Love him or hate him, and I have found very few who are indifferent, Donald Trump had a pretty good first year as President. How much of what has been accomplished can be directly attributed to him is debatable, but the same can mostly be said of any President. As Ramesh Ponnuru notes in National Review, “People who voted for Trump in November 2016 on the theory that he would deliver policies radically different from what other Republicans would do should be disappointed. Those who voted for him because he would usually line up with conservatives and sign Republican bills, on the other hand, have reason to be pleased”. This is a pretty fair assessment, but I would add that signing executive orders has been at least as important to this latter group as the bills signed, for all things considered, this past year has witnessed a massive reversal of the Obama progressive agenda.
Let’s look at the list:
- Withdrew the U. S. from the Paris climate agreement.
- Rolled back the mandate that employers provide employees with contraception and abortifacients.
- Recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
- Adopted a much firmer policy on Afghanistan and in effect defeated ISIS in Iraq.
- Led a bold assault of deregulation on the regulatory/administrative state in almost every area.
- Signed legislation to open up oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
- Signed the most significant overhaul of the tax code in over 30 years.
- Appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and a significant number of appellate judges.
- As previously noted, issued numerous executive orders reversing the Obama legacy.
- Released a new National Security Strategy that offers realism with no hint of isolationism and reverses the past eight years of withdrawal.
There is a lot here to like, but of course there is much more to be done, and one hopes that serious restructuring of Social Security and Medicare will be on the short list soon after the immigration issue is resolved. There is also a lot to worry about, high on the list for me being Trump’s misguided rhetoric on trade, particularly the North America Free Trade Agreement, a collapse of which would be a disaster for the country. And, of course, with Trump, there is the constant threat of big mouth overload and the out of control twitter attacks which will not be disciplined, a risk that cannot be quantified, but what you see is what you get, and so far on balance that has been pretty good and better than we had a right to expect.