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Analysis: Trump's Nowhere on Half His Presidential Pledges

According to an analysis by MSNBC, out of 35 public pledges Trump made since becoming president, he has made no major effort to follow through on 18.
Donald Trump
President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House.Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Donald Trump has made an unusually large number of pledges since becoming president, and as his administration approaches the 100-day mark on Saturday, the evidence shows he hasn’t followed through on many of them.

Trump has not delivered on a range of distinct policy pledges, such as increasing tariffs, cutting taxes, funding infrastructure, repealing Obamacare or reforming drug prices. He has also declined to take any public action to pursue several ideas he theatrically promoted on Twitter, such as creating a voter fraud commission or potentially changing libel laws.

According to an analysis by MSNBC, out of 35 public pledges Trump made since becoming president, he has made no major effort to follow through on 18, while he has taken some kind of action on 17 other pledges. The tabulation focuses on pledges Trump made since he was elected — separate from promises made during the campaign (which can be found on's Promise Tracker).

More than most modern presidents, Trump has made a wide range of claims, accusations and promises, especially on Twitter, and those remarks have garnered intense media and political attention. Yet the tabulation suggests, at least for the first 100 days, Trump has made virtually no effort to carry out many of those pledges.

The “100 Day” mark is an early but traditional time to take stock of a new administration. For Trump, the results suggest that while he is more voluble than his predecessors, he is far less effective at achieving actual governing results. That is especially true for legislative achievements, where the president’s record is quite thin.

Of the 28 bills he has signed into law so far, 13 essentially oppose federal agency rules drafted during the Obama administration, nine involve appointments or ceremonial matters, such as naming federal buildings, and only six involve legislative substance, such as a bill authorizing spending for the space program.

By most metrics, Trump has not signed any laws that are considered major policy reforms. His administration pulled back from a high-profile effort to repeal Obamacare, though officials say Trump may return to the issue, and he has yet to push detailed legislation regarding taxes or infrastructure spending.

Trump did sign a bill canceling an Obama-era rule regarding Planned Parenthood, a major issue for conservatives and liberals alike. The rule, which barred local governments from interfering with federal funding for organizations that provide abortion services, had technically been in effect for two days when Trump took office.

In terms of larger legislation during the 100-day period, by contrast, Obama signed a $787 billion stimulus into law, Bill Clinton got Democrats to approve a $1.5 trillion budget, and Franklin Roosevelt, who set the standard for early success, rammed 76 bills through Congress.

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One area where Trump has been productive, by historical standards, is executive orders. He has released 25 executive orders, more than the past two presidents at this time. Aides say Trump will sign a new order on veterans Thursday, which would be his 26th. (At 100 days, Obama had 19 orders and Bush had 11.) While Trump’s most well-known order, the travel ban, is currently blocked during a court fight, most of his orders are in effect.

Trump’s Justice Department is busy implementing strict executive policies on crime, immigration and law enforcement coordination with local police. Several orders limiting government bureaucracy or regulations are nowwinding their way through federal agencies.

It turns out some Trump executive actions, however, contain exceptions that cut against his own pledges.

In February, Trump said pipe for the Keystone project must come “from the U.S.” His new executive rules for that policy, however, provided an exception for Keystone. The president also signed an order to eliminate two regulations for every new regulation, but it provides large exceptions for any regulations about agency organization, national security, military matters or foreign affairs.

And while the president touted an order limiting lobbyists in his administration, it includes secret waivers for lobbyists. The Obama administration also used waivers to hire some former lobbyists.

Finally, on inspection, some Trump orders amount to little more than optional advice for the government — not binding reforms.

Trump’s order on Obamacare tells agencies to reduce “burdens” of the policy, for example, while complying with the law.

In contrast to the executive orders, a review of Trump’s presidential pledges on Twitter reveals a string of discarded ideas, at least so far.

In January, Trump bemoaned violence in Chicago and pledged, “I will send in the Feds!”

His administration has only reduced federal oversight of local police departments, however, pulling back from several federal training programs. The head of the Chicago police says the White House has not responded to his requests for federal assistance.

Trump has also declined to pursue his pledges to investigate or “prove” his own conspiracy theories.

In January, he tweeted a call for a voter fraud investigation. In February, he told Fox News he would “set up a commission” led by Vice President Mike Pence to investigate the issue. In March, he also tweeted a call for an “immediate investigation” into New York Sen. Chuck Schumer’s alleged ties to Putin. He has taken no public action on any of those pledges.

Trump’s tendency to kick the can down the road is not limited to political controversies and distractions.

On tax reform, a major policy priority for Republicans, Trump said in February he would unveil a specific tax plan in “a few weeks,” a deadline which has come and gone. Last week, he moved the deadline again, saying he would release a tax plan “Wednesday or shortly thereafter.” That timeline “left Mr. Trump’s own Treasury officials speechless,” The New York Times reported, and on Sunday, Trump aides said Wednesday’s announcement will provide “principles for tax reform,” not written legislation.

While a handful of Trump’s accusations have consumed Washington and the political press, on Twitter, he has spent the first 100 days hammering the topic of jobs. He frequently tweets about employment and economic plans, arguing individual company decisions are a response to his administration.

“Car companies coming back to the U.S. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!,” Trump posted about a Ford announcement about investing in Michigan plans.

“There is an incredible spirit of optimism sweeping the country right now — we're bringing back the JOBS!,” Trump wrote in another tweet, about Exxon investing in American refineries.

He also outlined plans to cut “wasteful regulations,” a pledge Trump’s administration has acted on. Many business leaders have welcomed the news, though some of the regulations may cut against American workers. Among the bills Trump signed to cancel Obama-era rules, one made it easier for companies to avoid reporting when their workers are hurt or killed on the job.

While the countdown to Trump’s 100-day mark is sure to animate many debates, for his part, the president is already arguing the framework is overhyped. In tweet on Friday, he dubbed it a “ridiculous standard.”