Comparing 100 days of Trump vs. Obama

Blog Post

The first 100 days of any presidency are tumultuous.  But just like with previous presidents, the remaining months of the president’s first year in office - not the first 100 days - will provide more clarity on the overall success and direction of the administration. President George W. Bush was faced with 9/11 nine months into his presidency and then faced years of war. President Barack Obama got 60 votes in the Senate and then comprehensive health care reform 11 months into his presidency. President Donald Trump still has plenty of time to make good on his campaign promises. Two examples are as follows:

1. Health Care

Health care legislation is ALWAYS hard. The Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) was passed in 2009, at the end of President Obama’s first year in office, and only because Democrats picked up an unexpected 60th seat in the U.S. Senate when Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania switched his party affiliation on April 28, 2009. Months later, the Senate passed the ACA. Before passage of the ACA, the Obama administration had limited success in the health care space. Although the Obama administration was able to have Congress appropriate $19 billion in a stimulus package to help implement an electronic medical record system.

The current Congress (absent a 60 seat super majority in the Senate) cannot pass comprehensive health care reform. The House effort to date has been limited because full “repeal and replace” needs 60 Senate votes. That said, even the New York Times acknowledges that reform is moving forward. Trump has “signed an executive order to scale back as many parts of the Affordable Care Act as possible, [and] announced rule changes to cut the annual open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act. Trump has also now taken the lead on legislation possibilities.” 

My grade for both Obama and Trump when it comes to health care legislation at the 100 day mark of their administration: Incomplete.

 2. Energy

Energy policy continues to hold much promise. President Trump ran his campaign on supporting “all of the above” energy sources but has focused on support fossil fuels. Forbes published a good overview of Trumps efforts to support the coal, oil & gas industries, noting:

“One of Trump’s first actions was an Executive Order to insure completion of both the Dakota Access Pipeline and the northern extension of the Keystone XL Pipeline. He has also ordered the Bureau of Land Management to rewrite and re-propose regulations pertaining to venting and flaring of natural gas, and to hydraulic fracturing operations on federal lands. And he ordered the Interior Department to rescind the Obama Administration's last-minute regulation that would dramatically change the manner in which federal oil and gas royalties are valued.” . . . Taken as a whole, President Donald Trump has already, in his first 98 days in office, taken more actions to positively impact the domestic oil and gas industry of any president in at least my lifetime, possibly ever. He has done all of this in the face of a withering media assault, aggressive obstruction from congressional Democrats, and with limited cooperation from congressional Republicans.”

Trump is also working to support offshore drilling opportunities. As far as renewables, President Trump appears willing to allow existing supports like the Investment Tax Credit remain in place. 

President Obama was incredibly active and successful in the energy space. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) passed in February 2009 and was a game changer for energy efficiency and renewable energy. As one supporter noted, it was $90 billion of ginormous!  

2009 was the very beginning of the shale revolution and President Obama appeared content to allow shale to develop while concentrating federal actions on supporting efficiency efforts and renewables. It was not until later in his presidency, that we began to see push back against shale through EPA regulations and opposition to the Keystone Pipeline.

My grade for both Obama and Trump when it comes to energy policy at the 100 day mark of their administration: Solid B.

100 days with the media

Over the past 100 days, President Trump and the press have doubled down on their love/hate relationship. On his 100th day in office, Trump boycotted the White House Correspondent Association Dinner and instead attending a campaign rally in Pennsylvania. As the Plain Dealer reported, Trump did not hesitate to attack the press at his rally. 

Conversely, the media coverage of President Obama’s first 100 days was almost universally positive; the country was rightfully proud of his historic election. These two articles exemplify that media coverage:

From the Huffington Post:

“It is not, necessarily, a unique observation. But among many Democrats and even casual observers, Obama’s tone is cited as one of the chief catalysts for his outstanding early poll numbers. “Despite record job loss,” said one Democratic aide, “there’s still hope in America.”

From the New York Times:

Many of the re-examinations of the most celebrated of 100-day periods, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s in 1933, have noted that Americans felt better because they liked Roosevelt himself, even if they couldn’t be sure his policies would actually work. The same appears to be true of Mr. Obama. His strong approval ratings seem to reflect hope in him at a time when the economic news continues to be bad.”

Personal observations

My wife and I were honored to be at the Capitol on January 20 – which sure seems like more than 100 days ago. But this is day 102. Much can happen in the days ahead and there is still plenty of time for President Trump to make a positive impact on health care, energy, infrastructure, and more.

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