Thursday, March 02, 2017

Trump Tracker ... How's he doing so far

Donald Trump came into office promising to change the face of American politics and transfer power "back to the people". WELL ??? Since Mr Trump has no confidence in American journalists or American polls, The BBC, the globally respected British media company  is conducting it's own analysis and polls.

After four weeks in the White House, he said "incredible progress" had been made, having signed some two dozen executive actions and put his signature to several bills. He also fired his scandal-hit national security adviser and an acting attorney general, who defied his seven-nation travel ban, which later suffered an appeals court defeat.
So what has President Trump achieved so far? In the weeks and months to come, we'll be tracking the progress he makes on his agenda and how it is received by the American public.

What executive actions has Trump taken?
One way President Trump is able to exercise political power is through unilateral executive orders and memoranda, which allow him to bypass the legislative process in Congress in certain policy areas.
While it may appear that President Trump has been signing executive actions at an unprecedented rate, he has signed less than President Obama did during the same period in office.

Chart showing the number of executive orders signed by President Trump compared to President Obama

Mr Trump has used many of these actions to deliver on some of his campaign promises, but many of his promises cannot be fulfilled by executive action alone.
For example, his first executive order was designed to limit the effect of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, but his promise of repealing and replacing it can only be enacted by Congress.

How are his approval ratings?
When Mr Trump took the oath of office on the 20th of January he did so with the lowest approval rating of any incoming president.
He dismissed those polls as "rigged" but the strength of the opposition to him was evident when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets the day after his inauguration.
Most presidents begin their term with strong approval numbers, but President Trump has bucked that trend. While both George W Bush and Barack Obama were enjoying approval numbers in the 60s after one month in office, Mr Trump is around the 40% mark.

Graphic showing the approval ratings of the last four US presidents after they had been in office for one month

Mr Trump won the election with low approval numbers so it's unsurprising they're still low, but the scandal over his team's contacts with Russia and his controversial travel ban have kept them falling.
Do the numbers matter? Maybe not, for now. Republicans control both the House and Senate so in theory he can pursue his legislative agenda without worrying about his ratings - as long as he keeps his Republican colleagues on side.
But if his ratings stay low or fall further, expect some dissenting voices to emerge in the party as Republicans start to worry about midterm elections in 2018.
For now though, there are signs that many of Mr Trump's supporters are happy with his progress, although others would hardly call it that.

How is the economy faring under Trump?
When Barack Obama became president in 2009, the US was in the midst of its worst recession since the 1930s, with the economy shedding 800,000 jobs in his first month. But after a few dips later that year, the US economy saw its longest ever period of job creation. In total, 11.3 million jobs were created under President Obama.
President Trump, however, described the economy as a "mess" and said he had "inherited many problems".

Chart showing the number of jobs lost or created in the US since 2005

President Obama and the tale of US jobs:
During the campaign, Mr Trump vowed to create 25 million jobs over 10 years and become "the greatest jobs president... ever".
He also accused Mexico and China of stealing millions of jobs and vowed to "bring our jobs home". But research suggests most of the manufacturing jobs that America has shed in recent years have been lost to increased automation at factories, rather than companies moving abroad.
We'll be keeping track of the monthly jobs report to see what progress he makes and we'll also be paying close attention to the manufacturing industry.
In the short term, however, President Trump has cited the stock market as a sign that his policies are already having an effect on the economy, saying there has been a "tremendous surge of optimism in the business world".

Chart showing how the S&P 500 has fared since Donald Trump won the election

The Dow, S&P, 500 and Nasdaq indexes all closed at record highs on 15 February in a partial sign at least that investors were encouraged by Mr Trump's planned infrastructure projects, deregulation and tax cuts. But the president will need to avoid the backlash that followed his ban on immigrants coming into the US from seven mainly Muslim countries if he wants the stock market to continue hitting new highs.
All of the three major indexes fell slightly after Mr Trump's controversial executive order caused protests at airports across the country - and Silicon Valley lashed out at the president as well.

Has Trump moved to cut illegal immigration?
Immigration was President Trump's signature issue during the election campaign and he has signed a number of executive orders designed to fulfil his promises.
One of his first orders declared that the US would build a "physical wall" or similar "impassable physical barrier" - to the delight of all of those Americans who spent 2016 chanting: "Build the wall!"
It remains to be seen how Mr Trump will pay it, although he has repeatedly insisted that the US will recoup the costs from the Mexican government, despite their leaders saying otherwise.
There is already some 650 miles of fencing along the border, but we'll monitor what progress President Trump makes in turning it into what he has called the "Great Wall".

Tweet by Donald Trump

Mr Trump used another order on border security to say 10,000 more immigration officers would be hired to track down illegal immigrants. But this will be a long process and newly appointed Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said it was unlikely to happen "within the next couple of years".
The new president's talk of a crackdown on illegal immigrants makes it sound as if they had an easy ride under President Obama, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest the opposite is true.
Between 2009 and 2015, the Obama administration deported more than 2.5 million people - most of whom had been convicted of some form of criminal offence or were recent arrivals - leading some to label President Obama the "deporter-in-chief".

Chart show the number of illegal immigrants being deported from the US

While President Trump is yet to change US immigration laws, he did sign two memos on 20 February that instructed immigration officers to take a much tougher approach towards enforcing existing measures.  The new policy is so broad as to include just about every class of undocumented immigrant - more than 11 million by most estimates.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Mr Trump "wanted to take the shackles off" immigration officials but insisted the move would not mean mass deportations.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has launched a series of raids across the country since Mr Trump was elected, but it's still too early to say if deportation arrests have increased.

What has been done on healthcare?
Healthcare was an early test for President Trump and the Republican Party. President Obama's Affordable Care Act helped more than 20 million previously-uninsured Americans to finally get health cover - but Mr Trump said he would act quickly to "repeal and replace" it.  While the Republican-controlled Congress has started efforts to repeal what's known as Obamacare, it is still unclear whether they will try to replace it completely or just repair elements of it.

Chart showing how the number of Americans without health insurance in the US fell under President Obama

The scheme has faced several problems along the way and premium hikes in 2016 helped the Republicans frame it as a failure during the election campaign.
But a report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that 18 million people could lose their insurance within a year if Congress repealed parts of it without having a new system in place.
Senior Republicans have said legislation to replace it will be unveiled in March but several recent polls have suggested that support for Obama's ACA is actually growing.

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