U.S. President Donald Trump is close to completing his first 100 days in office, a somewhat arbitrary marker that entered the American lexicon during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s time. While many believe a president’s influence and capacity for action may be greatest in this period, there is nothing particularly magical or predictive about the first 100 days in office. For some presidents, a productive first 100 days has translated into a relatively industrious time in office (Ronald Reagan is one example), while others who have struggled in the first 100 days have gone on to achieve key elements of their agendas (e.g., Bill Clinton). Looking at several metrics – legislative achievements, staffing in key areas and executive orders – President Trump’s first-100-day track record has been mixed.
On one hand, Trump has had no major legislative achievements, and his relationship with Congress – a predictor for future legislative success – is not particularly strong (at least as of now). Additionally, vacancies in vital positions remain throughout the executive branch, potentially hindering President Trump’s ability to advance his agenda at the executive level.
On the other hand, the president has been active in terms of issuing executive orders, ranging from financial deregulation, to trade, to the tax code. Of course, executive orders without subsequent congressional action often have limited effectiveness and are frequently more symbolic than substantive. Nonetheless, President Trump, similar to his predecessor, is finding executive orders the most straightforward way to leave his fingerprints on Washington.