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The Trump Presidency – a 6-month report card

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This week marks the six-month anniversary of the Donald Trump presidency. Four months ago, I posted a blog (http://www.dantranscon.com/index.php/blog/entry/will-donald-trump-be-a-successful-president ) that looked at the president’s strengths and weaknesses. I thought, at the time, that this might help provide some insights into his potential for success or failure in the job. These are my thoughts at this milestone.

Clearly president Trump has made several key decisions during this period. He terminated America’s interest in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), took America out of the Paris Climate Accord, overturned president Obama’s decision to not permit the Keystone XL pipeline into America, changed the balance of America’s alliances in the Middle East, pushed hard for the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, initiated a review of America’s participation in NAFTA, instituted a ban on citizens from six primarily Muslim countries and oversaw the appointment of a new Supreme Court Judge, justice Neil Gorsuch.

While he has talked a lot about infrastructure spending, reducing taxes, building a wall between Mexico and the United States and tax reform, there have been few legislative achievements. Other than some positive stock market and employment numbers, most Americans are not seeing many tangible results from this president. Donald Trump’s overall approval rating stands at 39 percent, a historical low for a president in office for six months. On the bright side, his approval rating among Republicans stands at 85 percent. Looking back at my March blog, I now realize that my assessment of Donald Trump was largely correct. However, I now see some character traits more clearly and these traits are very problematic for him.

President Trump did have and still does have a vision of America. He frequently talks about “Make America Great Again” and about restoring lost manufacturing jobs to the United States. One of his biggest problems is that he lacks a coherent plan to make his vision a reality. Withdrawing from the Paris accord will not bring back lost coal mining jobs. Job growth in the energy sector will come from investing in the new sources that are growing rapidly. Withdrawing from TPP will hurt America’s trading relationships with countries in the Asia- Pacific region. His Make America a Loner Strategy is hurting the country’s relationships with many of its allies.

Rather than have a well-articulated vision for the future, president Trump seems far more focused on undoing the major initiatives of former president, Obama. While the Republicans hold majorities in three key bodies of the U.S. government, president Trump does not seem to understand the importance of setting priorities and picking the right battles to fight.

The Democrats are interested in Infrastructure. Reaching an agreement on Infrastructure would have been an easier battle to pick than health care, president Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. By not understanding the true issues that are the essence of the health care debate and by not leading and working with the Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the president has made his presidency much harder that it must be. By not mastering the facts of the debate and creating a clear consistent message, he has undermined his chances of success and those of his party. By switching from repeal and replace Obamacare to repeal only to repeal and replace, he has lost credibility and harmed his reputation.

The self-professed dealmaker has shown an inability to make deals. For someone who has promised that he would lead America in winning, he is suffering a series of losses. For a person who loves the limelight, he tends to go into hiding at key moments when providing knowledge and leadership are essential to success.

The Russia collusion issue is going to come under great scrutiny in the months ahead. Nobody knows how this will evolve but it will certainly impact on his concentration and agenda. To be successful, president Trump will need to learn some lessons from his very challenging first six months and take action to right the ship. If he fails, he runs the risk of losing control of at least one house of Congress in 2018. This would greatly weaken his ability to govern. If he could reach common ground with Democrats on some important issues, even health care reform, this would provide huge benefits to him and his floundering presidency. If his negotiators can turn the changes to NAFTA into a Win/Win/Win exercise, he will certainly gain more support from two of America’s largest trading partners. The whole world will be watching.

 

To stay up to date on Best Practices in Freight Management, follow me on Twitter @DanGoodwill, join the Freight Management Best Practices group on LinkedIn and subscribe to Dan’s Transportation Newspaper (http://paper.li/DanGoodwill/1342211466).

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Guest Thursday, 17 August 2017

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