Trump’s First 100 Days: Wins, Losses, and What Could Be Next
Tomorrow will mark President Trump’s 100th day in office, capping what has simultaneously been a whirlwind and a standstill start to the Commander in Chief’s tenure. On the policy front, Trump has seen legal challenges to his executive orders, delays on the much-touted wall along the Mexican border, and suffered an embarrassing setback in Congress where Republicans failed to gather the votes needed to repeal and replace Obamacare despite having majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives. At the same time, one major part of Trump’s legacy has now been cemented as his pick to serve on the United State Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed to the bench after a rule change allowed the GOP to avoid a filibuster. But, putting aside the President’s numerous controversies over the first 100 days, the real question is how the U.S. economy has performed and will perform under Trump’s watch.
On that note, the President may be off to a slow start as the first-quarter economic report shows the weakest growth in three years. As Reuters reports, gross domestic product (GDP) increase at a 0.7% annual rate, which is the worst performance since 2014. Although that might sound bad, the news service notes that the first quarter growth is “not a true picture of the economy’s health.” In fact, economists that Reuters spoke to suggested that President Trump can still fulfill his promise of 4% GDP growth for the year.
In terms of what’s in the economic pipeline, following the aforementioned setback Republicans and the President faced on healthcare — a topic they vow to revisit — the next big policy change on the docket is tax reform. Earlier this week Trump revealed some details on his plan to simplify the U.S. tax code. This starts with reducing the number of brackets from seven to just three: 10%, 25%, and 35%. Additionally his plan calls for doubling the standard deduction, which means, as National Economic Director Gary Cohn explained, “Married couple will not have to pay taxes on the first $24,000 it earns.” While other notable plan elements include eliminating both the alternative minimum tax and inheritance tax, lowering capital gains taxes, and ending the federal tax deduction for state and local income tax, perhaps the biggest proposal is slashing corporate taxes from 35% to 15%.
As you’d expect, Trump’s tax plan has drawn both praise and criticism from those in various circles. One of the biggest complaints levied against the plan is that it doesn’t include any way to pay for the cuts, which would lead to even more national debt. However others argue that the way to attack the deficit is to cut spending, not to maintain higher taxes. Still, with those on both sides of the aisle voicing their concerns, it once again raises the question of whether such a plan could actually pass in Congress. Of course, as Trump has touted numerous times on the campaign trail and in the White House, he is a negotiator.
Finally, while growing hostilities between North Korea and the U.S. have claimed the attention of many Americans (especially those living along the Pacific Coast), economic tensions between the United States and its northern neighbor have started to show themselves as well. With Trump softening his rhetoric on Mexico and China, which were both seen as potential trade war targets in the early days of the administration, the President now says he plans to instate a 20% tariff on softwood lumber from Canada while also calling out the Canadian dairy industry. Not only does this action threaten to spoil the United States’ relationship with Canada but, as Fortune notes, could also serve to harm the American housing market and raise the price of a new home. However, once again, some see this as part of a play in trying to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) the President has previously threatened to rip up.
In his first 100 days, President Donald Trump has certainly had a tenure unlike any other in recent memory. With previous pledges falling by the wayside and new causes (like Canada) cropping up in the President’s plans, it’s been as difficult as ever to predict what might happen next. As the President even admitted, the job is not quite what he expected, leaving the rest of us to only wonder what we can expect over the next 1,361 days.