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Trump Tracker: How Much Has the President Achieved so Far?

Donald Trump came into office promising to change the face of American politics and transfer power "back to the people". We are tracking the progress he makes on his agenda and how it is received by the American public.

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So what has he achieved so far? We’re tracking the president’s progress 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.

He wasted little time in using this tool, moving to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, cut business regulations and push ahead with the construction of two controversial pipelines.

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While it may appear that he has used executive actions at an unprecedented rate, he signed about the same amount as President Obama did during his first weeks in office, though he has since pulled ahead.

Trump Tracker: How Much Has the President Achieved so Far?

Several of President Trump’s executive actions have been designed to deliver on some of his campaign promises, but they are limited in their power.

While executive orders can be used to change how federal agencies use their resources, they cannot assign those agencies new funds or introduce new laws – both of those powers are held by Congress.

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For example, Mr Trump’s first executive order was designed to limit the effect of the Affordable Care Act, but his campaign promise of repealing and replacing it can only be enacted by Congress because it requires new legislation.

How are his approval ratings?

When Mr Trump took the oath of office on 20 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 around 60% in early April, Mr Trump was at the 40% mark.

Trump Tracker: How Much Has the President Achieved so Far?

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 bans have kept them falling. At the moment, it’s unclear how his military strike on Syria will affect his standing in the polls.

Still, Mr Trump’s attempts to cut business regulation and his hard line on immigration have impressed many of his supporters – and his pick for the Supreme Court has now been confirmed, restoring its conservative majority. His approval with Republican voters remains above 80%.

So does his overall approval rating 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.

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 fulfill his promises.

One of his first orders declared that the US would build a “physical wall” or “impassable physical barrier” along the border with Mexico, which already has some 650 miles of fencing.

But Mr Trump needs the funds to be approved by Congress before construction can begin and that is yet to happen. He insists the costs will be recouped from Mexico, despite their leaders saying otherwise.

While President Trump is yet to change US immigration laws, he has signed two executive memos that instruct immigration officers to take a much tougher approach towards enforcing existing measures.

There are signs that this change in immigration enforcement – and President Trump’s tough rhetoric – may have led to a drop in the number of people trying to cross illegally into the US.

In March, the number of people apprehended while crossing from Mexico fell to its lowest level for 17 years, according to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

Mr Kelly said the drop was “no accident” and the Customs and Border Protection agency said President Trump’s executive orders had led to a “marked change in trends”.

Trump Tracker: How Much Has the President Achieved so Far?

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 2009-15, 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”.

But an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants still live in the US, many from Mexico.

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.

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.

Mr Trump has previously dismissed those numbers as “phony” and after his inauguration he described the economy as a “mess”.

But when the monthly report was released in March, showing 235,000 jobs had been added to the workforce in February, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said it was “great news for American workers”.

Trump Tracker: How Much Has the President Achieved so Far?

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.

President Trump, however, 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”.

Trump Tracker: How Much Has the President Achieved so Far?

The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes all saw record highs during President Trump’s first few weeks, in a partial sign at least that investors were encouraged by Mr Trump’s planned infrastructure projects, deregulation and tax cuts.

All three, however, saw their growth slow down in March as it began to look like the mooted tax reforms may not happen quite as quickly as the Trump administration had previously suggested.

What has been done on healthcare?

Healthcare was always going to be an early test for President Trump after he made it a centerpiece of his election campaign.

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 “immediately repeal and replace” it.

Republicans eventually unveiled their long-awaited draft healthcare bill at the beginning of March, with House Speaker Paul Ryan describing it as “monumental, exciting conservative reform”.

President Trump backed the bill but it received a damning assessment from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a nonpartisan federal agency, which said it would result in 24 million more uninsured Americans by 2026.

Trump Tracker: How Much Has the President Achieved so Far?

The Trump administration said it “strenuously disagreed” with the CBO analysis, but the bill was abandoned on 24 March after it failed to win enough support from Republicans in Congress.

It was an embarrassing episode for President Trump and the Republican Party, who control the presidency and both chambers of the Congress for the first time in 11 years.

Mr Trump did his best to shrug off the defeat, saying his administration would return to “piece together a great healthcare plan” once Obamacare had “exploded”.

While Obamacare has had its problems since it was introduced in 2010, it shows few signs of collapsing in the near future and the CBO analysis said its market places were “stable in most areas”.

That could change if President Trump and his Republican colleagues move to cut funding for the programe’s subsidies, but that would be a risky strategy ahead of mid-term elections next year, especially as recent polls suggest support for Obamacare is actually growing.


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