Friday, April 28, 2017

Report Card on Trump's First 100 Days

Brian Burch, Catholic Vote: Thousands of CV members took our recent survey.

We’ve compiled the results and incorporated your feedback into our report card on President Trump’s first 100 days below.

While the “100-day” yardstick is arbitrary, the marker does provide a moment to take stock of the new president and his accomplishments. Despite wild and reckless predictions from his detractors, President Trump has focused on doing exactly what he pledged as a candidate.

It goes without saying that had Hillary Clinton been elected, this report card would look a lot different. Catholics have reason for optimism. But like the first 100 days, the road ahead remains difficult.

Supreme Court: A+
Hands down, Trump’s biggest accomplishment was the nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Justice Gorsuch is a constitutionalist, committed to respecting the text and intent of lawmakers rather than legislating from the bench. Justice Gorsuch is poised to have a far-reaching impact on the Court on issues of significance to Catholic voters in the decades to come.

Religious Freedom: C-
Trump repeatedly promised to protect Americans of faith during his campaign, even sending an exclusive signed letter to the members of CatholicVote. People of faith are still waiting for action. A leaked draft of an excellent Executive Order was stymied, according to reports, by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump along with outside left-wing groups. Just this week the Department of Justice extended its defense of the HHS mandate, despite requests to drop the case. Catholics are patient, but want action on religious liberty. And soon.

Sanctity of Life: A
By signing the Mexico City Policy, Trump ended funding of abortions overseas. He also signed a law allowing states to defund Planned Parenthood in favor of other women's health clinics, while Vice President Pence became the first sitting Veep to speak at the March for Life. Much more work remains, including the big priority of de-funding Planned Parenthood, but pro-life voters should be pleased with the progress thus far.

Healthcare: Incomplete
Trump's repeated promises to "repeal and replace Obamacare" have run into a legislative buzzsaw. An initial rush to pass a flawed bill failed to gather the needed votes, yet both Trump and Ryan deserve credit for not abandoning the effort altogether. A more promising new plan emerged this week, but moderate Republicans are dragging their feet. Obamacare must go, or Republicans will have hell to pay in 2018. Remember it took President Obama 13 months to pass Obamacare. There’s plenty of time to get things done -- and do it right.

Administration/Government Accountability: A-
Trump missed a chance to fire IRS chief John Koskinen despite his obvious targeting of conservative groups. Yet the President has set in motion long overdue reforms, including a 5-year ban on lobbying for anyone that works in his administration, requiring the repeal of two regulations for every new regulation, and moratoriums on new hiring and reductions in certain agency staff sizes. He has also signed orders reducing excessive government overreach in education along with eliminating impediments to firing grossly incompetent employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The business-minded President appears intent on revamping the entire Executive branch of government, making it more responsive and efficient.

Immigration: B
Despite widespread protests, including statements from a wide array of Catholic bishops, President Trump has followed through on his pledge to reduce illegal immigration but has done so in a largely balanced approach. His poorly drafted and mismanaged order restricting refugees had some merit, but required revision and continues to face legal hurdles. Nevertheless, his stepped-up enforcement has rightly focused on hardened criminals while moderating on those who immigrated illegally as children (Dreamers). Illegal immigration has plummeted, even without a new wall.

Economy and Taxes: A
The President's recently released outline of his tax plan is tailor-made for working-class families. Trump's plan would double the standard deduction to $25,400, so that a married couple would not pay a single dollar of taxes on their $33,500. Trump's plan would also preserve the child tax credit, while cutting other deductions. In addition, the proposed reduction in the corporate tax rate would undoubtedly encourage hiring and increase wages. Secondly, executive action to reduce regulations, together with a focus on energy exploration including the authorization of the Keystone Pipeline, are encouraging. Worries about reckless protectionism have been muted so far. Indicators suggest consumer and business confidence is surging. Now the President must follow through.

Appointments: A+
President Trump has assembled a superb Cabinet. Trump placed pro-life Dr. Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Department of Education is now run by Betsy DeVos, a champion of school choice. But it's important to realize that staffing the Executive Branch means filling many other positions. Just today came news that Chairmaine Yoest, the former CEO of Americans United for Life, was hired to be assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. Matt Bowman, a lawyer from Alliance Defending Freedom (and former blogger for CatholicVote) was hired at HHS back in January. The Trump administration is staffed throughout with thousands of high-caliber individuals we consider allies.

What are your thoughts? What grades would you give the Trump administration?

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