The IAP is hopefully optimistic about the POTUS (President of the United States) #45, but we are beginning our ‘Scorecard’ for President Trump’s Administration to evaluate this new president - after all, as President Truman said, as well as having a plaque on his desk with the sentiment:
“The Buck Stops Here”
During the ‘transition’ rush, Trump and his pre-administration cadre had the daunting task of vetting and appointing several thousand people to positions in the administration. While not able to accomplish this task, Trump did a good job getting several key positions filled. Not all of the appointees required confirmation hearings, but those who required such hearings got underway January 10th of 2017.
Of the cabinet appointments, alone, Trump had only one blip, when he picked retired US Army General Mike Flynn to fill the National Security Advisor position. Flynn resigned after three weeks and retired US Army General H.R. McMasters replaced Flynn. Despite significant opposition to several of his nominees, Trump got his way with his picks, losing only one, Secretary of Labor appointee Andrew Puzder who withdrew due to opposition (replaced by the Trump’s first Latino cabinet member, Alex Acosta, who served on the NLRB in the Bush Administration). He kept two appointees from the previous administration: James Comey as Director of the FBI and Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve Chair.
Generally, in the estimation of most observers Trumps selections have several hits and misses. Reince Preibus as Chief of Staff, coming over from the RNC Chair, was a no-brainer. Steve Bannon appointment as ‘Chief Strategist’ and member of the National Security Team didn’t last the full 100 days – thank goodness. Preibus’ job is in the background and Bannon was too much of a ‘bomb-thrower’ to work well with others, so both were ‘as expected.’
Others have been surprises such as the former governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the UN; appointing a couple of former rivals for the POTUS Chair in Dr. Ben Carson becoming the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy; selecting Linda McMahon, CEO of the Professional Wrestling empire of WWE and CEO of Womens Leadership Live LLC, as Secretary of the Small Business Administration.
Trump has eleven (11) appointments which previously held elected office, four (4) former governors, one (1) former senator, four (4) former congressmen and two (2) former state attorney generals (Gov. Halley [UN Amb.], Perry [Secty of Energy]were joined by Gov Terry Bransten of Iowa [Amb. to China] and Gov. Sonny Perdue of Georgia [Secty of Agriculture]; Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama [Atty. Gen.]; Congressmen Tom Price of Georgia [Secty of Health and Health Services], Mike Pompeo of Kansas [Director of the CIA], Ryan Zinke of Montana [Secty of Interior], and Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina [Office of Management and Budget]; Scott Pruett, former AG of Oklahoma [EPA]. Then there is the wife of Sen Mitch McConnell, Elaine Chao, who was Secretary of Labor under Bush-#43 who is now the Secretary of Transportation.
Trump has also tapped into his business connections with Goldman-Sachs hedge fund manager and Dune Capital’s Steve Mnuchin for Secretary of Treasury; billionaire business man Wilbur Ross as Secretary of Commerce, or former CEO of Exxon/Mobil Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, President of Goldman Sachs Gary Cohn as Director of the National Economic Council, or Seema Verma, CEO and founder of SVC [Administrator of the Center for Medicare/Medicaid]; and those are only a few of the ones we know about!
Of the over 4000 appointments possible, several hundred have been filled. Several hundred more have been kept from the previous administration, mostly a bunch of Federal Attorneys and lower level administrators. One important White House staffer has only recently been filled, the White House Communication Director. March 6th President Trump named Michael Dubke would be the White House Communication Director, after several turned down the job. Dubke is the founder of a conservative communications firm Crossroads Media.
One bit of controversy, in addition to the Russian involvement and influence in the Election, is the role of Jared Kushner, Trumps son-in-law, and Ivanka Trump-Kushner advisory roles at a no-pay/volunteer status. Presidents have been exempted from nepotism regulations incumbent on all other elected officials and bureaucrats, but most of the public aren’t so sure about it. This is one issue we will have yet to see where it goes.
Who is Advising President Trump?
Several critics (among them Joel Skousen and Robert Gorgoglione) have apprehensions regarding Trump. He is an unknown quantity. A billionaire businessman, never having held elected office, having pandered and donated to both Republicans and Democrats, shifting stands on issues . . . it is no wonder there are questions. And then there is his habit of tweeting, the first president to use twitter so extensively!
Despite pledging to “Drain the Swamp,” Trump has put a lot of ‘alligators’ into appointed positions (as obliquely mentioned above). But who really has his ear? Who is he listening to? Who is advising him?
As Americans have seen before what the wrong advisors can do; namely, get the President (and the Nation) in trouble with wrong-headed assumptions, ill-fated advice, etc. President Carter was one such president, as have been several others over matters such as different views on economics, critical evaluations of different countries, whether or not we should invade or do battle, intervening here or there, etc.
Skousen states flatly: “I think Trump would like to keep his promises, but he doesn’t have the intellectual ammunition or good advice on how to counter all the demands and machinations of Washington insiders.” (aka: alligators of ‘The Swamp’ – see those starred below *) Among those ‘alligators’ is the has-been Newt Gingrich, a former speaker of the house (’95-’99) and Congressman from Georgia, infamous for his ‘Contract (ON or) for America.” Again Skousen pointed states: “Gingrich is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, very slick and dangerous. Even Trump is wary of him privately, and that is why Gingrich works the Trump advisors.”
Quoting a NY Times (22 April 2017) on the cadre of Trump’s White House advisors: “(President Donald) Trump’s West Wing aides, like President Bill Clinton’s staff two decades before, say they sometimes cringe at the input from people they can’t control, with consequences they can’t predict. Knowing these advisers - who are mostly white, male and older - is a key to figuring out the words coming from Mr.Trump’s mouth and his Twitter feed.”
Among the ’20+ Trump Touchstones’ are:
Rupert Murdock (FoxNews Mogul)
Chris Ruddy (NewsMax CEO)
Sean Hannity (Fox Host)
Stephen Schwarzman (CEO Blackstone Group)
Roger J. Stone Jr. (claims access; however, he was ‘fired’ from the inner circle, but he loves the attention)
Richard LeFrak (lifelong friend, Mar-a-Lago member, a ‘soothing voice’ for Trump)
Sheri A Dillon (Trump Tax Attorney -- Michael Cohen, is Trump’s personal lawyer)
Corey Lewandowski (Trump’s first campaign manager, who never went away)
Thomas Barrack Jr (loyal fellow Billionaire & Peer)
Steve Roth (RealEstate Tycoon)
Phil Ruffin (business partner for 20 years)
Carl Icahn (wealthy 81-yr-old Peer)
Ike Perlmutter (Marvel Comics CEO)
Robert Kraft (NE Patriots owner, Democrat & Mar-a-Lago crony)
Melania Trump (the First Lady)
The Sons: Donald Jr., Eric Trump, and especially his Son-in-law Jared Kutchner (married to Ivanka, who could also be counted!)
Chris Christie* (Gov of N.J.)
Paul Ryan *(Spkr of the House)
Newt Gingrich *(former Spkr of the House, ’95-’99; Congressman from Georgia -- two former Gingrich staffers and a spokesman work in the West Wing).
Many of the above are consulted off and on, but at least one a week, by POTUS45 . . .except for Stone, who is literally past-tense!
His First 100
As of April 27, Trump has survived his first 100 days. Granted, the 100 day benchmark is not a good or viable measure of ANY administration, but it is an easy point to compare ALL administ-rations, so we are stuck with it. Realizing it takes more than 100 days to learn what a POTUS can and is meant to do, let’s look at just that as a benchmark for the Trump Administration. What has he done, not claimed to have done but actually accomplished?
Of the many areas one could ‘measure’ the 100 days, where does one start? With the myriad claims? How does one check them all?? PolitiFact? GOP? The White House?? Yeah, right!
Claims such as:
“President Trump has passed more legislation in his first 100 days than any president since Harry Truman” by Tom McClintock -- PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter says: MOSTLY TRUE, Lots of signings, but no major legislation; a meaningless stat (it must have been all those Executive Orders, right?)
Pres. Trump’s claim: “For the first time in the modern political era, we have confirmed a new justice (to the Supreme Court) in the first 100 days.” -- PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter says: MOSTLY TRUE, one of the few to have the chance.
Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s Treasury Secty., claimed Trump “has given more financial disclosure than anybody else.” -- PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter says: FALSE, Trump hasn’t released his tax returns.
Trump claim: “The Ninth Circuit has an overturned record ‘close to 80%’” -- PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter says: HALF TRUE, there’s two ways to look at it.
Center for American Progress Action Fund claimed “A trip to Mar-a-Lago costs taxpayers approximately $3.6 million, according to a Government Accountability Office report.” -- PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter says: HALF TRUE, likely costs millions.
Trump’s claim on whether NATO is “obsolete.” -- PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter says: FULL FLIP FLOP, reason for flip-flopping is suspect.
Marco Rubio’s claim: The Obama administration’s 2013 Syria proposal “had no clear objective,” while Trump’s Syria strike “had a clear strategic objective.” -- PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter says: FALSE, faulty memory of 2013.
“Donald Trump went into the White House with a mandate to break with tradition. “In many ways, he’s embracing it. “As he marks 100 days in office, Trump has adopted more establishment-friendly positions, as well as habits of his predecessor, than his campaign persona let on. “He has changed his position on a dozen key promises and positions, our analysis found. “He’s spent numerous weekends away from the White House at his private Florida retreat, after years of lambasting President Obama for traveling on taxpayer dollars. And he is outpacing Obama’s time on the green.
“And despite his campaign rallying cry to ‘drain the swamp,’ Trump has filled his White House staff and Cabinet with billionaires, donors, former politicians and Wall Street financiers. “Even as a candidate, it was tough to pin down Trump’s positions. “As president, it appears his changes in position come from learning on the job. “Trump decided that he would no longer call China a currency manipulator, for example, after his first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he learned China hadn’t manipulated its currency for months and that he needs to maintain a good relationship with China to address the North Korea threat. “In an interview with the Associated Press April 21, Trump admitted that when he originally said NATO was ‘obsolete’ during the campaign, he made the claim ‘not knowing much about NATO, now I know a lot about NATO.’ “’Every decision is much harder than you’d normally make,’ he told AP, speaking about how the office has affected him. ‘This is involving death and life and so many things.’” (Tracking Donald Trump’s flip-flops in his first 100 days, by Lauren Carroll, of PolitiFact, April 27, 2017 11:30 a.m.)
‘Regulatory burden’ spread is $7.6 Billion in 100 days
Leaving the flip-flops behind, the American Action Forum has done several pieces on Trump’s successes, so far. One was looking at his regulatory record compared to the past administration’s record. They came up with a regulatory cost difference, just during the first 100 days of Trump and Obama, totaling nearly $4 Billion difference in regulatory burdens – but that’s not all.
An article, by Sam Batkins, puts it “Even though transitions are not a time of peak regulatory activity, President Obama managed to impose $4 Billion in total, net present value regulatory costs, compared to $28 Million from President Trump, or less than one percent of Obama’s total. On an annual basis, the Obama Administration still published more than $2.1 Billion in costs, compared to less than $100 Million during this administration.”
Central to the AAF’s argument was the Executive Order Trump signed “repealing two rules for every new regulation and achieving $0 in net regulatory costs by the end of the fiscal year, this is a necessary condition for the type of significant reform this administration seeks.”
“What is perhaps more striking than the” amount of the Total Final Rule Costs, already mentioned, “is the number of major rules from cabinet agencies during the first 100 days. President Obama approved nine major rules totaling more than $3.1 Billion in burdens. Officially, President Trump has approved zero new major regulations, but the ‘Market Stabilization’ rule for health care markets and an official delay of the ‘Fiduciary Rule’ were both economically significant and will be labeled major soon. However, the Fiduciary Rule delay cut costs by $78 Million and the stabilization measure did not impose any new burdens. Thus, the major rules under the Trump Administration have actually contributed to his vision of fewer regulatory costs.
“There have been several lawsuits aimed at the administration’s regulatory agenda . . . However, even those actions aren’t reflected [here]. It represents only final rules published in the Federal Register from Presidents Obama and Trump. . . .