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How Many Wins Did Trump Record In 2017?

by David Teitelbaum (Principles: It all begins with Respect. ) - 1 year ago

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You can’t win a game until the game is over. Trump is making progress on many of his promises but, just like in sports, those leads can slip away quickly.

On February 5, 2017, the New England Patriots took on the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. The Patriots under future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and peerless coach Bill Belichick had already won 4 championships. The Patriots have also been accused of cheating on the way to some of those championships. The Falcons had never won a Super Bowl but they quickly made it clear that they were not going to be intimidated in this game. The Falcons took a commanding 25 point lead early in the second half and appeared to be on their way to that first title. But then the Patriots rallied. They scored 25 straight points to tie the game and then quickly won it in overtime.   

What does this game tell us about winning? I’m going to make some obvious statements but hang with me and you’ll soon see why:

- The Patriots achieved their stated goal of winning the Super Bowl

- The Atlanta Falcons had the ability and the opportunity to prevent the Patriots from achieving that goal.

- The Atlanta Falcons, despite having a big lead at one point, did not win.

- The fact that many people hate the Patriots does not change the fact that the Patriots won.

With the first calendar year of Trump’s Presidency drawing to a close, his opponents and supporters are taking out their scorecards and counting his victories. Supporters, of course, are claiming scores of victories. Opponents argue that even when Trump got what he wanted, he lost.

Using my observations of the Atlanta / New England Super Bowl as a guide, let’s run down the list of “wins” claimed by Trump’s supporters and see just how many he really has:

The defeat of ISIS: There is no doubt that 2017 has been a bad year for ISIS. However, to say they are defeated is premature. Yes, they have been excised from Mosul and Raqqa but they continue to successfully incite terrorist attacks through the internet. The conditions that allowed ISIS to flourish in places like Mosul and Raqqa have yet to be addressed and, until they are, radical Islamic terrorists will remain a danger.  We scored a couple of touchdowns against ISIS but the game is far from over.

Tax cuts:  I can complain that the tax reform bill was hastily conceived and is riddled with loopholes which will haunt Republicans and the U.S. Treasury for years to come.  Those cuts may turn out to be a loss for America but the tax cut bill is a win for Trump. Score one win for the President.

Economic Growth and Low Unemployment:  President Obama and President Trump both get credit for today’s strong economic performance. Obama’s record is now complete. He took over an economy that was losing 800,000 jobs a month, and left office with a growing economy adding over 200,000 jobs a month. Obama gets a win. Trump has now completed the first quarter of his first term and like the Atlanta Falcons at that point, he is in the lead. We’ll know in 2020 if he has won.

Consumer Confidence Is High:  Before we give Trump a win, let’s see how he handles his first economic or political crisis. If confidence remains high after that, he gets the win.

Stock Market at Record Highs: The market in 2017 was fueled by the expectation of corporate tax cuts. I’ve already given Trump a win for those. He’ll get another win on the stock market if it continues to climb over the next 3 years.

Conservative Judicial Appointments: Trump has set records for most Judicial appointments but who did he “defeat?”  Appointing Conservatives to the bench when it only takes 50 votes and there are 52 Conservative Senators simply requires not choosing people who are so embarrassingly unqualified that even Republicans have to reject them. Give Democrats a loss on this because it was their idea to blow up the judicial filibuster but don’t give Trump a win.

Deregulation: Signing your name to an Executive Order is not a win. It is simply signing your name.

Appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court: This one gets special mention because it counts as a loss for Trump.  The fact that getting Gorsuch confirmed required Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to remove the filibuster will haunt Republicans in the future. A better candidate or a more persuasive President would have allowed the filibuster to remain in place and prevent a future Democratic President from appointing a young far left justice. Trump chose a weak candidate and couldn’t persuade 60 Senators to confirm him. Trump loses.

Trade and International Deals: Trump withdrew from the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Paris Climate Agreement. Nothing could have stopped him from doing either of those. Closer to a victory is the $250 billion trade deal Trump signed with China back in November. However, the goal here is not just to sign trade deals, the goal is to sign trade deals that are great for America. We’ll see over time if this deal meets that goal.

Reducing Illegal Immigration: Trump promised that Illegal border crossings would decline. He has taken actions to reduce illegal immigration and, by all objective measures, illegal immigration is down. Game over. Trump wins.

Improving Relations with Israel: Trump elected to visit Israel on his first foreign trip. He elected to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. He has ordered that the U.S. embassy be moved to Jerusalem. Mission accomplished with respect to improving relations but no one had the power to stop him from doing any of those things. Now, if he actually moves the embassy to Jerusalem without igniting a new intifada, I would certainly credit him with a major victory.

Repeal of Obamacare Individual Mandate Trump promised to repeal AND REPLACE Obamacare. Removing this key provision of Obamacare without replacing it could turn out to be his most consequential loss of 2017. Until he replaces Obamacare with “great health care” he has won nothing.

Ending Obama’s War on Coal: Trump’s promise was to put coal miners back to work. He can say nice things about coal and repeal anti-coal environmental regulations but a win requires that coal miners go back to work. In the 5 years prior to Trump becoming President, U.S. coal mining jobs declined from 90,000 to 50,000. In the past year, 1,200 of those 40,000 lost jobs have been restored. Trump is therefore 3% of the way toward his goal. Whether this small recovery is a temporary blip or a permanent trend will determine if this counts as a win or a loss for Trump.

School Choice, Draining the Swamp, Energy Independence: These games are just beginning. Check back in 2020.

So basically we have wins on tax reform and illegal immigration, a loss on the Supreme Court filibuster, a few leads, a significant deficit on health care, and a whole bunch of Executive Orders that could be reversed by the next President as easily as Obama’s EOs were reversed by Trump. Trump was not shut out in 2017 as his opponents claim, but he still has a lot of work to do if he wants historians to ultimately consider 2017 to be a Trump victory. 

Comments and Responses (1)

By  Marvan Buren - 1 year ago
Based on your definition, I would add a third victory. Trump has succeeded in making a significant portion of the country believe that real news is fake news. It was his intent from day one to discredit the news media, the news media has fought him every step of the way, and he has succeeded in making 35% of the country believe that you can't trust anything you read in the Washington Post. The score of this game is Trump 1, American nothing. Trump wins.
Discussion Leader's Response : This comment is relevant to the discussion. (Commenter's rating is increased.)
Discussion Leader's Explanation : Is 35% enough to claim victory? Usually, you need more than 50%. Also, the discrediting of the media is a tactic to achieve other goals such as undermining the Russia investigations and helping Trump win reelection. I would agree that Trump has had far more success than he should have had with this tactic but it is a means to an end, not the end itself. Therefore, it cannot count as a win.