By the time President Donald J. Trump scored his first big legislative victory, 2017 was almost over. That victory was his tax-cut bill. The new law lowers corporate tax rates from 35 to 21 percent and reduces individual tax rates while adding new tax breaks. It also seeks to weaken the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) by removing the mandate which requires people to buy insurance. On multiple tries during his first year, Trump was unable to effect an outright repeal of Obamacare so he has sought to undermine the law instead. Finally, the tax-cut bill also allows for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Earlier in December 2017, President Trump formally declared that Israel’s capital is Jerusalem. This move reversed nearly 70 years of United States foreign policy on the matter. Trump stated, “Today we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.” The U.S. Embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to the newly-recognized capital city. The United Nations, which Trump has often criticized, overwhelmingly voted to condemn the decision.
One of the president’s most controversial plans was to step up immigration enforcement. While his promised border wall has made almost no progress, he did institute a travel ban which sought to prevent most people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. The ban was legally challenged but, by the end of the year, the Supreme Court had temporarily stayed injunctions issued by lower courts in order to give the government a chance to appeal. Raids targeted at illegal immigrants spiked and the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plans to further increase such activity in 2018.michelle obama,
In addition to the aforementioned undermining of Obamacare, Trump has issued executive orders to overturn other Obama-era rules. Trump reduced rules for small businesses, expanded oil drilling in the Arctic and Gulf of Mexico, weakened ties with Cuba, gave the go-ahead for the Keystone XL pipeline, and withdrew the U. S. from the Paris climate deal. Additionally, Trump’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) threw out the net neutrality rules it enacted under the previous administration (see “What Is Net Neutrality?” published on March 6, 2017).
The progress Obama made toward defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was continued under Trump. The group was forced to abandon their self-proclaimed capitals in both Iraq and Syria. President Trump gave the military greater authority to conduct air strikes in the Middle East, which helped curtail terrorism in the region.
On the judicial front, in April, Trump saw his pick for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, confirmed. This came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, spent a year obstructing the confirmation of Merrick Garland, the man Obama picked to fill the vacancy created when Antonin Scalia died.
While Trump can claim some accomplishments during his first year, they came in the midst of turmoil bordering on crisis. He saw his agenda suffer both legislative and legal defeats. There was significant turnover in administration officials. Worse, the accusations that he colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election have not abated. Close Trump confidants have been convicted of crimes and the Mueller probe continues to move forward (see “Trump Associates in Legal Trouble” in the December 2017 issue and “Former National Security Adviser Flynn Guilty of Felony” in the January 2018 issue). While Trump predicts Democrats and Republicans will work together in 2018, others predict the GOP will suffer significant losses during the midterm election and speculate that Trump will face impeachment proceedings if Robert Mueller is able to discover wrongdoing on the part of the president.