Jobs, the Economy, ISIS, and the Border – Analyzing Trump’s progress thus far

I generally try and stay away from talking about President Trump’s tweets, mostly because they usually don’t provide a whole lot of information and more often than not just a distraction to whatever is actually happening in DC with legislation.

This isn’t fair, obviously- because whenever anyone tweets or writes about him, it’ll be an attack that merits scorn and coverage, but a video of him beating up the CNN logo is just him ‘defending himself.’ And the mainstream media will talk about whatever he tweets anyway because, well, he’s the president.

But he tweeted this morning that no one in the media was focusing on all the great work he was doing, specifically in four areas.

Here’s a picture of his tweet:

Now he ends with an ambiguous “and so much else,” but let’s focus on the four things that are named specifically in the tweet: Jobs, the Economy, ISIS, and the Border.

Jobs

After a kind of disappointing March, jobs have rebounded pretty well in April and May (and we’ll find out officially about June in the next few days.) Unemployment has continued to go down at least a little bit with every successive month.

Now, this has been the trend for the last few years though, as this chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics will show. Jobs go up and down, and while some of that is influenced by what’s happening in DC, often times it is more about the nebulous economy that politicians don’t control. Politicians can incentivize companies to ‘create’ more jobs, but ultimately the economy determines job growth.

I won’t chalk this up as a “loss” or total lie on Trump’s part; jobs are doing better, but they’ve been doing well for a while now. But it’s also fair to say that the current job growth is just a layover from Obama administration-era legislation. He has only been in office a little more than five months.

Economy

There are a variety of ways to measure an economy, so I’ll go for one of more straight forward ways and use growth of the country’s GDP.

According to this chart of quarterly GDP, the GDP growth for the first quarter of President Trump’s presidency has been rather low compared to the average growth of his predecessor. That’s not to say that President Obama had great growth every quarter- he obviously didn’t, look at the chart- but for Trump to state that the economy is doing great is just a tad overstated.

It’s entirely possible that the economy turns around through the rest of the year. It’s happened before (again, just look at the chart), but for now, between Jobs and the Economy, things are looking about the same through this first half year of Trump’s presidency as they did, economically, for the last few years of Obama’s.

ISIS

Mosul and Raqqa, both strongholds of ISIS fighters, are close to be defeated, as per reports from the battlegrounds, by troops backed by the US.

It’s difficult to say whether or not this is ‘the end’ of ISIS being a legitimate threat to the US and their allies, because they are an ideology that has shown to infect those not directly connected to it. You can’t kill an idea or a movement; you can only surpress it for a time.

The war in the Middle East combatting radical Islamic terrorism has been a long fought battle, one that began before either Obama or Trump took office, but it would be a triumph for Trump and his constituents if they can be the ones in power when ISIS is destroyed or at least contained, just as Obama can tout that Osama bin Laden was taken out during his administration.

For now, it’s entirely too early to say that Trump has defeated ISIS, and most of the fighting is being done through other forces and not by Americans directly, which is probably a more popular option in terms of public opinion.

If reports of tensions growing between the US and Assad forces are true and fighting between them occurs (or God forbid, chemical weapons are used again), this conflict could spread past simply taking out ISIS.

So, for now, Trump can’t tout victory here either. It’s an open possibility that he will be able to one day.

For now though, better left blank.

The Border

This one was easily one of Trump’s biggest wishes and promises during the campaign.

In terms of positives for him, ICE agents are out in force gathering illegal immigrants and more border security has been in place, which a general feeling of more security.

But, he also hasn’t managed to secure funding for his Southern Border Wall, with a potential for US tax dollars being used to construct it.

It’s entirely possible that he gets the funding for it, especially if there’s some kind of catastrophic event that can be linked to illegal immigrants coming from the South.

Additionally, a temporary and lighter version of his ‘Travel Ban’ was allowed through the Supreme Court, with a full case review hearing in October. Three justices already wanted to implement the original bill entirely, so all the Trump administration has to do is convince another two justices by October, and they can fully implement a ban on six Middle East countries.

This is probably the largest area of success for Trump and his administration, although their ultimate goal of closed borders and the Wall are still only in the works, being charitable.

Overall

While the economy and jobs are continuing to churn along as they had before, Trump is continuing to push on ISIS and border security than the previous administration and seems to be making headway on his goals in those areas.

It would seem that, outside of the Travel Ban, and any advancements on health care (which President Trump neglected to specify in this tweet), the media doesn’t have much to talk about in terms of legislation. 

A lot of the economic legislation that the Trump administration has pushed through has been lifting restrictions on companies, which could be seen as helping stimulate parts of the economy, but at a detriment to the environment.

I understand President Trump’s frustration with the media harping on him and his administration- but he’s the president. Bush and Obama both went through very similar experiences, with constant questioning and beratement on their decisions and their reasonings.

Trump may “be new at this,” as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan put it, but it doesn’t exempt him from criticism, especially when he proposes bad legislation or tries to circumvent the legislative system to get his way.

The Supreme Court was the right way to do the Travel Ban, and it worked in his favor, at least for now. Maybe he can learn from this and be better at proposing and enacting legislation.

We all can hope that these next three and a half years are less drama filled than the first six months.

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