After sweeping into power on the promise of stimulus, reform and “Making America Great Again”, during his first 190 days in office, one could well judge Donald Trump has tried to do everything but improve the trajectory of the American economy.
First, there has been no progress on tax reform as Trump has repeatedly failed to pass healthcare reforms. Indeed, his leadership has become increasingly fractious – on Friday he accused the 3 Republicans who failed to support his latest amendment (including Senator John McCain) as having “let the American people down”. Following up on Saturday with the threat ““if a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!” Trump is in part referring to government subsidies to insurance companies, which make health cover accessible to poorer Americans. The next such payment is due on the 21st August.
Second, he has often batted from left field, pursuing personal rather than popular agendas on topics such as immigration, the environment and, last week, transgender soldiers. In the latter case, he announced by tweet “please be advised that the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the US military” – a measure taken with apparently no prior notice to the Pentagon and concerning an agency that currently employs more transgender people than any other organisation in the world.
We therefore see Trump as having thus far been “left behind”, with little concrete change as a result of his tenure. The global economy is delivering resilient growth and therefore the US has continued to expand with modest momentum (albeit lagging global peers). However, in stark contrast to the fanfare with which he was greeted (with the potential to address some of the highest corporate tax rates in the world and the lowest levels of government investment for a generation), his unconventional leadership now seems more likely to present a risk of “leading astray” the US economy.
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