Trump Pulls Through on Tax Overhaul, But Where's the Wall?: Analysis - NECN
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

The latest news on President Donald Trump's presidency

Trump Pulls Through on Tax Overhaul, But Where's the Wall?: Analysis

For all his rogue tendencies, Donald Trump has shaped up as a largely conventional Republican president when measured by his promises kept and in motion

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Trump Under Scrutiny for ‘S---hole Countries’ Comments

    President Trump is alleged to have made inflammatory remarks about countries in Africa, Haiti, and El Salvador.

    (Published Friday, Jan. 12, 2018)

    President Donald Trump often brags that he's done more in his first year in office than any other president. That's a spectacular stretch.

    But while he's fallen short on many measures and has a strikingly thin legislative record, Trump has followed through on dozens of his campaign promises, overhauling the country's tax system, changing the U.S. posture abroad and upending the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants.

    A year in, Trump is no closer to making Mexico pay for a border wall than when he made supporters swoon with that promise at those rollicking campaign rallies of 2016.

    He's run into legislative roadblocks — from fellow Republicans, no less — at big moments, which is why the Obama-era health law survives, wounded but still insuring millions. His own administration's sloppy start explains why none of the laws he pledged to sign in his first 100 days came to reality then and why most are still aspirational.

    WH Doubles Down on Trump's 'Animals' Remark at Roundtable

    [NATL] WH Doubles Down on Trump's 'Animals' Comment at California Sanctuary Policies Roundtable

    President Donald Trump railed against immigration policies adopted by so-called sanctuary cities at a White House roundtable Wednesday, bemoaning a California law that restricts local and state cooperation with U.S. Customs and Enforcement agents and calling some immigrants "animals." White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down on the comments, saying the president's language was not tough enough. 

    (Published Thursday, May 17, 2018)

    Nevertheless, Trump has nailed the tax overhaul, his only historic legislative accomplishment to date, won confirmation of a conservative Supreme Court justice and other federal judges, and used his executive powers with vigor to slice regulations and pull the U.S. away from international accords he assailed as a candidate.

    Courts tied his most provocative actions on immigration and Muslim entry in knots, but illegal border crossings appear to be at historic lows.

    The upshot? For all his rogue tendencies, Trump has shaped up as a largely conventional Republican president when measured by his promises kept and in motion.

    The Twitter version of Trump may be jazzed with braggadocio about the size of his (nonexistent) nuclear button and his "very stable genius." But the ledger of actions taken is recognizable to Washington: mainstream Republican tax cuts, pro-business policy (with exceptions on trade), curbs on environmental regulation and an approach to health care that's been in the GOP playbook for years.

    That's as of today and this moment. With Trump, you never know about tomorrow.

    A look at some of his campaign promises and what's happened with them:

    Senate Votes to Protect Net Neutrality

    [NATL] Senate Votes to Protect Net Neutrality
    The Senate has moved to protect net neutrality rules that are set to end next month, passing a resolution to keep the Obama-era internet protections by a 52-47 vote.
     
    It's a last-ditch effort led by Democratic senators to take legislative action to overrule the Federal Communications Commission, which voted in December to repeal net neutrality rules.
    (Published Thursday, May 17, 2018)

    TAXES
    Trump and congressional Republicans delivered on an overhaul that substantially lowers corporate taxes and cuts personal income taxes, as promised. It's sizable but not everything Trump said it would be, and it is more tilted to the wealthy than he promised or will admit. He promised a 15 percent tax rate for corporations and settled for 21 percent, still a major drop from 35 percent. He promised three tax brackets; there are still seven. He did not eliminate the estate tax or the alternative minimum tax as he said he would. Fewer people will be subject to those taxes, however, at least temporarily.

    "Everybody is getting a tax cut, especially the middle class," he said in the campaign. Most will; some will pay more.

    TRADE
    Trump made good on his promise to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement in search of a better deal.

    He's let China off the hook, though, on his oft-repeated threat during the campaign to brand Beijing a currency manipulator, a step toward potentially hefty penalties on Chinese imports and a likely spark for a trade war.

    "We're like the piggy bank that's being robbed," he said of the trade relationship, which has tipped even more in China's favor since. Trump now threatens trade punishment if China does not sufficiently cooperate in reining in North Korea.

    Trump promised to impose a 35 percent tariff on goods from U.S. companies that ship production abroad. He's not delivered on that. Instead, his tax plan aims to encourage companies to stay in the U.S. with the lower tax rate and to entice those operating abroad to come home by letting them repatriate their profits in the U.S. at a temporarily discounted rate. His approach so far is all carrot, no stick.

    IMMIGRATION
    Candidate Trump rocked the political landscape when he proposed a temporary ban on all non-U.S. Muslims entering the country. While he's long backed away from such talk, Trump has worked since his first days in office to impose new restrictions on tourists and immigrants, signing executive orders that would have made good on his anti-immigration promises had those orders not been blocked by courts.

    He's now succeeded in banning the entry of citizens from several Muslim-majority countries and in severely curbing refugee admissions. He's tried to deny certain federal money for cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

    Trump is now deep in negotiations over an immigration deal that could deliver on other promises, including money for the border wall with Mexico and overhauling the legal immigration system to make it harder for immigrants to sponsor their families. That's in exchange for extending protections for hundreds of thousands of young people brought to the country illegally as children. They are protections he once slammed as an "illegal" amnesty and pledged to end.

    Mexico still isn't ponying up money for the wall.

    ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT
    Trump promised aggressive action on the energy front and has pursued that.

    He announced his intention to take the U.S. out of the Paris climate-change accord. He gave swift approval to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines stalled by President Barack Obama, moved to shrink protected national monument lands in Utah and Arizona, and acted to lift restrictions on mining coal and coastal drilling for oil and natural gas.

    North Korea Threatens to Shut Down Summit With US

    [NATL] North Korea Threatens to Shut Down Summit With US

    North Korea is threatening to walk away from next month's highly anticipated historic summit with the United States, saying it has no interest in giving up nuclear weapons without getting something in return. The regime is pointing to routine military drills between the U.S. and South Korea as a "provocative military racket."

    (Published Thursday, May 17, 2018)

    A provision in the new tax law opens the long-protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling.

    As other countries turn harder toward green energy, Trump is making fossil fuels the centerpiece of his drive toward energy independence — a benchmark that Obama closed in on during an era of surging natural gas development.

    HEALTH CARE
    Probably nothing exemplifies frustrated ambition more than the Obama health law Republicans have been trying to dismantle ever since it was enacted in 2010. Trump has declared it dead many times — he just never got around to killing it.

    He made this overpromise in the campaign: "My first day in office, I'm going to ask Congress to put a bill on my desk getting rid of this disastrous law and replacing it with reforms that expand choice, freedom, affordability. You're going to have such great health care at a tiny fraction of the cost. It's going to be so easy."

    That hasn't happened.

    Republicans took several runs at repealing and replacing the law last year, only to fall short. The December tax law, though, is knocking out a pillar. As of 2019, the requirement to carry health insurance or pay a fine will be gone.

    Senate Releases Trump Tower Probe Transcripts

    [NATL] Senate Releases Trump Tower Probe Transcripts
    Newly released documents numbering thousands of pages show Donald Trump, Jr., didn't think there was anything wrong with meeting with Russians tied to the Kremlin in an effort to get compromising information on Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 election. Democrats and legal experts say his testimony likely doesn't tell the whole story.
    (Published Thursday, May 17, 2018)

    Trump has come out with a proposed regulation to promote the sale of health plans across state lines. The goal is to make it easier for associations to sponsor plans that are cheaper than Affordable Care Act policies but don't have to meet all consumer protection and benefit requirements of that law.

    Insurance industry groups, patient groups and some state regulators are wary of the idea and see little chance it can make more than a dent in the ranks of the uninsured (nearly 30 million). Easing restrictions on the sale of health insurance across state lines has been a longtime mainstream conservative goal.

    He also promised to authorize Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. It hasn't been done.

    'AMERICA FIRST' ABROAD
    Trump promised swift victory over the Islamic State group. Over the past year, U.S. and coalition-backed local forces in Iraq and Syria did deal a crushing blow to IS, ousting the militants from most of the territory they once held. The success built on the strategy of the Obama administration to work with and through local forces. Trump did relax restrictions on the number of U.S. troops who could be deployed both to Iraq and Syria, and that aided the final push.

    U.S. commanders, however, stop short of saying IS is defeated, pointing to remaining militants and fighting in Syria. They also note the group has spawned affiliates in other countries, such as Afghanistan and Yemen, where they routinely attack U.S. forces and allies. While reeling as a territorial force, the IS group has inspired terrorist attacks in the West.

    The Pentagon has yet to see the massive increase in military spending that Trump has promised. That still might come, but the protracted struggle to pass a Pentagon budget of whatever size has hurt U.S. military readiness, defense officials say.

    Still No Apology for McCain From Trump Administration

    [NATL] Still No Apology for McCain From Trump Administration

    President Donald Trump met with his fellow Republicans to talk domestic policy Tuesday, while the question of whether the president owes Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an apology loomed over the meeting. Last week a White House aide reportedly mocked McCain's fight with brain cancer.

    (Published Wednesday, May 16, 2018)

    More broadly, Trump's "America First" ethic has been reflected in his pressure on member NATO countries to step up their own military spending, in his wariness of international accords and in the seeming drift from a diplomatic tradition of promoting U.S. democratic values abroad.

    Past presidents made common cause with authoritarian figures, and their promotion of values could be cursory. But Trump has lavished praise on select strongmen, from the Philippines to China to Russia and beyond.

    Despite railing against the Iran nuclear deal as a candidate, Trump has so far passed up opportunities to get the U.S. out of it. On the other hand, he rolled back part of Obama's opening to Cuba. He also moved forward on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a goal that both parties have embraced in their platforms for decades but never acted on.

    INFRASTRUCTURE
    Trump pledged a $1 trillion effort to rebuild the country's airports, roads, bridges and other infrastructure. As with his tax plan, it's shaping up to be less ambitious than promised, though it still might be significant. Placed behind the failed effort to repeal the health law and the successful one to cut taxes, infrastructure may or may not emerge as a proposal in coming weeks. Trump's idea appears to involve using federal tax dollars to leverage state government and private spending, not to mount a New Deal-era explosion of federal projects.

    VETERANS
    Having previously criticized the Department of Veterans Affairs as the "most corrupt," Trump delivered on one campaign promise by signing legislation to make it easier for VA employees to be fired for misconduct.

    At least for now, its impact in bringing accountability to the department remains unclear. The pace of VA firings during Obama's last budget year was higher than during Trump's first, which covered the first nine months of his administration.

    Protests Grow at Border Over New US Embassy in Jerusalem

    [NATL] Protests Grow at Israeli-Gaza Border Over New US Embassy in Jerusalem

    Protests grow at the Israeli-Gaza border over the weekend as Palestinians protest the opening of a new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. The U.S. broke tradition with other countries, which continue to keep their embassies in Tel Aviv.

    (Published Monday, May 14, 2018)

    Other Trump initiatives announced with fanfare in 2017 remain far from complete or have been limited because of questions about rising government costs: a multibillion-dollar overhaul of electronic medical records, expanded access to doctors to reduce wait times and a goal of hiring 1,000 additional mental health counselors in the first year. The VA has been clouded by a 2014 scandal at the Phoenix VA hospital in which employees manipulated records to hide appointment delays.

    ...AND MORE
    Despite his promises, Trump hasn't pushed for a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on Congress members or worked to end birthright citizenship, and he hasn't made good on his pledge to drop "dirty, rotten traitor" Bowe Bergdahl out of an airplane over Afghanistan without a parachute.

    Trump, who spends nearly every weekend golfing at one of his properties, most certainly hasn't fulfilled his promise never to take a vacation while serving as president.

    Indeed, Trump has visited properties he owns nearly one of every three days he's been in office, raising a tangle of ethical questions about whether he's profiting from his presidency.

    THE BIG BOAST
    Trump didn't wait for his first 100 days to expire before boasting that his presidential achievements thus far surpassed anything in history, and he hasn't let up since. He's bragged of having signed more than 80 pieces of legislation into law, but there's little of consequence in that pile.

    He's signed laws naming federal buildings after people, appointing a Smithsonian Institution regent and other housekeeping steps that all presidents do but tend not to make a fuss about.

    Trump to Focus on Lower Drug Prices

    [NATL] Trump to Focus on Lower Drug Prices
    President Donald Trump is expected to announce a new program Friday that will offer free generics for low income seniors, limits on out-of-pocket costs and other reforms to lower drug prices. Democrats, meanwhile, want Congress to authorize buying cheaper drugs from Canada.
    (Published Friday, May 11, 2018)

    In contrast, Obama signed an enormous stimulus package into law in his first month while also achieving a law expanding health care for children and other policy steps.

    Then there's Franklin Roosevelt, credited by historians Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer with achieving "the most concentrated period of U.S. reform in U.S. history," starting immediately with emergency legislation to stabilize the Depression-devastated banking system and setting in place the New Deal with 14 pieces of historic legislation in 100 days.