In this installment, we depart slightly from the scorekeeping used in past editions. We aren’t alone; for the most part, the mainstream media has largely abandoned the scorecard approach to measuring the Trump presidency after the one-year anniversary of the President’s inauguration. Unsurprisingly, some, like the Washington Post, continue to keep a current tally.
The departure is to wonder aloud why certain legislative or policy events have not occurred and to offer predictions about what may happen in the Trump administration’s agenda over the next 2 ½ years.
Matters affecting the current set of achievements:
- International surprises. Who could have predicted the recent détente in the triangular US/South Korea/North Korea relationship? Who could have predicted current discussions about de-nuclearization of Iran’s weapon-based program? Who could have predicted the current lineup and agenda for the US trade delegation in China? In many ways, these international developments, involving some of the most significant and complicated issues since WWII, have forced a recalibration of priorities.
- Personnel turnover. Turnover at the senior staff level has undoubtedly affected the President’s domestic and international agendas. Additional important early influencers have been sidelined. There will always be turnover in the first year of any administration but some of this turnover has been sensationalized to lead the public to believe that the “A” Team has been replaced by a “B” Team (unfair to judge this way). Some new players, such as Kelly, Bolton, Kudlow, and Pompeo, have also forced a recalibration of priorities.
- Distractions. Too many to identify but all are well publicized. Recalibration is the wrong word to use here, as that word implies choice. Here, the actions are more reactive than planned. Whether the distractions are self-inflicted or are caused by external forces, important resources have been diverted. And yet, the day-to-day work of agencies and staffs goes on.
- Midterm elections. The usual doom and gloom predictions about the majority party’s chances in midterm elections may be tied to some “time outs” in the legislative agenda. Until the midterm elections have occurred, major legislative accomplishments seem unlikely.
- The “now what” phenomenon. Remember that the President has scored some wins – leaving the Paris Climate Accord, tax cuts, peeling back over-regulation, making judicial appointments, increasing manufacturing jobs, a (mostly) humming economy. Combined with all of the above factors, plans for future achievements must be refocused and reprioritized.
With all of this in mind, we jump into the perilous and adventurous world of making predictions. While always hazardous, making predictions in this Presidency seems more uncertain. A bet on Powerball might have better odds. And, leaving aside international and other events to focus mainly on what affects the economy and the Wealth Management Industry, here are a few thoughts:
- Obamacare repeal will resurface a. if the Republicans hold the House and the Senate, and then b. as soon as possible in January.
- Detailed infrastructure plans will be rolled out as a roll up to a reelection platform.
- A major law and order campaign will be announced, possibly combined with new efforts to combat the opioids crisis.
- Inflation will creep into the second half of the first term, caused by a full employment economy, the polarizing and economic effect of immigration reform and overall worldwide economic changes
- The President will have the opportunity to nominate at least one Supreme Court Justice in the second half of the first term.
Having entered the predictions derby, now we will keep score on ourselves. Stay tuned.