How America's mood swung back to Obama

HE swept to power promising to change politics '“ and exactly a year on, most would acknowledge that the climate on Capitol Hill is distinctly different. But few of the changes are the ones Donald Trump had in mind.

President Donald Trump dances with first lady Melania Trump, at The Salute To Our Armed Services Inaugural Ball in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump dances with first lady Melania Trump, at The Salute To Our Armed Services Inaugural Ball in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

He has ended his first year in office with an approval rating of 37 per cent, according to the American pollster. Gallup – the lowest for any president since the end of the Second World War.

Barack Obama’s rating was 50 per cent at the same point in his presidency, Bill Clinton’s 54 per cent and George W Bush’s, skewed by the attack on New York and Washington four months earlier, 83 per cent.

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But the changes Trump’s voters expected in his oft-repeated mission to “make America great again” have been few and far between.

Most spectacularly, his promise to repeal and replace President Obama’s healthcare reform policy that aimed to give all Americans affordable medical cover, has succeeded in swinging public opinion back towards his predecessor.

Dr Leslie Vinjamuri, of SOAS, University of London, said that despite Trump’s campaigning on how awful the affordable care act was, “public opinion in support of Obamacare has risen quite significantly during his administration”.

Another key campaign pledge was to build a wall along the border with Mexico, paid for by the neighbouring country.

There is no wall covering the 2,000-mile border yet, although the department of homeland security did announce the names of potential contractors last August.

Despite often tweeting criticism of other world leaders, the President has had some foreign policy successes.

One of his first moves in office was to withdraw the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as promised. Mr Trump also said, to a chorus of worldwide condemnation, that he would “cancel the Paris Climate Agreement”, having previously described climate change as a hoax by the Chinese to hurt US manufacturing. Last June he duly announced the country’s withdrawal, but last week he said the US could “conceivably” rejoin.

In 2015 Mr Trump proposed a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US”, but that was later diluted to suspending immigration from countries “compromised by terrorism”.

Some of his other excursions into foreign policy have attracted outright ridicule. He referred to a nonexistent country called “Nambia”, and when meeting the Russian Ambassador in the Oval Office he reportedly revealed highly classified information and referred to James Comey, the FBI Director he had just fired, as “a real nut job”.

However, the President did follow through on a promise to introduce a 15 per cent flat tax rate for businesses, pushing a compromised tax bill through the House and just about getting it through the Senate.

“Republicans were coming to the one-year mark and they wanted that success,” said Dr Vinjamuri.

“They wanted to be able to go home and say they’d cut the corporate tax rate and given everybody a tax cut, and there was a time limit on that.”