During the campaign last year, Donald Trump pledged to accomplish what he called the ‘Contract with the American Voter’ in his first 100 days. The contract is reminiscent of Newt Gingrich’s contract in the 90s and follows the similar 100-day obligatory ambitions of previous Presidents set in political precedence by FDR’s New Deal era Progressive government expansion. There is much chatter of how successful Donald Trump’s contract has been. Let’s take a look to see how he has done.
Donald Trump’s Contract with the American Voter
Six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, DC:
FIRST, propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress. DONE, BUT OUT OF HIS HANDS. He has proposed the amendment, but it requires congressional ratification by two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states.
SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce the federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health). PARTIALLY DONE – There have been some exemptions to the federal hiring freeze.
THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated. PARTIALLY DONE – This is an ambitious effort that realistically could not happen within the first 100 days despite Trump’s promise. He has signed executive orders removing many regulations, but long-standing solutions which need to be voted on in Congress have only seen a dozen regulations repealed.
FOURTH, a five-year ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service. PARTIALLY DONE – Trump has signed an executive order to ban administration officials, noting the five-year ban, but this requires congressional legislation in order to make it law.
FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government. DONE BUT… Former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn was registered as a foreign agent to Turkey prior to the formally joining the administration. We can give him a pass on the technical wording of the ethics pledge.
SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections. NOT DONE because it requires congressional legislation.
Seven actions to protect American workers:
FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205. NOT DONE – Trump has drafted a letter but did not send an official letter to begin the required 90-day period for Congress to begin renegotiating a trade deal.
SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. DONE – Although the TPP was a symbolic due the lack of ratification required by Congress, Trump has signed a presidential memorandum directing the U.S. trade representative to retract the U.S. from the trade deal.
THIRD, I will direct the Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator. CHANGED POSITION – Since the campaign, Trump has flip-flopped on his promise to label China as a currency manipulator. While this is another symbolic political position, there is a possible reason that Trump has flip-flopped. The drastic change in foreign policy between China and North Korea could be some “deal making” in play between Trump and China. Politics aside, it is still a broken promise.
FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately. PARTIALLY DONE – Trump has signed an executive order to investigate abuses of China and other trading partners but does not take action to end those abuses. This promise does coincide with his Third Promise mentioned prior to this one, and Trump’s change of position on China should be considered.
FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal. DONE link
SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward. DONE link
SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure. PROPOSED – Trump has shown in his proposed budget that the U.S. would cease payments to the UN.
Five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law:
FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum, and order issued by President Obama. TOO HARD TO COUNT – Since there has been no official ruling of unconstitutionality by a court, there technically is no executive action taken by Obama that needs to be removed. Trump has revoked several executive orders of his predecessor.
SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. DONE – The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch is arguably his biggest accomplishment and fulfilled promise to date amongst members of the Republican Party and Conservatives alike.
THIRD, cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities. IN PROGRESS – Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that states that do not cooperate with immigration authorities would lose up to $4.1 billion collectively.
FOURTH, begin removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries who will not take them back. IN PROGRESS – to date, ICE has arrested 21,362 illegal immigrants.
FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered “extreme vetting.” DONE, BUT BLOCKED – Donald Trump has tried two executive orders to suspend the importation of refugees from terror-prone nations.
While much of Trump’s promises remain undone or in progress, it is important to mention that Trump needs Congress to implement much of his plan. Executive orders are also temporary solutions that can only work within existing law to be effective. Like other President’s before him, Trump has made many promises to execute powers that he does not have and fulfill promises that he cannot deliver. While much of this can be seen as pre-election campaign rhetoric, it will surely be used in post-election political warfare.
Regardless of the spin put on Trump’s progress, he will be projected as a failure by the Beltway, mostly by the establishment media and bureaucracy, who does not want their powerful influence reduced.
Trump’s promises are ambitious and will be an ongoing goal for him moving beyond his first one hundred days. Many politicos will weigh the success of Trump’s first term on legislation passed and not executive orders. Without legislation solidifying plans to build a southern border wall and a full repeal of Obama’s signature accomplishment –The Affordable Care Act – Trump will most likely disappoint much of his base and be seen as a dismal failure.