Trump’s year in office shows mixed record

By Li Haidong Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/15 21:08:39

It has been almost a year since US President Donald Trump took office on January 20, 2017. The Trump administration has brought hope to some areas in the US, but also fueled divisions. It has been a year of gains and losses.

Above all, the US economy is picking up and the sluggish employment situation is improving. According to statistics, the US has made remarkable progress in both areas. The US economy has scaled an upward trend, with a GDP growth rate of over 3 percent in the second and the third quarters. The manufacturing sector has created more jobs for millions of blue-collar workers, contributing to a steady growth in employment.

Yet Trump has failed to reduce the soaring budget deficit, which makes it difficult for the federal government to implement major development plans.

Second, the year 2017 witnessed the worsening of racial issues and fragmentation of US society. A number of racial and political incidents took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, including severe confrontations between the whites and the blacks, removal of statues of Robert E. Lee, as well as condemnation of the founding fathers of the US because they were slave owners. The US used to be proud of its melting pot of different races, but that spirit has been marred by racial strife. The Muslim bans advocated by Trump and his preference for whites in dealing with racial issues have exacerbated the already tense race relations within the US.

Third, tax reform and healthcare are two core issues in which the Trump administration has taken many steps. The Obama administration emphasized the role of government in these two core issues, while the Trump administration holds the opposite view and tends to reduce government intervention.

The tax reform proposed by Trump was passed in both the House and Senate and has been made into a law after being signed at the end of December last year. Although it is difficult to entirely abolish Obamacare, Trump signed an executive order on October 12 to revise or even abolish it. He said "we are moving toward lower costs and more options in the healthcare market." It is expected that Obamacare will be extensively revised, if not abolished.

Fourth, the Trump administration has made some progress in developing and utilizing local energy. Unlike his predecessor who opposed exploitation of US energy because of environmental concerns, Trump sets energy development and export as the goal of his administration and spares no efforts in eliminating restrictions on developing the nation's energy, such as approving construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. This way, he has stimulated revival of the economy and addressed unemployment.

Last but not least, the Trump administration is making intensive efforts as part of its plan to push other countries to help promote US economy and create jobs through trade.

Previous US trade policies used to defend its national interests through multilateral means, while Trump takes a bilateral approach in which the US expands overseas markets for merchandise and investment by reaching free trade agreements with individual countries. In the context of economic globalization, the US adopts an approach different from other economies, attempting to revive the economy at the cost of damaging the interests of other countries. It to some extent has indeed relieved some social and economic problems within the US, but also dented its soft power in the international community.

On the whole, during his first year in office, Trump's merits balance his demerits. He has fulfilled many of his campaign promises, seeking to make some achievements and breakthroughs during his tenure. Progress has been made in improving US economy and creating jobs, but he achieved little in uniting US society and addressing the political divide.

The author is a professor with the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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