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One man's failures are another's hopes



Despite somersaults and cartwheels by the Trump administration to come up with a list of achievements in its first 100 days, the simple fact is that The Donald has accomplished precious little during his presidential honeymoon other than take several trips to his Mar-a-Lago resort where he seems content to brush up on his golf.

Ever since FDR, the first 100 days has been a landmark in judging the effectiveness of a president. Roosevelt, of course, is famous for enacting myriad programs, which helped to alleviate the effects of the Great Depression on a fearful nation in the opening months of his tenure.

In recent years both the George W. Bush and the Barack Obama administrations could boast of major legislative achievements. Bush pushed a $1.3 trillion tax cut through Congress as well as put together a bi-partisan coalition that eventually enacted the No Child Left Behind law. In his first 100 days, Obama passed a $787 billion stimulus package which many economists believe prevented the United States from sinking further into the economic doldrums caused by the Great Recession. Obama also signed legislation helping women gain fair pay and giving more children access to health care.

There are three reasons why the Trump administration has failed to accomplish anything significant in its first 100 days. First, the nation is in good shape and the number of pressing issues is far less than what Obama faced in his opening days. After all, Trump inherited an economy with low unemployment, continuing job growth, a record-breaking stock market, low inflation, low oil prices, and reports showing median household incomes rising while poverty decreases.

Second, the Trump administration has shown varying degrees of incompetence. The president’s main advisors have little or no government experience, especially the controversial neo-nationalist Steve Bannon and Trump’s 36-year-old son-in-law Jared Kushner, whose resume extends little past a penchant for making money in real estate.

Finally, Trump faces a divided Republican Party that has been good at obstruction in recent years but seems to have no clue about how to govern. Plans to repeal and replace Obamacare failed under the weight of this division as hard liners on the right, who don’t really believe in government, rejected the proposal put forth by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price because it was simply not draconian enough. They wanted a total gutting of the Affordable Care Act while moderates in the party could not stomach the Congressional Budget Office’s confirmation that 24 million Americans would lose their insurance because of the legislation.

For many Americans, however, Trump’s failures are music to their ears, and Democratic hope springs eternal that Republican inability to show results will lead to gains in both the House and Senate in next year’s elections.

-- Michael Smith - Santa Maria

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