Why Donald Trump is planning an all-out blitz at the end of his first 100 days
The notion of a president's first 100 days as a marker for a new administration's progress was first raised by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as he rallied Congress to support an agenda to fight the Great Depression. Roosevelt moved aggressively to prop up the American economy. More than 80 years later, we still apply Roosevelt's arbitrary parameter to the beginning of a presidency — a metric President Donald Trump is keenly aware of.
In recent days, Trump and his advisers have doubled down on the idea that Trump's first 100 days must be considered a success. Given Trump's failure to live up to the promise of passing health insurance reform, for example, you might think the president would shy away from Saturday — the end of his own first 100 days. Instead, Trump will hold a rally and is planning a week full of a final blitz of actions to push the narrative that his White House was a success from the get-go.
Shortly after the election, Trump set the goalpost for the beginning of his presidency. He released a video that outlined his top priorities, including cutting regulation and pulling the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The president has largely delivered on five, smaller "America First" promises, but has made little progress on more substantial promises. (Mic will be bringing you coverage of Trump's first 100 days all week.)
The president is already getting defensive. Trump tweeted on Friday that journalists would not fairly evaluate his first 100 days. And his top advisers were out in force on Sunday to argue Trump's first 100 days have been a resounding success. Trump "is fulfilling his promises and doing it at breakneck speed," White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said on NBC's Meet the Press.
That very much depends on how you define "fulfilling his promises." After the White House presented bullish timelines for passing health care and tax reform, both bills are stuck in the House of Representatives. The U.S. relationship with Iran, Syria and North Korea is more unstable than 100 days ago — which some might call progress and others a setback. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the TPP trade deal after his inauguration, and is again turning to the fight against free trade. On the campaign trail, what Trump lacked in policy acumen he made up for with specific promises to kill or replace then-President Barack Obama's policies. Some of Obama's executive moves have been reversed, but Trump still has a long way to go if he wants to nullify Obama's legacy.
What you need to know: Despite tamping down some expectations, Trump clearly cares deeply about how his first 100 days are remembered. Expect an all-out blitz by the White House this week to reverse his dipping approval numbers and set the narrative that Trump is a success.
This is Mic's daily read on Donald Trump's America. Welcome to the political newsletter that hopes you watched my interview with Bill Nye.
Today: We're approaching the end of Donald Trump's first 100 days.
More: Health care and a government shutdown fight in one week?
Even more: Trump's aggressively scheduled week.
Trump's agenda today: Speaks with the German chancellor by telephone. Video conferences with NASA astronauts. Meets with ambassadors of countries on the United Nations Security Council. Signs a Holocaust Remembrance proclamation. Meets with his top military advisers. Participates in a reception with conservative media. Dines with Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
Trump wants to make these two BIG pushes this week
"Health care may happen next week; it may not," Priebus said on the Sunday talk show circuit. "We're hopeful it will." Hear the collective groan of every federal employee and close observer of Washington? The White House has decided to push three policy initiatives this week.
On Friday, the U.S. government will stop functioning unless Congress passes a resolution to keep funds flowing. That's not always a point of contention, but Trump wants funding for his border wall and may shut down the government if he doesn't get it. Democrats will not support any wall funding and will relish an opportunity to very publicly defeat the president's agenda on Capitol Hill (again).
Also this week, the White House is pushing a vote on a new health care bill. The compromise bill between conservative and moderate Republicans would preserve coverage requirements in health insurance plans at the federal level, only to let states opt out of requiring that coverage.
Despite pressure from Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) has said keeping the government open, not replacing the Affordable Care Act, is the Republican priority this week. Politico reported Ryan told Republicans on Saturday the House will not vote on a health care bill until he is sure he has the votes for passage. Privately, White House officials are acknowledging that reality.
Finally, Trump plans an announcement on tax reform on Wednesday. The president has promised a big "TAX REDUCTION," which is likely to mean wealthy Americans and corporations will receive a large tax break. Tax reform is likely to find as much pushback as health care reform did, with thousands of special interests angling for benefits from a reformed tax code.
What we'll know by Friday: Whether Trump pushed a hard-right agenda that brought the government to a halt or let his first 100 days end without fighting aggressively for key promises like the border wall and health insurance reform.
Other Trump plans this week: Meeting leaders of conservative media outlets on Monday at the White House and signing more executive orders related to energy deregulation.
Another agenda delay: The White House initially said it would be opening the Victims of Immigrant Crime Engagement Office on Wednesday, but rescinded that plan Monday morning.
A factoid: At the end of the week, Trump will have signed at least 32 executive orders in his first 100 days — more than any president in the past 50 years.
A question: If there's a belief you're not accomplishing anything, why try to pile so much into one week — especially when a looming government shutdown alone could overshadow all this news? Here's one answer: Because the White House is worried they have not accomplished enough. And here's another: Because Trump and his team thrive in the chaos created by a flurry of executive orders and legislative battles.
Send me your thoughts on why you think Trump is cramming in so much at the end of his first 100 days. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Programming note: On Saturday, to commemorate the conclusion of his first 100 days, Trump will hold an America First rally. That will surely overshadow the White House Correspondents' Dinner, an annual event where the president usually appears but that Trump said he would not attend.
The #MarchForScience drew thousands of marchers
The event drew 40,000 people in Washington, D.C., and 20,000 in New York City, along with hundreds of thousands more around the world. See photos that show the size of the various events here.