Donald Trump has been in office now for 217 days. That’s not a particularly historic marker, but I still thought it would be interesting to do a little fact-checking on what he has accomplished. Part of my motivation for doing so is that he keeps changing the goalposts—like suggesting that 2.6 percent GDP growth is some kind of major accomplishment (which it’s not) after he promised to get it up to 4 percent. The other motivation was that, once again, he claimed this during his speech in Phoenix:
I don’t believe that any president has accomplished as much as this president in the first six or seven months. I really do not believe it.
One way to look at this is to review what Trump promised in his Contract With the American Voter that was published just prior to the election. It states: “I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their passage within the first 100 days of my Administration.” Here are the 10 pieces of legislation that were listed:
- Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act – not introduced
- End the Offshoring Act – not introduced
- American Energy and Infrastructure Act – not introduced
- School Choice and Education Opportunity Act – not introduced
- Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act – failed
- Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act – not introduced
- End Illegal Immigration Act – not introduced
- Restoring Community Safety Act – not introduced
- Restoring National Security Act – not introduced
- Clean Up Corruption in Washington Act – not introduced
What is interesting to note when reading how the document describes each of these pieces of legislation is that the wording implies that bills to accomplish these things had already been written. For example, on the one titled “End the Offshoring Act,” it starts with this: “Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers…” As we’ve seen now with the efforts to repeal Obamacare and cut taxes, the White House never had any intention of actually writing a bill. They’ve left all of that to Congress.
So of the ten items listed, one failed and the other nine haven’t been introduced—and likely never will.
The other way to evaluate this is to take a look at the promises Trump made during the campaign and note which ones he has kept. As they’ve done with presidents in the past, that is something PolitiFact has taken on. Here are the seven promises they say he’s kept.
- Slashed federal regulations
- Imposed a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying for foreign governments
- Put forward a SCOTUS nominee
- Kept Gitmo open
- Pulled out of the Paris Climate accord
- Pullout out of TPP
- Reversed Obama’s 2016 gun executive order
While still pretty meager for someone claiming to have accomplished more than any previous president, at least that list seems to be more impressive than the number of bills he’s failed to even introduce in Congress. But only the first three are affirmative things Trump has done. Keeping Gitmo open pretty much means doing nothing about it and the other three simply reversed progress Obama had made.
Slashing federal regulations might be the one major Trump accomplishment. The ban on White House officials lobbying for foreign governments is interesting given that his campaign is under investigation for having colluded with the Russians in order to win the 2016 election. Many people think that Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is his biggest accomplishment, and it’s true that it is something that will impact this country in the long-term more than anything else he is likely to do. On the other hand, nominating someone to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court is one of the basics included in the POTUS job description. Fulfilling that responsibility is hardly a milestone.
To summarize, Trump’s major accomplishments as president include nominating someone to the Supreme Court, cutting regulations, and pulling out of both TPP and the Paris Climate Accord. There are arguments to be made that these are not positive moves for the country, but nevertheless, they amount to promises kept. Still…the list is meager for this president’s first 217 days. That is before the proverbial shit hits the fan next month when it’s time to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a government shutdown. Meanwhile, Robert Mueller and his team are still at work on a criminal investigation of Trump and his campaign.
While Trump’s rhetoric about his accomplishments is delusional, it is clear that on some level he knows what a failure he’s been as president. That’s why he’s lashing out at the press in their attempts to hold him accountable, exploding in fits of rage at campaign-style rallies, going to war with Senate Republicans and trying to blame the filibuster rule. He’s desperate to find a scapegoat and anyone (even those close to him) are likely targets.