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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

At least 3 dead after Amtrak train derails in Montana

Photo: Jacob Cordeiro/Twitter

An Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana, resulting in at least three deaths and multiple injuries to passengers and crew on Saturday, per authorities and a company statement.

The big picture: 141 passengers and 16 crew members were estimated to be on the Empire Builder train, traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland, when eight of the 10 cars derailed about 4p.m., Amtrak said early Sunday.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court is set to hear a challenge Wednesday to a vaccine mandate planned for New York City school employees.

Why it matters The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system. But a judge on Friday temporarily blocked the measure, per AP.

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City.. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.

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