White House release touting Trump’s 100 day accomplishments is riddled with errors

The truth hurts.

CREDIT: CNN screengrab
CREDIT: CNN screengrab

With President Trump’s 100th day in office fast approaching — he’ll reach the milestone on Saturday, April 29 — the White House distributed a press release on Tuesday about “President Trump’s 100 Days of Historic Accomplishments.”

The release sorts Trump’s accomplishments into three categories. Front and center is a section entitled “TAKING EXECUTIVE ACTION” that touts the 30 executive orders Trump has signed in hist first 100 days — a total the White House says is higher “than any other President since Franklin Roosevelt.”

There are two big problems with that claim, however.

First, it’s false. As historian Peter A. Shulman explained, the White House is overlooking executive orders not included in the American Presidency Project, the non-comprehensive source the Trump administration appears to have used to tally the number of executive orders signed by previous presidents.

When executive orders not included in the American Presidency Project are included, FDR’s total actually dwarfs Trump.

The White House press release is also way off about the number of EOs President Truman signed during his first 100 days, as Shulman details. Instead of actually looking at Truman’s first 100 days in office following FDR’s death in 1945 (50), the White House seems to have calculated the number he signed after his second inauguration in 1949 (25).

Besides those inaccuracies, it’s odd that Trump would tout EOs as an accomplishment, since he repeatedly criticized President Obama for signing them. In December 2015, candidate Trump blasted Obama’s EOs and characterized them as the last resort of presidents who can’t work with Congress.

“I don’t think he even tries anymore. I think he just signs executive actions,” Trump said of Obama. “That’s the way the system is supposed to work. And then all of a sudden, I hear he tried, he can’t do it, and then, boom, and then another one, boom.”

Trump also blasted Obama’s executive orders in 2012, tweeting that they represent “major power grabs of authority.”

Trump, unlike Obama in 2012, benefits from his party controlling both chambers of Congress. But not only has Trump resorted to EOs — characterized by prominent Republicans as the sort of governance employed by dictators, kings, and tyrants as recently as last year — his administration is apparently proud of it.

There’s also the question of how much credit Trump should take for signing executive orders that in some cases he seems to be barely familiar with. For instance, during a signing ceremony for an executive order on agriculture on Tuesday, Trump, reading off a sheet of paper, said, “So this is promoting agriculture and rural prosperity in America. And now there’s a lot of words, I won’t bother reading everything, but agriculture and rural prosperity in America — that’s what we want.”

The White House release also touts Trump’s work to roll back Obama-era regulations — including a number of environmental protections that were meant to ensure future generations inherit a habitable planet — and, finally, the 28 bills he’s signed during his first 100 days.

“A SLEW OF LEGISLATION SIGNED: Despite historic Democrat obstructionism, President Trump has worked with Congress to pass more legislation in his first 100 days than any President since Truman,” it says, again conveniently overlooking Republican control of both chambers of Congress.

But none of the bills Trump have signed represent major pieces of legislation — in fact, many of them are remarkably minor:

By contrast, during his first 100 days, FDR signed the National Industrial Recovery Act, which created the Public Works Administration. Obama signed the stimulus. Less than a month after President George W. Bush’s 100th days, Congress approved major tax reform. Not only is Trump not close to getting any of his major first-100-days priorities through Congress, the one major piece of legislation he did try to push — repealing and replacing Obamacare — had a 17 percent approval rating and stalled before the House even voted on it.

While the White House is touting Trump’s accomplishments, Trump himself seems torn between downplaying expectations and asserting, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, that the early days of his administration have been a success. During a speech in Kenosha, Wisconsin last Tuesday, Trump said, “No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.” But three days later, Trump took to Twitter to bemoan that no matter what he accomplishes during the “ridiculous standard” that is his first 100 days in office, it won’t be enough for the media.

Candidate Trump, however, promoted a “100-day action plan” he characterized as “a contract between myself and the American voter — and begins with restoring honesty and accountability, and bringing change to Washington.”

Not a single piece of legislation Trump singled out as a priority in his 100 day plan has been enacted.