Why Trump’s Next 100 Days Are More Important Than the First
White House faces crucial deadlines, draining political will on campaign pledges
President Donald Trump is playing both sides of the 100-day game.
One one hand, he is saying the 100-day milestone is meaningless, overplayed, and a phony marker.
“We still need to go after China, in one way or the other.”
There is a lot to be said for that argument. The 100-day marker came about after former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt unleashed a flurry of action in the first few weeks of his administration in early 1933, with the nation still suffering from the Great Depression. No administration since then has laid down that kind of groundwork in the first 100 days.
But the Trump administration is also touting its 100-day achievements. The White House unveiled an outline of its 100-day wins, touting the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and a slew of executive orders. Trump has also thumped a brutal dictator in Syria and brought pressure to bear on the North Koreans over their weapons of mass destruction.
On the business front, Trump has slashed regulations and allowed construction on a major oil pipeline to commence.
But for all the emphasis placed on the first 100 days, in truth it is the next 100 days for Trump that are of greater importance. That’s because Trump and the Republican-led Congress will face make-or-break tests on delivering a repeal and replace of the Affordable Care Act and passing tax reform.
The House of Representatives flubbed the passage of the American Health Care Act, which would have repealed large portions of Obamacare, in March. The failure was seen as partially the fault of a new White House that didn’t know how to extract what it wanted from Congress.
Yet Trump still had the help of Vice President Mike Pence, a House veteran who knew the key players.
The failure went deeper than first-weeks fumbles. Trump couldn’t convince Republicans to deliver on one of their own key promises, to repeal Obamacare, made years before Trump was a feasible presidential candidate. That fact shows growing pains, as well as a deep congressional GOP dysfunction the administration did not expect.
Despite the release of a proposed tax-reform package by the White House this week, plans to move on taxes on Capitol Hill have likely been put off until September. Congressional leaders have hinted tax reform may take much longer than that, and could take until the end of the year.
So Trump’s 200th day may be much more telling than his 100th. If Republicans and the White House still don’t have Obamacare repealed by then, it will be a much more telling failure than the mistakes of the first 100 days.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), a freshman conservative, said such an evaluation would be fair. But Banks told LifeZette on Thursday that Trump “has learned a lot in his first 100 days.”
Banks said he was very happy with the new Trump tax outline.
Some top Trump allies have seen Trump learn, and don’t necessarily like what they have seen. Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), a moderate conservative from Buffalo, said he was disappointed that Trump did not label China a currency manipulator. Such a label would mean repercussions for Chinese trade.
Trump’s use of trade policy as a swap for foreign policy goals — in this case, Chinese pressure on North Korea — was seen as astute by some, but far too slick for others. For now, it is arguably his largest flip-flop on any issue from his campaign stance.
“We still need to go after China, in one way or the other,” Collins told LifeZette on Thursday.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said he was happy with the tax package that Trump’s team, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, announced on Wednesday. Speaking to LifeZette, Meadows said the plan is “very aggressive.”
Meadows said there is going to be “some flexibility” on how to pay for the tax package, and over how long a period of time.
But conservatives in Congress said they were happy with Trump’s full embrace of supply-side, tax-cutting reform policies. Such policies could stimulate wages and wealth creation, they said.
The plan was generally endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Trump has plenty of time to iron out the details on a new effort to repeal Obamacare and tax reform in the next 100 days. But after the next passage of 100 days, without these two items in the bag, he could find Republican voters increasingly frustrated.