- - Wednesday, February 28, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A new report from the Heritage Foundation shows President Trump has successfully advanced 64 percent of his agenda, faster than President Ronald Reagan’s pace at the same point.

How did they determine that?

The Heritage Foundation developed 334 “unique policy recommendations” for the Trump administration and to date, the Trump administration has implemented nearly two-thirds. At the same point in Reagan’s presidency, only 49 percent of Heritage’s specific policy proposals were advanced. Those ideas were called the “Mandate for Leadership”, and Reagan famously presented the book of recommendations to his Cabinet.

This present-day report measures how many Republicans feel across the country.

While the national media breathlessly covers the Russia inquiry and palace intrigue, the Trump administration is deliberately moving their agenda and President Trump’s high approval rating among Republicans reflects their satisfaction with what he has achieved.

What they can do through executive authority, they are doing.

What regulations they could remove through the Congressional Review Act, they removed.

What legislation they could pass through reconciliation, they passed.

The list of accomplishments is quite long. In fact, 2017 was a highly consequential year.

Heritage chose to specifically highlight nine actions, including increasing military spending, reinstating the Mexico City policy to prevent taxpayer funding for abortion overseas, repealing Net Neutrality and leaving the Paris Climate Accord, among others.

Successfully passing the tax reform bill is the most important legislative achievement, and it is already paying policy and political dividends. Nearly five million workers have received bonuses or wage increases. Hundreds of billions of dollars in new investment have been announced. Economic fundamentals are strong. Public approval of the tax plan has sharply improved in recent weeks, as the news of the law’s ramifications differed with the false predictions of Democrats.

In late 2017, Republicans may have been concerned that voting for the tax bill would have been politically damaging, but now it appears far more likely that voting against the tax law will be politically costly for Democrats.

The tax law had two additional meaningful victories inside it: Repealing the individual mandate in Obamacare and authorizing resource development in the Arctic National Wildlife in Alaska. These achievements would have been impossible if a 60-vote threshold were required in the Senate.

The longest lasting achievement of the Trump administration will be the confirmation of conservative judges, which is 14 federal judges in addition to Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. The pace is the fastest in the modern era, and President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, White House Counsel Don McGahn and the Federalist Society all deserve credit for this success. In the space of about a year, President Trump is massively reshaping the judiciary, a feat which will matter for decades and will long outlast his presidency.

But specific credit is reserved for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, who understood the importance of judicial confirmations from the first day of the new presidency. He has demonstrated the commitment and dedicated precious floor time to advance these stellar judicial nominees. Competition for Senate floor time, given how slowly the Senate moves, is always high. Mr. McConnell has consistently focused on advancing judicial nominees and the results are significant.

Candidly, the potential for legislative accomplishments in 2018 is less certain.

Without another budget reconciliation window, 60 votes will be required to move legislation in the U.S. Senate.

This legislative reality has forced Trump to focus on a bipartisan agenda this year, including issues where some consensus exists, including immigration, infrastructure, trade, and now several proposals to improve school security and improve background checks.

Trump’s presidency surely looks unlike any that have come before it.

But from an accomplishment standpoint, it has been truly consequential and quite conservative.

His team deserves credit and conservatives need to recognize the stakes in the midterm elections.

Matt Mackowiak is the president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group and former press secretary to two U.S. senators. His national politics podcast, “Mack on Politics,” may be found on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and on the web at MackOnPolitics.com.


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