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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.

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Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Jake Sullivan discussed Saudi-Israel normalization with MBS

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg and Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan raised normalization with Israel during his recent meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, three U.S. and Arab sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Saudi Arabia would be the biggest regional player to sign onto the "Abraham Accords" peace agreement with Israel, and such a major breakthrough would likely convince other Arab and Muslim countries to follow suit.

Tech's leaky world

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Tech companies are learning what everyone in Washington already knows: Leaks of confidential info are inevitable, and "plumbing" operations to close them rarely work.

Why it matters: Most tech firms talk up the power of transparency but prefer to keep details of their operations secret from competitors and the public. Researchers, regulators and the media are increasingly relying on information provided by dissident employees and whistleblowers to see inside companies' workings.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

First look: Harris wants more union membership in fed workforce

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at a virtual town hall with Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) on Oct. 14. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will today announce new guidelines to encourage federal workers to join unions, according to a White House official.

Why it matters: The Biden administration wants to bolster the collective bargaining power of workers across the country – and they are starting at home, with changes in the federal workforce.

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