Similar to publicly releasing tax returns, announcing a plan for the first 100 days in office has become a customary practice for newly-elected presidents. In a brief video published on Monday, Donald Trump detailed his plan, which touched upon matters both domestic and international. Yet, to fully grasp the significance of Trump’s announcement, it’s important to understand how this tradition originated.
While many recognize Franklin Roosevelt as the first to officially outline the first 100 days, the tradition actually began with Napoleon Bonaparte. In the course of roughly 100 days, Bonaparte returned from exile and reinstated himself as the ruler of France. More than a century later, President Roosevelt used the same strategy to soothe a weary nation. In his first 100 days, Roosevelt pushed 15 major bills through Congress, which affected nearly every industry in the United States. President Roosevelt used his plan to foster immense legislative change. Since Roosevelt’s time in office, however, few have been successful in affecting great change during their early days in office.
While Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower attempted to focus on domestic legislation, various wars kept them from enacting political action. The same is true of presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Bush and Clinton, who all faced resistance during their first three months in office. So why has the tradition persisted? In short, it’s one of the few measures capable of assessing a new president’s ability to create momentum.
Although presidents generally don’t accomplish anything tremendous during their first 100 days in office, this period is similar to baseball. As the Harvard Business Report wrote, “…a baseball analogy is particularly intriguing in this regard … baseball, like governing, is a game of statistics and not anecdotes …What percentage of rookie baseball players have a really lousy first season and later emerge to be superstars?” Thus, the first 100 days aren’t meant to assess how much is accomplished; rather, it indicates whether momentum will build or not. Public opinions begin to solidify and significant missteps are criticized harshly.
Understanding this, let’s unpack Donald Trump’s plan for his first 100 days.
One of the primary issues Trump focused on is President Obama’s plan to establish the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would link 12 nations and 40 percent of global trade together. During his announcement, Trump stated that he would withdraw from any negotiations. While this agreement took years to negotiate, the president-elect announced that he would create new trade deals during his tenure. Additionally, Trump revealed that he will instate laws to deregulate Wall Street, taking aim specifically at the Dodd-Frank Act. Trump cited his discontent with the policy, which requires banks to reserve more cash to prevent an economic crash.
Furthermore, Trump informed viewers that he will “cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal,” creating what he believes will be millions of jobs. During his campaign, Donald Trump promised to scrap policies intended to reduce greenhouse emissions in the U.S. While it wasn’t mentioned expressly in his video, Trump has chosen a man named Myron Ebell to head the EPA. As the Washington Post reports, “Ebell, who is not a scientist, has long questioned the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is fueling unprecedented global warming.” Indeed, Ebell’s claims are likely as worthless as the companies controlling his uneducated mouth.
Lastly, Trump spoke broadly about several issues, ranging from cyber security to immigration. While vowing to end the flow of immigrants coming into the U.S., Donald Trump remained mute about his promise to force Mexico to pay for a wall. Instead, he spoke about further ridding Washington of insiders, which he dubbed “draining the swamp.” Despite this, Trump selected a Washington insider to serve as his chief of staff, which is quite the ironic choice.
What does this announcement mean for the nation?
If history is an accurate indicator, many of these plans will be suppressed by Congress. Trump is far from the typical president, however, so each promise must be evaluated carefully. While the TPP agreement was initiated by President Obama, many from both political parties are skeptical of the 4,000-page proposal. Indeed, Trump may find bipartisan support if he chooses to withdraw from these negotiations. Furthermore, his plans to reduce lobbying and enact a cyber-security team are rather notable goals — both of which will require support from Democrats and Republicans.
Trump’s proposals begin to lose their sensibility when one considers his opinion of the environment and Wall Street, however. Throughout his campaign, the president-elect claimed that global warming is a hoax created by the Chinese. While he later retracted these comments, his appointment of Ebell illustrates his lack of environmental commitment. Furthermore, Trump’s proposal to rid Wall Street of regulations could bring another era of financial corruption and collapse. While potentially beneficial for Trump’s personal interests, this course of action could allow bankers to further evade existing regulations. Whether Trump can defy history, though, will be up for interpretation beginning January 21.