Friday 17 November 2017

Trump's biggest achievements and failures a year since his election

U.S. President Donald Trump Photo: Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump Photo: Reuters

Mythili Sampathkumar

US President Donald Trump made several promises on the campaign trail in the contentious, often dramatic 2016 US election, as politicians are wont to do.

But, it was precisely because of the nature of the election that added emphasis on his promises like having Mexico pay for a border wall, eliminating Obama-era environmental regulations, and of course - healthcare reform.

Here is a look at what Mr Trump has been able to achieve legislatively, what he has not, and what is still a work in progress one year after winning a stunning election.

“Lock her up” - Failure

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Hillary Clinton. Image: AP Photo/Matt Rourke
 

Referring to Hillary Clinton as “Crooked Hillary” has become the norm for the President on his Twitter account.

Mr Trump has repeatedly brought up the former Secretary of State’s private email server used for government emails while she was in office and maligned former FBI Director James Comey - whom he fired in May - for not further pursuing the investigation.

Mr Comey said the bureau had determined Ms Clinton had done no wrongdoing and no classified emails had been on the private server.

That argument has given way to attacks on Ms Clinton’s role in a 2010 deal giving a Russian firm control of 20 per cent of US uranium.

As Snopes.com reported, she “played a part in the transaction insofar as it involved the transfer of ownership of a material deemed important to national security - uranium, amounting to...one-tenth of [US] uranium production capacity in 2017 - thus requiring the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), on which the US Secretary of State sits.”

Mr Trump also pushed the false claim that the deal was done by Ms Clinton in exchange for $145m in contributions to the Clinton Foundation.

Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement - Achieved

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Stock image
 

He withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change, signed by nearly 200 countries in December 2015 in an attempt to curb greenhouse gas emissions and contain global warming to 2C.

Mr Trump said the accord put American workers, particularly the almost 80,000 in the coal industry, at an “economic disadvantage.”

It was met with immediate, global criticism and left the US in the company of Syria and Nicaragua as the only non-signatories.

However, the Central American nation - called a “renewable energy paradise” by the World Bank because it runs nearly 50 per cent of its power on solar, wind, and energy - felt the agreement did not go far enough and was unfair to poorer nations who were suffering climate damage as the result of richer countries’ climate ignorance.

Both countries have since signed on to the agreement, now leaving the US alone.

Travel Ban - Still to do

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Trump's travel ben: countries affected
 

During the campaign, Mr Trump had crowds rallying around his idea for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on."

During his first week in office, the President followed through and implemented a travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries from entering the US: Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Iran.

The result was rampant chaos and thousands of protesters at American airports as well as lawyers offering free assistance to affected travellers.

Federal courts in Hawaii and California put a hold on the travel ban citing that it was unconstitutional to discriminate against these legal travellers based on their religion.

A second version was drafted but omitted Iraq over objections from several regarding the status of Iraqis who fought for and helped the US military during the war.

This too was challenged in district courts but ultimately allowed to go through - in part - by the Supreme Court, which has since lapsed.

A third travel ban was then drafted to include travellers from North Korea and Venezuela in order to argue against the racial discrimination accusation and Sudan - much to the confusion of policy experts - was left off the ban.

In its place, Chad was added to the list and the White House said it was due to the African nation's lack of proper immigration record-keeping. Chad is a frequent partner and ally of the US military in the fight against terrorism in the region.

This ban has also been challenged and blocked in federal district courts in Hawaii and Maryland. The appeals process to take it up to the Supreme Court has begun.

Read More: Inside Melania Trump's high fashion Asia tour wardrobe - at €15k and counting

Making Mexico pay for the border wall - Failure

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Contractors have completed eight prototypes of President Donald Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico (AP Photo/Elliott Spagat)
 

The nearly 2,000-mile border wall with Mexico was a rallying cry during Trump campaign rallies throughout 2016 as the President repeatedly, vehemently promised potential voters that Mexico would be paying for it.

However, when it came time to draw up a federal budget proposal the administration added line items for construction models and said costs could vary.

Many estimates put the cost of the wall at closer to $25bn to account for repairs, new construction, materials, labour, land acquisition,and various terrain.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox famously offered current President Enrique Pena Nieto some advice when he said on CNN: “you could use my words, ‘We’ll never pay for that f****** wall.”

Repealing and replacing Obamacare - Still to do

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The Trump administration is taking aim at the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare (AP)
 

Getting rid of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, was not only central to the Trump campaign but practically every Republican who ran for office last year.

However, the reality of drafting a bill that would receive a good “score” from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that rates how many people would lose insurance as a result and the overall impact on the federal budget proved to be problematic.

Between Republican party dissidents first in the House’s Freedom Caucus, then objections from Senators John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins, and leaks of reported tension between House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Mr Trump - the effort to repeal and replace has hit a roadblock.

The President has stuck to his line as the White House attempted to stymie outreach and promotion efforts and cut the 2018 open enrollment period for Obamacare in half - 1 November to 15 December.

Despite that, more than 200,000 Americans signed up on 1 November - double the number of people that enrolled the same day in 2016.

Visitors to Healthcare.gov also reached a record one million visitors that day.

Read More: Trump's warning to North Korea: 'Do not underestimate us and do not try us'

Being a champion for LGBT rights - Failure

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University of California, Davis students protest on campus in Davis, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Max Whittaker/File Photo
 

In July 2016, Mr Trump tweeted to the LGBT community that he would “fight for you” and that Ms Clinton would be a disaster for them.

In January, the White House had announced that LGBTQ rights in the federal government, including protections outlined in orders signed by Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, would "remain intact".

However, the administration’s track record has no signs of fighting for equal rights.

One example is how Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services rolled back a 2014 rule recognising same-sex marriage when it came to visitation rights in long-term care facilities.

The Department of Commerce tried to sneak in new language in the federal government’s daily journal excluding LGBT federal workers from workplace protections and eliminating crucial Census questions regarding sexual orientation.

Then, there was the controversy over Mr Trump’s executive order banning transgender people from serving in the US military - a move that ultimately gave Defence Secretary James Mattis six months to draft a plan for implementation.

Decertifying the Iran nuclear deal - Achieved

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Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (AP)
 

Under the Obama administration deal, Iran had agreed to curtail its nuclear programme if some relief could be provided on economic sanctions.

“This deal if I win will be a totally different deal. This will be a totally different deal,” Mr Trump said on the campaign trail.

Though Mr Trump did not fully withdraw from the deal, he did not re-certify the deal per the October deadline. The administration had certified it twice before.

Ninety-day updates on Iran’s progress and whether sanctions relief is still in the best interest of US national security are required by Congress.

The administration is now working with Congress and allies to "address the deal's many serious flaws," as Mr Trump characterised them.

In the meantime, sanctions could be reinstated and the deal could be dead from Iran’s view.

Improving the economy - Still to do

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US Dollars
 

It could be argued that Mr Trump has already improved the economy, with his several tweets showing a rising stock market and good jobs numbers as evidence.

The Dow Jones and other indices have reached or are near record highs, according to the New York Times.

Experts have warned that this may be a misleading uptick that began during Barack Obama’s administration.

The same would apply to the down economy during the first few years of Mr Obama’s administration which was a holdover from George W Bush’s administration.

Companies and investors may still be spurred by the hope of deregulations and the tax reform Mr Trump and his team have been promising as well.

However, wages have not increased, particularly for those voters in counties that went for Trump in the election.

The issue is now whether Mr Trump can deliver on tax reform to continue this growth and spur higher wages for those who need it the most.

Independent News Service

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