A Natural Path to Remission?

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THE TRUMP WHITE HOUSE – YEAR IN REVIEW

By: Dave Gordon



Though there has been no shortage of divisiveness, rhetoric, and political noise in the daily news cycle, one of the things that tend to get lost in the shuffle is the net positives that the Trump Administration has brought to
the country.

In the past twelve months there have been scores of boutique successes – like giving back millions of acres of federal land to Utah, scaling back the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to inspect pondson private property, quadrupling the federal aid to African-American colleges, the president’s visit to Israel within his first 100 days in office, and the list goes on. And to think, those aren’t even the seismic policies that will create a sea change inthe way America functions.

Love him or hate him, the president’s actions have shown a positive effect on employment, cracking down on terror, cracking down on corruption, and ensuring that government regulations are the least burdensome as possible.

The Trump Administration’s top accomplishments in its first year focused on four key elements – the economy, US Security and defense, foreign policy, and the Justice System.

THE ECONOMY

For years people have said that we needed a businessman to run our country in order to turn the economy back around. Judging by Trump’s first year in office, it seems as they were right on the money, as the economy has rebounded tremendously.

GDP (Gross Domestic Product) Defies Analysts’ Expectations –October reports indicated that the GDP grew over the summer by 3%, which surpassed expectations. In fact, Trump had 3% or more growth in GDP for three consecutive quarters. With predictions that this trend will continue, this is a good economic sign.

Consumer Confidence Highest in 13 Years – A University of Michigan survey shows consumer confidence is the highest it’s been since 2004, and that optimism is driving the economy.
The Consumer Confidence Index showed the highest level of confidence since 2000. That report was releasedthis past October.

Stock Market Gains – While it is hard to give the president complete credit for stock market activities, since many moving parts are involved, often policy dictates the level of optimism and pessimism of traders and speculators. The Dow Jones Industrial average has hit more record highs in 2017 than any previous year. By December 22, the Dow Jones Industrial average had gained 35% since Trump’s inauguration – that’s better than even he had predicted. Foreign markets that are closely tied to the American economy have increased as well.

Unemployment – By the end of November 2017, unemployment reached a 17-year low at 4.1% with forecasts that unemployment will continue to fall in the coming months.

The Tax Bill –The House and Senate GOP and Trump passed their first sweeping legislative bill which cuts taxes across the board. Tax cuts have been a mainstay of conservative political promises, and Trump signed into law another big tax cut bill, cutting taxes for the rich, middle class, poor, and corporations, as well as raising the minimum for estate tax. Though the bill comes with little to no spending cuts, the Administration is hoping that the added money infused into the economy will pay off big dividends in boosting the economy. 91% of the middle class will receive more money as a result of these tax cuts.

FOREIGN POLICY AND DEFENSE

Trump signed a $700 billion Defense Bill. This is a $54 billion bump from the Obama defense spending. Citing dilapidated and out of date military equipment andtoo few troops, the bill would pay for 7,500 more active duty soldiers, 1,000 active duty Marines, 4,000 new Navy Sailors, and 4,100 active-duty Airmen in the Air Force. On top of that, troops will see a 2.4% pay raise which is even higher than the 2.1% they requested. In the last year of the Obama administration, sixty percent of our F-18s were in use, and only eight aircraft carriers – the lowest of any period in history.

Defeating ISIS

According to the State Department, the steps that Trump has taken, like delegating decision making from the White House to on the ground commanders, have led to accelerated success against ISIS forces. In fact, one-third of all territory regained from ISIS since 2014 was regained in the last six months (as of August). Also, Trump has worked to increase the sharing of the burden in dealing with ISIS across coalition members, encouraging them to take on a more active role. The latest estimates are that ISIS has lost 98% of its territory, half of which
was lost during the Trump Administration.

Sending Syria and the Rest of the World
a Strong Message

Trump’s authorization to send airstrikes on the government airbase in Syria sent a swift message to the Syrian government that chemical weapons would not be tolerated. Obama’s Administration famously refused to strike back after Assad crossed the “red line” of using chemical weapons. Trump had no
such hesitation.

North Korea Strategy Has Gotten China into the Mix

It appears that Trump’s tough talk on North Korea has gotten the attention of the Chinese – North Korea’s biggest supplier. In September, Chinese Central Bank told its banks to stop doing business with North Korea. It has also imposed its own sanctions on North Korea. Scholars believe that this action on the part of China is a direct result of Trump’s urging.

Recognition of Jerusalem

While other presidents have paid lip service to the assertion that Jerusalem is the rightful capital of Israel, Trump made one of the most forceful statements, going so far as to promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, and take the UN to task for its anti-Israeli policy and tone. This is no small thing for Israelis, and it strengthens the relationship between the US and Israel.

JUSTICE SYSTEM

When Justice Scalia died in February of 2016, his Supreme Court seat became vacant. When Trump became President, he quickly nominated, and the Senate confirmed, Neil Gorsuch to take Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court.

Trump appointed twelve federal appeals judges in his first year in office, which is more than any other President in history (Nixon and Kennedy each appointed eleven in their first years).

Trump also appointed numerous conservative federal judges.
As of December 21st, Trump had appointed more federal judges that Obama, Bush, and Clinton in the first year, and had 38 of those appointments confirmed. For those who believe the Federal courts have been a bastion of liberalism, this is a tide that is turning.

Trump Commutes Rubashkin’s Sentence

On Dec. 20th, the last day of Hanukah, President Trump commuted the prison sentence of Sholom Rubashkin. Rabbi Rubashkin, 57, is the father of ten children. He previously ran the Iowa headquarters of a family business that was the country’slargest kosher meat-processing company. In 2009 Rubashkin was sentenced to 27 years in prison. His sentence drew condemnation from legal officials nationwide. While Rubashkin’s guilt was never up for debate, the sentence of 27 years was seen as far too harsh for a non-violent first-time offender. Rabbi Rubashkin had been in prison for over eight years.

CONTROVERSIAL  ACHIEVEMENTS

One of the most controversial parts of the latest GOP/Trump legislative victory – the Tax Bill – is the repeal of the Obamacaremandate. This mandate required every resident to hold health insurance policies, or face a fine. This mandate was introduced to battle the rising cost of health insurance, especially for those with preexisting conditions. However, this mandate often disproportionately hurt the poor and middle class. This was one of the biggest negatives of the Affordable Care Act, and Trump and the GOP repealed it within the year.

ANWR Drilling –Drilling in the Arctic was a major talking point of the 2008 Presidential campaign, with Sarah Palin chanting, “Drill, Baby! Drill,” a cry repeated around the GOP-sphere. After Obama had put off approval of exploring this option, Trump’s administration approvedan exploratory drilling expedition, which is the first step to drillingfor oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

This has been a long time in coming. Even during Jimmy Carter’s administration, the site was considered a perfect solution to offset OPEC’s stranglehold on US’ oil consumption. With current technology, there is enough oil in this Arctic wilderness to supply the entire US with 16 billion barrels of oil – two years’ steady supply –
if foreign imports were shut off completely.

Oil Pipelines– Trump has fast-tracked two major pipeline expansions: The Keystone XL Pipeline (March) and Alberta Clipper (October), both of which will funnel oil from Canada to the US. Canada is America’s largest oil supplier. This is a major step in making the delivery of “ethical oil” from Canada simpler, faster, and more environmentally sound.

THE YEAR AHEAD

If the past year is an indicator of things to come, it looks like President Trump will continue to push his “America First” doctrine. He will remain committed to fighting terror, to strengthening
the American economy, and to working with people on both sides of the aisle to promote peace and prosperity in our country.