White House

Juan Williams: Why Trump's 100 day mark will hurt (not help) Republicans

Griff Jenkins reports from Washington, D.C.

 

Editor's note: The following column originally appeared in The Hill newspaper and TheHill.com.

 

This Saturday marks President Trump’s 100th day in office.

On Day One, after listening to Trump’s inaugural address, former President George W. Bush reportedly said: “That was some weird s--t.”

The GOP establishment still holds that view after 100 days of President Trump.

And Democrats are also offering “We Told You So” looks to all who voted for Trump.

Trump’s most striking achievement in his first three months is being the least popular new president in modern history.

A majority of Americans – 52 percent — disapprove of his job performance as president, according to the most recent Gallup tracking poll, released Saturday.

Even Trump’s supporters have to admit these first three months have been defined by the administration’s failure to deliver on campaign promises.

For all of Trump’s talk about being a great dealmaker, the flashing lights on the political scoreboard read as follows:

No repeal of ObamaCare. No tax reform. No Muslim travel ban — in the sense that the attempt to enact one is bogged down in the courts — and no evidence to support the incredible claim that President Obama had Trump wiretapped.

There is also no wall on the southern border and no indication that Mexico will pay for it.

And in the last few weeks, the reversals on campaign promises have come thick and fast.

Now Trump approves of the Export-Import Bank. Now Trump is no longer a fan of the border adjustment tax. Now he believes in NATO. Now China will not be listed as a currency manipulator. Now Janet Yellen is a good chairwoman of the Federal Reserve.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) put all the flip-flops in delicate terms so as not to offend the Trump faithful:

“I think President Trump is learning the job and some of the things that were said during the campaign I think he now knows — that’s simply not the way things ought to be.”

Trump’s singular success was getting Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court.

But the credit for that win should properly go to the Heritage Foundation and the conservative legal minds at the Federalist Society. They compiled a list of their favorite conservative judges and handed it to Trump.

Now, let’s look ahead to Trump’s next 100 days.

The biggest threat to Trump is the split between him and Republicans in Congress.

He has proven to be a weight on Republican congressional candidates in two special elections in Kansas and Georgia.

FiveThirtyEight forecaster Harry Enten tweeted earlier this month that the House GOP caucus is in the worst position of any party holding the House majority since 1954, when voters were first asked their preference for which party rules the House.

That ballot question was simply, “If the election were held today, would you vote for the Republican or the Democratic candidate?” Enten’s average of the polls has the Republicans down by six points.

There is more than a year for the Republicans to dig out from there, but it is a big hole.

That gives Republicans every reason to start distancing themselves from the Trump White House. Democrats are already standing far away.

Yet Trump needs Congress’s help right now to avoid a government shutdown.

After a two-week Easter recess, Congress returns to work tomorrow with just four days left until funding for current government operations is set to expire on April 29.

The top two Senate Republicans, McConnell and Majority Whip John Cornyn (Texas) are going out of their way to call for a bipartisan, stop-gap funding measure to stave off a shutdown.

“We’ll be talking to Senate Democrats,” McConnell said before Easter. “They will be relevant to the process. It will require 60 votes. I’m confident that Senate Democrats are not going to want to shut down the government.”

So now we have leading Republicans calling on President Trump to work with the Democrats.

But Democrats know that Trump’s plans for future budgets anger their base. So why would they help him?

The Trump blueprint for future budgets, released last month, outlined draconian cuts to funds that support popular education, social welfare and economic development programs. Meals on wheels for the elderly and afterschool programs for disadvantaged youths were two that invited public outcry.

Trump recently said he remains focused on health reform and is threatening to withhold subsidies to insurance companies to force Democrats to help him pass a bill to replace ObamaCare.

"Health care [reform] is going to happen at some point,” the president told my Fox colleague Maria Bartiromo. “Now, if it doesn't happen fast enough, I'll start the taxes. But the tax reform and the tax cuts are better if I can do health care first."

If you are a Democrat who enjoyed the disastrous GOP civil war over their health care bill, then you are going to love the upcoming GOP slugfest over spending and taxes. If past is prologue then Trump will be frustrated, and fail to get his tax and spending plans passed by the splintered GOP Congress.

His biggest success will be in driving down the GOP’s poll numbers as the midterm elections get closer by the day.

 

Juan Williams currently serves as a co-host of FOX News Channel's (FNC) "The Five" (weekdays, 9-10PM/ET) and also appears as a political analyst on "FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace" and "Special Report with Bret Baier."