A year of dysfunction in Congress and the GOP failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act has fueled a popular narrative that President Trump has failed to get things done in Washington during his first year in office. But a review of executive actions shows how he has systematically attacked his predecessor’s legacy, rolling back or undercutting a broad array of former President Obama’s initiatives. Some of the moves have been petty, some substantial, but collectively they amount to a sweeping achievement for the rookie president.
Trump has made several moves that look trifling in the grand scheme of things, but that the president’s critics see as proof that Trump is motivated by personal animus against his predecessor. He removed the Capital Bikeshare dock from within the White House security perimeter, citing vague security concerns.
His administration reversed a so-called ban on selling bottled water in about two dozen National Parks, and scrapping a rule proposed under Obama to require airlines to disclose up front all the baggage and other fees they plan to charge you. “This is NOT how you make air travel great again,” tweeted Flyers Rights, an airline consumer group.
Affordable Care Act undermined (but not dead)
Efforts to repeal Obama’s signature health law failed in spectacular fashion in Congress. But Trump shortened the 2018 enrollment period and drastically slashed funding for advertising and community groups that help people sign up for Affordable Care Act plans. The effects are not yet known, but 2018 ACA enrollment is expected to fall short of the 12 million who signed up for 2017 coverage. Additionally, the GOP tax bill that House and Senate negotiators have hammered out would scrap the “individual mandate,” which requires that all Americans either purchase insurance or pay a tax penalty. The moves are expected to destabilize individual ACA markets in states by concentrating sick people in coverage plans. Trump’s administration also rolled back a federal mandate requiring employers to include birth control coverage in their health plan offerings.
Trump announced in June he was pulling the United States out of the 2015 global Paris climate agreement, which is supposed to reduce greenhouse gases and curb global warming. Formally, the US can’t leave the pact until 2020. Trump also approved the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, hacked away at the size of two national monuments in Utah, and launched plans to repeal rules to curb emissions of coal-fired power plants.
Pacific trade pact spiked
Just three days into his presidency, Trump pulled the US out of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact between the US and 11 Pacific Rim nations the Obama administration spent years negotiating. He has yet to make good on his promise to scrap NAFTA.
Transgender troop ban
Some see Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the US military as symbolic of a broader attempt to reverse course on the previous administration’s push to expand protections for the LGBT community. His justice department also has sided against gay plantiffs in private court cases; reversed a policy protecting transgender employees from workplace discrimination; revoked rules allowing transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice; and declined to declare June as LGBT Pride Month.
Scaled-back consumer protections
Trump’s Federal Communications Commission reversed “net neutrality’’ rules intended to maintain equal access to the Internet. Trump installed a foe of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to lead the agency. He suspended protections for student borrowers harmed by predatory lenders and for-profit schools.
Protection for ‘dreamers’ ended
Trump still has not won funding for his Mexican border wall, but he made good on another campaign promise to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program by March 2018. The program provides work permits to undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children. Obama, who has generally avoided critiquing Trump’s agenda, called that move “wrong,” “self-defeating,” and “cruel.”
Trump has had tremendous success installing conservative judges to the federal bench, most significantly getting Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the US Supreme Court. But more transformative may be the less-noticed achievement of getting a record-breaking number of federal appeals court nominees confirmed. As of last week, the Senate has confirmed 12 Trump nominees to the appellate courts this year. Obama saw just three of his picks for the federal appeals courts confirmed during his first year.