Dec 20, 2017

Trump triumphant: a consequential, lasting end to 2017

llustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

President Trump takes a beating in the media, but he's ending 2017 on the high note of his presidency.

The big picture: You might not like his words or actions. But measured in terms of what Republican voters want and expected, he's winning on important 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 Republican Party 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.

Editor's Note: We've adjusted the why it matters paragraph for clarityBetween 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. Sign up here.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 665,164 — Total deaths: 30,852 — Total recoveries: 140,225.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 124,665 — Total deaths: 2,191 — Total recoveries: 1,095.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump announces new travel advisories for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but rules out quarantine enforcement. Per the CDC, residents of those states must now "refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days," with the exception of critical infrastructure industry workers.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters who backed Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Coronavirus updates: Global death toll tops 30,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 30,000 people around the world — with Italy reporting over 10,000 deaths, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: The number of deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. surpassed 2,000 on Saturday. The United States leads the world in confirmed coronavirus infections — more than 124,000 by early Sunday. The number of those recovered from the virus in the U.S. passed the 1,000-mark on Saturday evening.

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Gilead expands access to experimental coronavirus drug in emergency cases

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Gilead Sciences CEO Daniel O’Day said in an open letter Saturday the company is expanding access to its experimental anti-coronavirus drug remdesivir to include severely ill COVID-19 patients.

The big pig picture: President Trump has called the antiviral drug "promising," but the results of six clinical trials on this investigational medicine are still being conducted, so its effectiveness the treatment of the novel coronavirus has yet to be proved. The World Health Organization is involved in the tests.

Go deeperArrow3 hours ago - Health