State of the Union: A recap of what was promised

Last year, leading up to the Presidential Election, I did a series of posts comparing the platforms of the Democrats and Republicans.  If you want to see the whole comparison, just plug “platform” into the search bar.  You should find six different posts.

2017 was a year of Tweet-storms as our newest President played to his base.

But [tweetthis]just what got done, and how does that compare to what the Republican Platform promised? And how much of that is controlled by the President?[/tweetthis]


Just for the fun of it, [tweetthis]I found this SchoolHouse Rock video that explains the branches of government and what they each do.[/tweetthis] Do you remember SchoolHouse Rock?



[tweetthis]The President has seven roles*:[/tweetthis]

1. Chief of State

This role requires a president to be an inspiring example for the American people. As the American Chief of State, the president is a living symbol of the nation. It is considered a great honor for any citizen to shake the president’s hand.

I didn’t find any polls that measured ‘respect’ or ‘inspiration.’  I did find several articles and a PEW poll that measured ‘confidence.’  

The Pew Global Attitudes Project measures foreign opinion of the United States. That survey found that only two of the 37 countries have a more favorable opinion of the United States since Trump took office.

2. Chief Executive

The president is the “boss” for millions of government workers in the Executive Branch. He or she decides how the laws of the United States are to be enforced and chooses officials and advisors to help run the Executive Branch.

I used ProPublica as a source.  ProPublica is a well-respected, facts, based not-for-profit organization that does deep research. They published a list of 400 staffers hired that do not require approval.  If you want to see the whole list, click here.

The list we [ProPublica] obtained includes obscure campaign staffers, contributors to Breitbart and others who have embraced conspiracy theories, as well as dozens of Washington insiders who could be reasonably characterized as part of the “swamp” Trump pledged to drain.

The list is striking for how many former lobbyists it contains: We found at least 36, spanning industries from health insurance and pharmaceuticals to construction, energy and finance. Many of them lobbied in the same areas that are regulated by the agencies they have now joined.

3. Chief Diplomat

The president decides what American diplomats and ambassadors shall say to foreign governments. With the help of advisors, the president makes the foreign policy of the United States.

In broad strokes, Trump explains his policy by his campaign slogan, “American First,” which translates to some as American isolationism.

  • Trump fired all of the previous administration’s ambassadors.
  • Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
  • 38 of the 186 Ambassadorial seats remain vacant with no nominee or about 20%. (From the American Foreign Services Association website.)
  • In December, 2017, AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson wrote, “There is no denying that our leadership ranks are being depleted at a dizzying speed, due in part to the decision to slash promotion numbers by more than half. The Foreign Service officer corps at State has lost 60 percent of its Career Ambassadors since January. Ranks of Career Ministers, our three-star equivalents, are down from 33 to 19. The ranks of our two-star Minister Counselors have fallen from 431 right after Labor Day to 369 today—and are still falling.”
  • Trump pulled America out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

4. Commander-In-Chief

The president is in charge of the U.S. Armed Forces: the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. The president decides where troops shall be stationed, where ships shall be sent, and how weapons shall be used. All military generals and admirals take their orders from the president.

In mid-2017, Trump’s administration stopped disclosing the number of troops deployed to some areas of the globe. 

5. Legislative Leader

Only Congress has the actual power to make laws, but the Constitution gives the president power to influence Congress in its lawmaking. Presidents may urge Congress to pass new laws or veto bills that they do not favor.

  • Trump unsuccessfully urged Congress to repeal the ACA.  However, a key component, the individual mandate, was repealed with the tax bill
  • Trump promised to build a physical wall between the United States and Mexico.  No funding was appropriated in 2017.
  • Trump successfully urged Congress to Individual Tax Reform: H.R.1 – An Act to provide for reconciliation pursuant to titles II and V of the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2018.
  • Trump did not veto any bills in 2017.
  • During the first year of Trump’s Presidency, the 115th Congress proposed over 400 bills, 97 we passed into law. 
    • 50 Bills were initiated about International Affairs, 3 passed into Law:
      • S.371: Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017, Improvements Act This bill makes technical changes to the Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017 and other related Acts. The bill provides the House and Senate Appropriations Committees with oversight authority regarding congressional reports on: (1) high-risk diplomatic and consular posts, (2) embassy construction costs, (3) combating sexual exploitation in United Nations
      • S.1141: Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017
      • H.R.3364: Russia Sanctions Review Act of 2017
      • H.R. 534 U.S. Wants to Compete for a World Expo Act (Sec. 3) This bill calls for: (1) the United States to rejoin the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) to promote global branding, domestic job creation, and U.S. tourism; and (2) the Department of State to facilitate the timely submission of a request to rejoin…
    • S.123 Kari’s Law Act of 2017 (Sec. 2) This bill amends the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit businesses from manufacturing or importing for use in the United States, or selling or leasing in the United States, a multiline telephone system unless it is pre-configured to allow users to directly initiate a call to…
    • 50 bills were initiated about immigration, 3 passed into law.
      • S.1617 Javier Vega, Jr. Memorial Act of 2017 (Sec. 3) This bill designates the checkpoint of the U.S. Border Patrol located on U.S. Highway 77 North in Sarita, Texas, as the “Javier Vega, Jr. Border Patrol Checkpoint
      • S.504: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Travel Cards Act of 201
      • H.R.339: Northern Mariana Islands Economic Expansion Act
    • 50 bills about Crime and Law Enforcement were initiated, 8 passed into signed.
      • H.R. 1370 authorizes the Department of Homeland Security Blue Campaign Authorization Act of 2017 (Sec. 2) This bill amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to authorize in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a unified, anti-human trafficking campaign to be known as the Blue Campaign.
      • S.782 Providing Resources, Officers, and Technology To Eradicate Cyber Threats to Our Children Act of 2017 or the PROTECT Our Children Act of 2017 (Sec. 2) This bill amends the PROTECT our Children Act of 2008 to reauthorize through FY2022 the National Internet Crimes Against Children Data System
      • S.178: Robert Matava Elder Abuse Prosecution Act of 2017
      • H.R. 510 Rapid DNA Act of 2017 (Sec. 2) This bill amends the DNA Identification Act of 1994 to require the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to issue standards and procedures for using Rapid DNA instruments to analyze DNA samples of criminal offenders.
      • S.583 American Law Enforcement Heroes Act of 2017 (Sec. 2) This bill amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to include as an allowable use of grant funds under the Community Oriented Policing Services program prioritizing the hiring and training of veterans as career law enforcement officers.
      • H.J. RES40 A joint resolution that nullifies the “Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007” rule finalized by the Social Security Administration on December 19, 2016. The rule implements a plan to provide to the National Instant Criminal History Background Check System the name of an individual who meets certain criteria,…
      • H.R. 1616 H.R.1616: Strengthening State and Local Cyber Crime Fighting Act of 2017
      • S.419 Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2017 (Sec. 2) This bill amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to revise requirements for the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program.
    • 50 bills about health were introduced, 6 passed into.
      • H.R.4374: To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to authorize additional emergency uses for medical products to reduce deaths and severity of injuries caused by agents of war, and for other purposes.
      • H.R.304 Protecting Patient Access to Emergency Medications Act of 2017 (Sec. 2) This bill amends the Controlled Substances Act to direct the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to register an emergency medical services (EMS) agency to administer controlled substances
      • S.920National Clinical Care Commission Act (Sec. 2) This bill establishes within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) a National Clinical Care Commission to evaluate and make recommendations regarding improvements to the coordination and leveraging of federal programs
      • S.652: Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2017 reauthorized.
      • H.R.2430: Prescription Drug User Fee Amendments of 2017 reauthorized
      • H.J.RES43 This joint resolution nullifies a Department of Health and Human Services rule regarding subrecipients of family planning grants. (Under the rule, grant recipients may prohibit an entity from receiving a subaward only for reasons related to the entity’s ability to provide family planning services.)
    • 50 bills were initiated on the environment, 1 passed into. H.J.RES.38 nullifies the Stream Protection Rule finalized by the Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement on December 20, 2016. The rule addresses the impacts of surface coal mining operations on surface water, groundwater, and the productivity of mining operation sites.
    • 50 bills about Social Welfare came before the 115th Congress, 1 passed into law. H.R.3732: Emergency Aid to American Survivors of Hurricanes Irma and Jose Overseas Act
    • 50 bills were initiated regarding Armed Forces and National Security, 17 passed into law.
    • H.R.2228 Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Act of 2017 This bill directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to report on Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs mental health practices and services that could be adopted by law enforcement agencies.  
    • H.R.1545: VA Prescription Data Accountability Act 2017
    • S.J.RES.1: A joint resolution which proves the location within Washington, DC and the surrounding area of the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial authorized to be established under the Carl Levin and Howard P. `Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.
    • S.1266 Enhancing Veteran Care Act
    • H.R. 2810 Foreign Spill Protection Act of 2017
    • H.R. 3949 VALOR Act provides that the state approving agency for a multi-state non-federal apprenticeship program
    • H.R. 1329 Veterans Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act
    • H.R. 3819 Department of Veterans Affairs Expiring Authorities Act of 2017
    • S.114: VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017
    • H.R.2210: To designate the community living center of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Butler Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, as the “Sergeant Joseph George Kusick VA Community Living Center”.
    • H.R.3218: Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017
    • S.114: VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017
    • S.1094: Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017
    • S.544: A bill to amend the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 to modify the termination date for the Veterans Choice Program, and for other purposes.
    • H.R.1362: To name the Department of Veterans Affairs community-based outpatient clinic in Pago Pago, American Samoa, the Faleomavaega Eni Fa’aua’a Hunkin VA Clinic.
    • S.305: Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017
    • H.R.609: To designate the Department of Veterans Affairs health care center in Center Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, as the “Abie Abraham VA Clinic”.
    • S.84: A bill to provide for an exception to a limitation against appointment of persons as Secretary of Defense within seven years of relief from active duty as a regular commissioned officer of the Armed Forces.

6. Chief of Party

In this role, the president helps members of his or her political party get elected or appointed to office. The president campaigns for those members who have supported his or her policies. At the end of a term, the president may campaign for reelection.

Trump endorsed Luther Strange and Roy Moore who both lost their bids.

7. Guardian of the Economy

In this role, the president is concerned with such things as unemployment, high prices, taxes, business profits, and the general prosperity of the country. The president does not control the economy, but is expected to help it run smoothly.

I found quite a bit of dispute about how much influence a President can have on the economy.  Most agreed that the impact cannot be measured in the first year because most economic takes time to measure. Trump’s economic plan or MAGAnomics or Trumponomics is described by Wikipedia:

His signature economic policy proposals  include trade protectionism, immigration reduction, individual and corporate tax reform, the dismantling of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). Bills to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) did not pass Congress in mid-2017. However, Trump’s tax reform plan was signed into law in December 2017, which included substantial tax cuts for higher income taxpayers and corporations as well as repeal of a key Obamacare element, the individual mandate. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) reported that the new tax law would increase the debt by $1.4 trillion over a decade ($1.0 trillion after macroeconomic feedback effects), in addition to a nearly $11 trillion debt increase forecast under prior law and the $20 trillion existing national debt. JCT also expected it to slightly increase the size of the economy (level of GDP) by 0.8% total over a decade.The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that lower-income groups would incur net costs, either paying higher taxes or receiving fewer government benefits: those under $20,000 by 2019; those under $40,000 from 2021-2025; and those under $75,000 in 2027 and beyond. Up to 13 million fewer persons would be covered by health insurance relative to prior law, due to repealing the individual mandate to have health insurance. As a result, critics argued the tax bill unfairly benefited higher-income taxpayers and corporations at the expense of lower-income taxpayers, and therefore would significantly increase income inequality.During 2017, economic growth increased over the prior year, with around 3% annualized growth rates in Q2 and Q3. While job creation was marginally slower than 2016 through November,the unemployment rate fell and labor force participation among prime-aged workers (age 25–54) improved. Both the budget deficit and trade deficit were higher than the prior year. The stock market and household net worth continued to climb beyond 2016 record levels. Trump initiated several deregulatory efforts regarding banking, net neutrality, and the environment.

More on the progress of the Republican Platform before January is over.

Now I plan to take a nap.