How did the Trump administration do in the first year of making America great again? For supporters, no explanation is needed. For those who do not support the administration, no explanation is possible. So whether this year-end recap is good or bad depends on one’s perspective.
Justice Neil Gorsuch was a huge appointment to the Supreme Court. But most may have missed that Trump set a record for the most federal judges appointed to the bench in the first year of a presidency with 12. President Obama appointed three, Bush six and Kennedy appointed 11.
The Bureau of Labor and Fortune magazine reports the unemployment rate is the lowest rate since 2007. The rate climbed from 7.8 to 10 percent during the Obama administration, but fell to 4.8 percent by the time Obama left office and has continued to fall. So the unemployment rate and the rising-wage rate both pre-date Trump.
Historic stock market increases are a closer tie to an administration though. CNN reported the Dow rose nearly 6,000 points after Trump’s election with more than 80 record highs. It made another surge after tax cuts were announced and hit a record of 23,000.
One of the administrations most far-reaching accomplishments this year is regulatory reform. Almost immediately the administration imposed a 2 for 1 rule requiring two regulations be eliminated for every one enacted. The red tape in Washington is getting cut. The rule enabled administrators to over deliver, eliminating 22 regulations for every new one enacted. The Office of Management and Budget estimates rolling back federal regulations will save $8.1 billion in associated costs.
Trump has signed 96 bills into law. Obama signed about 124 his first year, Bush 109 and Clinton 209, so he’s on course with other presidents. The tax bill is thesignature piece.
Just last week CNN White House reporter Stephen Collinson opined that with tax reform, Republicans may have finally gotten their act together. Tax brackets have been lowered, the standard deduction increases, many loopholes have been eliminated that the wealthy used and members of Congress cannot deduct living expenses.
The Washington Examiner released a report from the Joint Committee on Taxation this past week noting $1.1 trillion of the $1.45 trillion in tax cuts goes to individuals, which is 77 percent of the total tax cut. Obviously, in a progressive taxation system where the top 50 percent of taxpayers pay 97 percent of the taxes, benefits are proportional when they go down just like they are proportional when they go up. But most Americans benefit in some fashion except those in states with high tax rates.
A CNN reporter quoted the Tax Policy Center’s number that 91 percent of middle income Americans would receive a tax cut in an interview with Sen. Bernie Sanders, who opposes cuts that corporations also receive. When queried, Sen. Sanders admitted tax cuts were good, especially if they were permanent. Immediately, Sen. Ted Cruz called on Sanders to join him to make them permanent.
AT&T, Boeing, Wells Fargo, Comcast and other companies, including local BB&T, immediately announced wage increases and bonuses. The BB&T decision will directly help a lot of Robeson County residents..
The White House reported trade deals are being renegotiated that send jobs overseas. Keystone and Dakota pipelines have been approved. ANWAR has been opened for energy exploration. The president has called for energy dominance and not just independence.
This year has realized record lows in illegal border crossings and eight wall prototypes have been built.
Even Trump’s tweets have become less controversial. It is quietly rumored that aides finally have a disciplined tweet plan in place. Trump even called on Republicans to work with Democrats on health-care reform as he and Sen. Mitch McConnell opined hopes for bipartisan work next year.
These are wins for America. There are more ambitious plans for 2018.
Phillip Stephens is chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party.