Two weeks of insight: Between now and New Year's Day, Axios CEO Jim VandeHei and I will bring AM readers our year-end thoughts on the topics that matter most ...
President Trump takes a beating in the media, but he's ending 2017 on the high note of his presidency.
You might not like his words or actions. But measured in terms of what Republican voters want and expected, he's winning on consequential and lasting fronts:
- The tax bill passed with almost unanimous Republican support, before the end of the year, and in keeping with mostly mainstream conservative orthodoxy. Trump won a bigger corporate tax break than either Bush ever got, and will sign the most consequential new tax law in 30 years. And he followed through on cutting taxes for most small businesses and most Americans. He did this without losing a single GOP senator — even his harshest critics.
- He failed to repeal all of Obama's health-care law. But Trump axed the individual mandate with the tax bill, and has chipped away at other parts of the law's foundation. Again, you might hate the outcome. But it's a significant step to blowing up a program most Republicans demanded be destroyed.Axios health-care editor Sam Baker emails: "The smaller administrative steps Trump has taken — an executive order, cuts to enrollment outreach, ending a critical stream of funding for insurers — [are cumulatively] weakening the ACA's insurance exchanges and prompting some insurers to question whether those markets are worth the trouble."
- Trump has tilted the court rightward in lasting ways. Justice Neil Gorsuch was a substantial, conservative addition to the Supreme Court. And it wasn't a one-off: The dozen new U.S. Circuit Court judges he has named is the most during a president's first year in office in more than a century.
- Trump has followed through on eviscerating regulations, many of them imposed by Obama. He has revoked 67, and delayed or derailed more than 1,500 others.
- No matter that much of it is not of his doing, the economy has grown consistently under his watch.
- ISIS is in retreat. The N.Y. Times' Ross Douthat calls it "A War Trump Won."
Why it matters: The media often appraises presidencies and politics through liberal-tinted glasses. But the vast majority of the majority like, even love, these policies. (Worth noting: A majority of America opposes Trump and most of his policies.)
Be smart: We have been saying all year: Watch what he does, not what he says. Until recently, he hasn't done much. But these wins are substantial, with consequences for millions of people and many years to come.
- Never underestimate the power of one party controlling all of government. Even with a slow start, constant distractions, ongoing investigations, the Trump GOP reengineered big chunks of our lives. Elections matter.
Be mindful: These short-term wins pack big long-term consequence. If people lose health coverage, or see only the rich benefiting from tax cuts, or deficits threatening growth and stability, the Trump GOP will own it all.