Rethinking America

Trump’s First 100 Days in Office: What’s Changed?

The Trump Administration promises a lot, but delivers little. None of his “new” aggressive policies have made any considerable dent.

Credit: Joseph Sohm - Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • Trump's bellicose posturing aside, he has failed to move the dial in any way.
  • Trump has just pursued a continuation of the US foreign policy employed under Obama.
  • Trump's promised domestic policy initiatives are just a bunch of campaign promises with little practical application.
  • On immigration, Trump has just continued Obama's policies with one simple change: aggressive publicizing of pre-existing policy.

As America counts down to the end of President Trump’s first one hundred days in office, it is legitimate to ask, “What’s changed?”

The stark answer is: Nothing. Nothing has changed, except that there’s a lot more hype attached to U.S. national politics!

In recent weeks, when Congress left Washington for the spring recess, Trump asserted himself in the sphere of foreign policy.

During that time, Trump bombed Syria. He dropped a big bomb in Afghanistan. He sent a carrier group to stand watch off the Korean peninsula. He stopped calling China a currency manipulator. And he called NATO indispensable.

As a result of these various actions, Assad remains in power in Syria. The Taliban remain ascendant in the “graveyard of empires.” Kim continues to promote his nuclear aspirations. China still runs massive trade surpluses with the United States.

Undeserved kudos

Although each and every one of these actions was a repudiation of his campaign rhetoric, conservative commentators give Trump kudos for his strong foreign policy stances.

Trump’s more bellicose posturing may portray a more sober — or sobering — image on the world stage, but the reality is that he has failed to move the dial in any way. He may appeal to barroom conservatives, but the emperor has no clothes.

In fact, each of these positions seems to be a continuation of the Obama Administration’s policies.

Obama promised consequences if Assad were to break the Russia-brokered ban on the use of chemical weapons.

The Obama Administration might have asked more questions about whether or not the entirely purposeless and fully self-defeating gas attack was indeed initiated by the Assad regime. But limited and targeted retaliation was right out of the Obama playbook.

The MOAB bomb used in Afghanistan was deployed in precisely the way U.S. military doctrine defined how it should be deployed.

In North Korea, Kim remains intractable, even if his missile test backfired — or was sabotaged. (By the way, the cyber-weapons program designed to thwart Kim’s nuclear ambitions was started under President Obama during his first term.)

And China’s endgame for the peninsula is the resumption of the six-party talks that were already in place during the Clinton Administration.

Furthermore, the Chinese renmimbi has strengthened over the past year and was flat for the three years before that. So, if China is manipulating its currency, it has been doing a very poor job — a factor Trump missed entirely during the presidential campaign.

Obama in drag

The point is that President Trump has pursued a continuation of the foreign policy employed by the United States under President Obama. The only difference has been the “sturm-und-drang” the President has attached to it. But by dint of his perceived ineptitude, his “C” grade has been accorded an “A.”

Even so, when the U.S. Congress reconvenes next week, attention will refocus on domestic policy. Here, we find a similar dynamic about to take place.

Healthcare reform represents a “lose/lose” proposition for the Trump Administration. Fulfill the campaign promise and get rid of ObamaCare? In doing so, Trump will alienate a wide swath of the U.S. electorate by taking health care coverage way from them, their friends and their families.

Alternatively, he will fail to fulfill an important campaign promise. In the meantime, no realistic plan is on the table for health care reform.

Tax reform anyone?

Tax reform could be equally confounding. Cut taxes and make it revenue neutral? The supply-side agenda has been discredited on both the national and state levels.

Real tax cuts can’t be accomplished without equivalent cuts in social and defense spending. Another can of worms will be opened when he tries to reconcile these irreconcilable differences.

Infrastructure

No credible infrastructure plan exists and, if a plan did exist, it wouldn’t be credible. The concept of public/private partnerships, which is at the core of Trump Administration thinking on the subject, will result in a half-baked effort to restore America’s infrastructure.

Trump’s conundrum: Go full bore on infrastructure and you bust the budget!

More of the same

The reality is that Trump’s promised domestic policy initiatives are little more than a bunch of campaign promises with little practical application. The way forward: more of the same.

On immigration, it must be conceded that Trump has put a dent in illegal immigration. But he has done this by continuing the policies of the Obama Administration with one simple change: Trump has been aggressive in publicizing the pre-existing policy.

This has served as a deterrent and it is working well. But the President hardly deserves kudos for this, because at its heart it is a continuation of the status quo — more of the same.

All that Trump has so far accomplished has been a frontal assault on the environment and an expansion of the “war on women.”

He’s about to get serious pushback on the environment in the U.S. courts and in the international arena. He hardly seems credible in asserting that he will be able to stay the draconian course he has set out on.

With his “war on women,” he will find that the lovely Ivanka will be brushed aside in a crescendo of vitriol coming from women on all sides of the political divide.

Trump’s “re-education”

All of this adds up to one thing. President Trump is a liar, a charlatan and a con man. This, in and of itself, is not necessarily bad. After all, Trump’s “re-education” may in the end result in effective policy. In the meantime, the Trump Administration promises a lot, but delivers little.

This is a direct reflection of his business career, where he has consistently bilked people through a whole variety of nefarious schemes.

Trump, just Hillary Clinton with a comb over

Trump’s latest nefarious scheme is his political career. There’s a sucker born every minute, which approximates the number of suckers — nearly 63 million in all — who voted for Trump in the 2016 election. Little did they know that they were voting for the status quo-Hillary Clinton with a comb over.

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About Richard Phillips

Richard Phillips is a New York-based international analyst with extensive financial sector experience. [United States]

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