Trump has long way to go on pledges
WASHINGTON — Sure enough, the big trans-Pacific trade deal is toast, climate change action is on the ropes, and various regulations from the Obama era have been scrapped. It’s also a safe bet President Donald Trump hasn’t raced a bicycle since Jan. 20, keeping that vow.
Add a Supreme Court justice — no small feat — and call these promises kept.
But where’s that wall? Or the promised trade punishment against China — will the Chinese get off scot-free from “the greatest theft in the history of the world”? What about that “easy” replacement for Obamacare? How about the trillion-dollar infrastructure plan and huge tax cut that were supposed to be in motion by now?
Trump’s road to the White House, paved in big, sometimes impossible pledges, has detoured onto a byway of promises deferred or left behind, an AP analysis found.
Of 38 specific promises Trump made in his 100-day “contract” with voters — “This is my pledge to you” — he’s accomplished 10, mostly through executive orders that don’t require legislation, such as withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
He’s abandoned several and failed to deliver quickly on others, stymied at times by a divided Republican Party and resistant federal judges. Of 10 promises that require Congress to act, none has been achieved and most have not been introduced.
“I’ve done more than any other president in the first 100 days,” the president bragged in a recent interview with AP, even as he criticized the marker as an “artificial barrier.”
In truth, his 100-day plan remains mostly a to-do list that will spill over well beyond Saturday, his 100th day.
Some of Trump’s promises were obviously hyperbole to begin with. Don’t hold your breath waiting for alleged Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl to be dropped out of an airplane without a parachute, as Trump vowed he’d do at many of his campaign rallies. China’s leader got a fancy dinner, complete with “beautiful” chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago this month, not the promised “McDonald’s hamburger” and humble pie.
But many promises were meant to be taken seriously. Trump clearly owes his supporters a Mexico border wall, even if it doesn’t end up being a foot taller than the Great Wall of China.
One page of his 100-day manifesto is devoted to legislation he would fight to pass in 100 days. None of it has been achieved.
The other page lists 18 executive actions and intentions he promised to pursue — many on Day One. He has followed through on fewer than a dozen, largely through the use of executive orders, and the White House is boasting that he will set a post-World War II record when he signs more this week.
That’s a change in tune.
“We need people in Washington that don’t go around signing executive orders because they can’t get people into a room and get some kind of a deal that’s negotiated,” he declared in New Hampshire in March 2015. “We need people that know how to lead, and we don’t have that. We have amateurs.”
Efforts to provide affordable child care and paid maternity leave, to make college more affordable and to invest in urban areas have been all but forgotten. That’s despite the advantage of a Republican-controlled Congress, which the White House failed to pull together behind Trump’s first attempt to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”
An AP reporter who followed Trump throughout the presidential campaign collected scores of promises he made along the way, from the consequential to the fanciful. Here are some of them, and his progress so far:
Lift President Barack Obama’s roadblocks on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines: Done. Keystone XL is revived and construction of the Dakota Access is completed.
Lift restrictions on mining coal and drilling for oil and natural gas: Done. Trump has unraveled a number of Obama-era restrictions and initiated a review of the Clean Power Plan, which aimed to restrict greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants.
Cancel payments to U.N. climate change programs and pull out of the Paris climate accord: Nope. Trump has yet to make a decision on Paris. His aides are torn.
Pass a tax overhaul. “Just think about what can be accomplished in the first 100 days of a Trump administration,” he told supporters again and again in the final weeks of the campaign. “We are going to have the biggest tax cut since Ronald Reagan.” He promised a plan that would reduce rates dramatically both for corporations and the middle class. Nowhere close. Trump has scrapped the tax plan he campaigned on, and his administration’s new package is in its early stages, not only missing the first 100 days but likely to miss a new August deadline set by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Some details may emerge this week.
Designate China a currency manipulator, setting the stage for possible trade penalties because “we’re like the piggy bank that’s being robbed. We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country, and that’s what they’re doing.” Abandoned. Trump says he doesn’t want to punish China when it is cooperating in a response to North Korean provocations. He also says China has stopped manipulating its currency for unfair trade advantage. But China was moving away from that behavior well before he took office. Also set aside: repeated vows to slap high tariffs on Chinese imports.
Announce his intention to renegotiate or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. Backtracked, in essence. A draft of his administration’s plan for NAFTA proposes only a mild rewrite. But in his AP interview, he threatened anew to terminate the deal if his goals are not met in a renegotiation.
Direct his commerce secretary and trade representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly hurt American workers. Done. Trump has initiated plenty of studies over the past 100 days.
Slap a 35 percent tariff on goods from companies that ship production abroad. Force companies such as Apple and Nabisco to make their products in the U.S. Nope.
Embark on a massive $1 trillion effort to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, including airports, roads and bridges. Not yet.
Security, defense and immigration:
Immediately suspend the Syrian refugee program. Not quite. Trump tried, but the first version of his travel ban was blocked by the courts. A revised version dropped references to Syrian refugees entirely. That was blocked, too. And he has yet to mention another campaign pledge: to deport Syrian refugees already settled in the U.S.
Inform his generals they have 30 days to submit a new plan for defeating the Islamic State group. Sort of. Trump did order up a plan. It’s unclear what it is since it has yet to be made public.
Suspend immigration from “terror-prone regions” where he says vetting is too difficult. Not yet. Trump’s effort to bar immigration temporarily from some Muslim-majority countries has been stymied by courts.
Implement “extreme” immigration vetting techniques. In progress. The Homeland Security Department is considering a number of measures, like asking for visitors’ phone contacts and social media passwords.
Build an “impenetrable physical wall” along the length of the southern border, and make Mexico pay for it. Partially. The government has been soliciting bids, and test sections could be built as soon as this summer. Mexico is not paying for this work.
End federal funding to “sanctuary cities” — places where local officials are considered by Washington to be insufficiently cooperative in arresting or detaining people in the country illegally. Not yet. The Justice Department has threatened to do so, but there are legal limits.
Immediately deport the estimated 2 million “criminal aliens” living in the country, including gang members, in joint operations with local, state, and federal law enforcement. Not completely. Deportations have not increased. Arrests of people in the U.S. illegally are up and illegal border crossings are significantly down.
Cancel visas for foreign countries that won’t take back criminals deported by the U.S. No. There’s been no discussion of this yet.
“Immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties,” one of which allows young people brought into the country as children to stay and work. No. Trump has made no effort to end the program, even though it would take a single phone call. In fact, he told AP these young people can “rest easy” and not fear deportation.
Ask agency and department heads to identify job-killing regulations for elimination. Done.
Propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress. Nope.
“Drain the swamp.” Mostly no. On his pledge to curb the power of special interests, Trump has so far used an executive order to prohibit political appointees from lobbying the government for five years after serving in his administration and to ban outgoing officials from representing foreign governments. But he’s discontinuing the Obama-era practice of releasing White House visitor logs, restoring a shroud over what special interests are getting in his gates. He’s also issued at least one waiver to his lobbying ban, allowing a White House budget adviser to go advocate for a business trade group
Impose a hiring freeze on federal employees, excluding military and public safety staffers. Yes and no. This was one of Trump’s first actions. But the freeze has since been lifted.
Require that two regulations be eliminated for each new one imposed. No. Trump signed an order requiring agencies to identify two existing regulations for every new one imposed — though there is nothing in the order that requires the two to be eliminated.
End the strategy of nation-building and regime change. Too early to tell. Trump’s foreign policy posture is still in its early stages, though he has already intervened in Syria and has escalated rhetoric against North Korea.
Move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Not yet. The administration says it is studying the issue.
Negotiate the release of all U.S. prisoners held in Iran, even before taking office. Renegotiate or leave the Iran nuclear deal. Nothing yet. No prisoners have been released. The administration is studying the nuclear deal, and Trump told AP “it’s possible” the U.S. will withdraw.
Create a safe zone in Syria for refugees, paid for by the Gulf states. Not yet.
Health care, courts and guns:
“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.” Nope. The bill to replace “Obamacare” was pulled from Congress because it lacked enough support. He will try again with a revised plan.
Begin selecting a new Supreme Court judge to fill the court’s vacancy. Done. Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, and the Senate approved him.
Eliminate gun-free zones in schools and on military bases. Nope.
“I promise I will never be in a bicycle race.” So far, so good. Trump’s vow came after John Kerry, then secretary of state, broke his femur in May 2015 while riding a bicycle. He was not in a bicycle race.
Bar his generals from being interviewed on television. Never mind that. Army Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, as Trump’s national security adviser, recently appeared on a Sunday news show. Several senior military officers have done Pentagon news conferences in the past few months that are taped by the networks. Gen. John Nicholson, the top general in Afghanistan, appeared at a news conference Monday.
No time for play. Not even close. Most weekends as president, Trump has broken his pledge to avoid the golf course, after years of criticizing his predecessor for playing the game. “Because I’m going to be working for you, I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” he told a Virginia rally in August. “Believe me.”
— Associated Press writers Alicia A. Caldwell, Lolita C. Baldor and Julie Bykowicz contributed to this report.