President Donald Trump’s claim Tuesday that he’s accomplished more than anyone at this point of a presidency flies in the face of history.
A look at a few of his statements at a Wisconsin tool company and an earlier interview with Fox:
Trump: “No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.” — At Snap-on headquarters, Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Facts: Trump’s legislative victories are minor, surpassed by those of a variety of high achievers in the White House. The concept of a president’s first 100 days (a benchmark Trump reaches next week) started with Franklin Roosevelt, because he got so much done.
Taking office in the Great Depression, Roosevelt quickly declared a banking holiday to quiet panic, called a special session of Congress and won passage of emergency legislation to stabilize the banking system. He came forward with a flurry of consequential legislation that set the pillars of the New Deal in place within his first 100 days, “the most concentrated period of U.S. reform in U.S. history,” say Alan Brinkley and Davis Dyer in The Reader’s Companion to the American Presidency. No fewer than 14 historic laws were enacted in that time.
Trump’s big agenda items, like his promised tax overhaul and infrastructure plan, have yet to reach Congress. His attempt to secure the borders from people from terrorism-prone regions is so far blocked by courts. And his first attempt to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care law failed in Congress.
Trump needn’t look as far back as FDR to see a president who got off to a consequential start. Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus package into law in his first month, while also achieving a law expanding health care for children and the Lilly Ledbetter bill on equal pay for women in that time.
Like FDR, Obama came to office in an economic crisis, the worst since the Depression. Lawmakers from both parties were inclined to act quickly and did, even as they fought over the details of the big stimulus package that defined Obama’s early days.
Trump: “I didn’t soften my stance” on China. “Nobody’s ever seen such a positive response on our behalf from China, and then the fake media goes ‘Donald Trump has changed his stance on China.’ I haven’t changed my stance. China’s trying to help us.” — Fox interview.
The Facts: It’s hard to imagine a clearer switch in positions than the president’s abandonment of his campaign pledge to declare China a currency manipulator, a move that would have set the stage for trade penalties. China had once devalued its currency to make its exports artificially cheaper, crowding out other countries’ products, but in recent years has let market forces do more to shape currency exchange rates. Even as Trump railed against Chinese currency manipulation in the presidential campaign, there already were signs that China was taking steps to keep the value of the yuan from sinking further against the dollar.
Trump didn’t let go of his accusation easily. As recently as April 2 he told The Financial Times that the Chinese are “world champions” of currency manipulation.
Trump, speaking about fellow NATO members, says he wants to “make sure these countries start paying their bills a little bit more; you know, they’re way, way behind.” — Remarks in Kenosha.
The Facts: That’s an oversimplification of NATO financial obligations. NATO members are not in arrears on payments. They committed in 2014 to ensuring that by 2024, they would be spending 2% of their gross domestic product on their military budgets. Most NATO countries are spending less than that now, and Washington is putting pressure on them to do more.
In any event, the commitment is for these nations to spend more on their own military capabilities, which would strengthen the alliance, not to hand over money.