The greatest accomplishment of Trump’s First 100 days may have been setting a new floor for disgust with a 54% disapproval rating compared to 28%, 30%, and 37% for Obama, Bush, and Clinton respectively at the same point. Donald Trump was right when he (most recently) called The First 100 Days an “artificial barrier with little meaning”, but there are real lessons to learn from the First 100 Days of any administration. The lessons from Trump’s First 100 were confirmed by the ongoing Tax Reform negotiations and the House’s TrumpCare bill, and they don’t bode well for anyone going forward. But the biggest lesson may need to be learned by the Democrats, and if they don’t learn it fast then the Trumpocracy won’t just last four years but four more to come…
The First 100 days of a Presidency is no more a “meaningful” milestone than the first 90 or 110, and the remaining 1360 days give plenty of time to improve… or get worse. But by now we’ve had a chance to watch an administration deal with foreign and domestic issues, seen their actual governing priorities, and had a good look at their leadership of both political players and people at large. As Trump marked his First 100 Days he was truly King of the Hill… a blazing dung heap of shattered promises and kept promises, embarrassing gaffes, flamboyant incompetence, wild incoherence, inept propaganda, collusion and unabashed cronyism, showpiece executive orders and flaccid legislation, bigotry, shameless self-promotion, pointless golf excursions, abdication, lies, doublespeak, unsupported allegations, and of course so much more. But it’s not productive to wallow in how bad he’s been; what lessons can we learn for the future? Trump’s First 100 Days teach us to expect vague and conflicting policies, highlighted by giveaways to the very richest, justified by flawed logic in conflict with basic reality, defended with lies and obfuscation, and hyped as success whether successful or not. Does that match with what we’re seeing so far?
Well, Tax Reform is being billed as relief for the Middle Class with “the biggest tax cut ever”, but that’s flawed logic. The Middle Class suffers from shrinkage in our paychecks, not the taxes taken out of them. The current 25% tax rate on a $52,000 income is $13,000, so if taxes were cut in half you’d have an extra $6500 each year. That’s not insignificant, but would it change your life? Doesn’t matter; the tax bracket for $52,000 would remain unchanged in the current proposal. However, the cronyism and giveaways of the First 100 Days shine at the top end of the scale where the tax rate on the highest incomes would drop from 39.6% to 35%. Even worse, most income of the top 1% isn’t from wages at all but from capital gains, which are already taxed much less than wage income. Under the Trump plan the capital gains tax would drop even lower, from 23.8% to 20%, and corporate income tax would drop from 35% to 15%. The idea that these cuts could pay for themselves without offsets is in conflict with basic reality. Economists see a $4-$10 TRILLION dollar addition to the deficit from the plan as proposed. To pay for it our economy would need sustained growth at 4.5%, which is almost universally considered impossible. It’s well over twice our current 1.8% growth rate, and though we only reached 4% growth in the industrial boom of the late 60’s Trump says it’s possible because he says it’s possible. The First 100 Days teach us that’s a very weak peg to hang our national economy on.
The same First 100 Days’ lessons were on display in the vague and conflicting TrumpCare bill. TrumpCare was dead until the Republicans, embarrassed by the early failure of their President, thrashed around for something that could pass as a First 100 Day Victory. They resurrected the bill, made a couple deals, and rammed it through without even token consideration. Nothing in the changes points toward covering either more people, more reliably, or at lower cost, in fact quite the reverse (though the CBO promises to have its review out the week of May 22). Yet the repeal of ObamaCare was loudly celebrated by the Republicans as though it were a real victory. Right on track with the lessons of the First 100.
While we can all learn from Trump’s First 100 Days, the group (aside from the Trump administration) needing to learn the most may be learning the least… the Democrats. The same poll that found a 54% disapproval rating for Trump asked respondents who they would vote for in a Clinton/Trump rematch, and Trump actually won 43% to 40%! With the Republicans controlling all levers of government the Democrats are relegated to an opposition party with little real power, but they’d best learn soon and completely that saying “no” is not enough. “Not being Trump” was not enough for Hillary to win, and pointing out that Trump’s policies are vacuous and deluded will not be enough to sweep out his minions in 2018 or The Man himself in 2020. The Democrats will need to propose actual policies to replace Trumpism. So much the better if they’re practical, useful, and fundable, but they at least need to be clear and coherent so people realize there is an alternative to Alternative Reality. There’s a lot to learn from Trump’s First 100, but if we don’t learn the right lessons then we’ll be marking the milestone again four years from now.
Take Care and Make a Great Day!
President Trump’s First 100 Days, White House Website, Apr 2017
100 days: America in a time of Trump, by Nick Bryant on BBC News, Apr 2017
#PolitiFact100: Tracking Trump’s promises in the first 100 days, by Aaron Sharockman on PolitiFact, Apr 2017
Don’t Count on 4% Growth, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Dec 2016
Trump’s tax cut plan only pays for itself with growth in ‘fairyland’, John Schoen on CNBC, Apr 2017
A Tax Plan That Befits the ‘King of Debt’, Russell Berman in The Atlantic, Apr 2017
How Will Trump Pay for That Huge Tax Cut?, by David Katz in CFO Magazine, Nov 2016
Reckless in the White House, by Vijay Prashad on CounterPunch, Apr 2017
Think Trump didn’t achieve much in his first 100 days? Think again., by Lindsay Wise on McClatchyDC, Apr 2017
Has Trump kept his campaign promises?, by Anthony Zurcher on BBC News, Apr 2017
Trump’s America: Are voters impressed?, by Rajini Vaidyanathan on BBC News, Apr 2017
These are the 100-day accomplishments Trump is touting, by Jim Acosta on CNN Politics, Apr 2017
Here’s what conservative historians are saying about Trump’s first 100 days in office, by Charles Dewey on History News Network, Apr 2017
History of measuring presidents’ first 100 days, by Kevin Liptak on CNN Politics, Apr 2017
How do Donald Trump’s first 100 days rate historically?, by Louis Jacobson on PolitiFact, Apr 2017
Already a Big Gap Between Trump’s Promises to the Middle Class and his Policies, by Josh Bivens on Moyers&Company, Nov 2016
Nearing 100-day Mark, Trump Says Milestone Not ‘Meaningful’, by Julie Pace on The Associated Press, Apr 2017
100 days of Trump and we’re already tired of winning, by Clete Wetli on AL.com, Apr 2017
Trump’s Tax Plan Is a Massive Giveaway to the Wealthy Few, by AFL-CIO Staff on AFL-CIO Website, Apr 2017
‘This sh*t is hard’: Leak reveals Trump team spent first 100 days learning that governing isn’t easy, by Travis Gettys on RawStory, Apr 2017
Americans size up Trump’s first 100 days in Post-ABC poll, by Chiqui Esteban and Scott Clement in The Washington Post, Apr 2017
2 major new polls show Trump will conclude his first 100 days as the least popular president in modern history, by Maxwell Tani on Business Insider, Apr 2017
Economists Fear Trump’s Tax Plan Only Heightens a ‘Mountain of Debt’, by James Stewart in The New York Times, Apr 2017
How Trump’s budget cuts could hurt low-income Americans, by Jeanne Sahadi on CNN Money, Mar 2017
How Trump’s new tax reform proposal may affect every income bracket, by Tom Anderson on CNBC, Apr 2017
Worst. 100 Days. Ever., by John Feffer on Foreign Policy in Focus, Apr 2017
Nearing 100 days Trump’s approval is at record lows but his base is holding, Washington Post, Apr 2017