is a hoax and he followed through on this thought process by dismantling several of the climate protection laws initiated by the Obama administration. President Trump order to reverse the ‘Clean Power Plan’; he ended the regulations meant for protection of the waterways from waste of coal mines; and Trump signed an order for reconsideration of the ‘Waters of the United States rule’ of the ‘Clean Water Act’ by the Army Corp of Engineers and the EPA. His most far-reaching unilateral action against the environment was his decision to pull out of the globally recognized Paris climate agreement.
Trump and Healthcare
Healthcare was another major campaign promise of President Trump. He had vowed to repeal and replace Obamacare after getting elected as the President.
It may be noted that the Affordable Care Act/ACA/Obamacare has helped over 20 million Americans with no insurance to at last get health coverage. However, it has also suffered from increasing premiums.
The house passed the House Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. The house passed the bill despite a negative assessment by the nonpartisan federal agency, i.e., the CBO/Congressional Budget Office, which stated that the new bill would lead to loss of insurance of 24 million Americans by the year 2026. The bill was also opposed by hospitals, doctors’ groups, and other sections of the medical sector with the growing fear that millions would end up becoming uninsured.
The Senate version of the bill was also widely criticized. It was further hindered by opposition from both sides of the Republican Party; conservatives did not like the fact that the bill retained a large chunk of the ACA, while moderates felt that the bill would entail cuts to Medicaid which was a health program for the poor.
The lack of support for the Senate bill meant that it could not even be brought to the floor for voting. President Trump stated that he was ‘disappointed’ by the outcome and asked the party to allow the current legislation to cease and die.
Mid-term elections are around the corner in 2018. Hence, any moves by the White House to reduce funds to the subsidies of the program can be risky, particularly as different polling indicate that there is growing support for the ACA.
The Republican Party controls both the houses of Congress and the Presidency for the first time in eleven years. Thus the Obamacare repeal and replace debacle is really embarrassing for both the party and the President.