President Donald Trump on Friday claimed that he won’t get the credit he deserves for the first 100 days of his administration, seeking to manage expectations around what he called the “ridiculous standard” of the upcoming milestone date.
“No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!” Trump tweeted on Friday morning.
“Next week doesn’t matter,” he told reporters.
In fact, Congress returns from a two-week Easter recess next week facing a Friday deadline to fund the government or risk a shutdown. Trump said earlier Friday that his administration would unveil its tax reform plan next Wednesday. And there’s also a possibility that GOP leaders could hold a vote on legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare in the hopes of giving the Trump administration a major legislative victory as it marches toward Day 100.
But Trump on Friday afternoon said there’s “no particular rush” to push health care reform through and that it “doesn’t matter if it’s next week” or comes after his first 100 days.
Trump’s dismissive tone toward the 100-day mark is a notable shift from his campaign rhetoric, considering he issued in late October a contract with voters that included a “100-day action plan to Make America Great Again.” On some points, like green-lighting the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and instituting a temporary hiring freeze on all federal workers, Trump has already followed through.
On others, like his promise to label China a currency manipulator on Day One of his presidency and his pledge to cancel all funding to so-called sanctuary cities, Trump has yet to deliver or has reversed himself. On some points in the contract, including those limiting lobbying by White House officials, it is unclear to what extent directives from the president are effective in fighting the government corruption Trump railed against on during the campaign.
While Trump has made good on some major campaign promises — including nominating and securing confirmation for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and pulling the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal — his early presidency has also been marked by some high-profile failures.
Most notably, the first attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare collapsed amid resistance from conservatives who thought it didn’t go far enough and moderates who were anxious about voters losing health care coverage. Newly eager to claim a victory before the 100-day mark on April 29, the White House this week began pressuring Congress to pass a new version of the repeal legislation by the end of next week, even though it is unclear whether such a bill would have more success than the GOP’s initial version.
Trump’s travel ban, the policy version of a proposal that began during the GOP primary as a promise to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S., also has stumbled. The rollout of the initial executive order prompted mass confusion and massive protests at U.S. airports and some green card holders were barred from entering the country. That iteration of the ban was stayed by a federal judge, as was a second version signed by the president that was intended to circumvent the first judge’s stay order.
Despite those shortcomings, Trump and others in the White House have publicly suggested that his administration has been more successful through its opening months than any in history. During a day trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, this week, Trump declared that “no administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.”
“That includes on military, on the border, on trade, on regulation, on law enforcement — we love our law enforcement — and on government reform,” he continued, touting success even though his administration cannot yet boast of a major legislative victory.
Short on wins when it comes to domestic policy, Trump has seemingly turned his attention abroad in recent weeks in a series of moves that have been mostly well-received. Without lawmakers to get in his way, the president has flexed his foreign policy muscle in dealings with other world leaders and in strikes against terrorist networks.
The president has received mostly positive marks for his decision to launch a missile strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad for its use of chemical weapons in a rebel-controlled region of Syria. That move drew a sharp contrast between Trump and his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, who threatened action against Assad should he use chemical weapons but did not follow through when the Syrian dictator did just that.
The missile strikes against Assad also put Trump in direct opposition to the Russian government, positioning that could benefit a president whose campaign has been accused of colluding with the Kremlin to win the White House (Trump has denied such allegations). The president’s warm words for Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatively common during last year’s election, have also come to an almost complete stop.
Faced with the most recent bout of saber-rattling from the North Korean government, Trump has sought to pressure China, North Korea’s principal international benefactor, into corralling the bellicose rhetoric and nuclear ambitions of dictator Kim Jong Un.
To do so, Trump has seemingly backtracked from the get-tough-with-China approach to foreign policy he prescribed on the campaign trail. Seeking cooperation with the Chinese, the president has already backed away from his pledge to declare China a currency manipulator on Day One and has said publicly that he would be willing to offer more favorable terms in his promised renegotiation of trade policy with the Chinese government if they are able to rein in North Korea.
Maintaining some portion of his past hard-line stance, Trump has warned that if China is unwilling or unable to corral North Korea, the U.S. and its allies are prepared to do so on their own. Echoing that sentiment, Vice President Mike Pence said this week that “the era of strategic patience is over” when it comes to U.S. policy toward North Korean provocations.
And just as tensions with the Kim regime seemed to peak last week, The U.S. military dropped one of its largest non-nuclear bombs, dubbed “the mother of all bombs,” on a system of caves and tunnels maintained by the Islamic State in a remote region of Afghanistan. The bomb was delivered apparently without any civilian casualties and the White House was vague as to whether the president personally approved its use.
It was the first time the U.S. had used the weapon and asked what its deployment might convey to North Korea, Trump said, “I don’t know if this sends a message. It doesn’t make any difference if it does or not. North Korea is a problem. The problem will be taken care of.”
But Trump’s successes abroad have not yet been replicated at home. Republican lawmakers are skeptical that Congress can fulfill Trump’s wishes of both passing an Obamacare replacement bill and a funding bill that would keep the government open beyond a deadline of next Friday at midnight.
Still, when asked during a news conference on Thursday about whether health care or avoiding a government shutdown was a higher priority, Trump refused to choose.
“I wanna get both,” Trump said alongside Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. “Are you shocked to hear that?”
Trump also tried to minimize the previous failed effort on health care, reminding reporters that Obamacare was an effort that took roughly a year-and-half, and, he noted, he’s only had about two months to negotiate a better health deal.
“This has really been two months, and this is a continuation. And the plan gets better and better and better, and it’s gotten really, really good,” Trump said. “And a lot of people are liking it a lot. We have a good chance of getting it soon. I’d like to say next week, but it will be — I believe we will get it, and whether it’s next week or shortly thereafter.”
“As far as keeping the government open,” he added, “I think we wanna keep the government open. Don’t you agree? So yeah, I think we’ll get both.”
By: Nolan D. McCaskill