Point-Counterpoint: Trump’s First Year In Office

By MIA LENZI and INDIA KRUG

A successful first year for President Trump

By MIA LENZI – January 20 has recently passed leaving presses hot with the latest articles reviewing President Trump’s first year in office. Many will choose to overlook the positives of the year, but the previous 365 days have been full of accomplishments.

This past presidential election has been one of the most controversial, and many people, including IHS students, continue to vocalize their opinions on the outcome. One year has passed, and even though many refuse to leave the Democratic loss in the past, it is time to face the numerous accomplishments made by President Donald Trump.

President Trump started out his campaigning making many promises to the American people. To this day, he still holds those promises and has worked fearlessly to make them a reality. As of the new year, the largest tax cuts since 1986 have taken effect, benefiting the American taxpayers.

Senior Vince Birch says, “The promised tax cut was a positive piece of legislation in the past year. Not only will it lower taxes for many middle and lower income families, it made the system much simpler, preventing individuals from exploiting loopholes.”

In recent weeks, working Americans have seen the positive financial effects of this legislation. 164 companies, as a result of the new tax law, have increased hourly pay wages, increased contributions to 401(k) plans, or offered one-time bonuses. These changes have affected three million working families.

Those in opposition to President Trump’s tax plan favor the example of a family of four making $45,000 a year is not benefiting from this tax cut when in reality, they were not paying federal income tax under the old system. Many of those said families who filed and earned income tax payment actually received a refund.

Taxes do not cure poverty, work and education do. It would be a great challenge to find one person who can point to taxes as their passage out of poverty; based on his policies, President Trump clearly understands this.

President Trump also held fast to his promise of diminishing the Islamic State. Trump has given more decision-making freedom to military leaders, allowing them to make a hearty amount of headway in fighting back terror organizations. By openly identifying the enemy, steps have been made to minimize their power. “In the past year, [Trump] has virtually eliminated Islamic State’s physical caliphate,” adds senior Keegan Ryan.

One specific promise President Trump made to America was to increase the security of its borders. Despite the continued battle over building a southern wall, the constitutionality of the final version of the travel ban was upheld by the Supreme Court.

The U.S’s federal prison systems are by far populated by native-born Americans yet, over 45,000 (24%) of our federal prison population are foreign-born prisoners. 33% percent of those foreign-born prisoners are under investigation by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Each crime committed by an illegal immigrant is one that could have been prevented with tougher laws.

Illegal immigrant crime is under-reported because statistics do not include those that procure fraudulent social security numbers, driver’s licenses, green cards, and improperly accessed public benefits.

President Trump was willing to take on an issue shied away from by his predecessors and has declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. Plans have been initiated to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This promise is a reaction to a legislation passed in 1995 mandating that the embassy be moved. President Trump is the first one to have the courage to comply with that legislation in an attempt to repair previous damage to the U.S. and Israel relations. Trump has openly recognized by his words and actions the importance of Israel as a U.S. ally.

The President has also successfully broken the record for the number of federal appeals court judges appointed in the first year. He has currently appointed 12, beating the record of 11. For those who take concern in feminine power, Trump has named more women to senior positions and cabinet posts than any other president in history. Senior Kara Gibbon states, “[Trump] has signed the most pieces of legislation his first year in office, beating Truman’s record.”

With President Trump’s leadership, Obamacare’s individual mandate has successfully been repealed by Congress, no longer mandating Americans who personally choose to not have health care pay a penalty. Continuing on throughout the year, 1,500 regulations have been canceled or delayed, and for each new regulation, 22 have been cut, which will eventually save taxpayers and the economy billions of dollars.

These changes have given people a choice as to whether to purchase health insurance. President Trump has also given people a voice in whether their tax dollars fund Planned Parenthood. People who feel that Planned Parenthood and the services they provide should have greater funding are always free to break out their checkbooks.

Contributing to 327,653 abortions in 2013-2014, Planned Parenthood claims that as only 3% of what they do. Keep in mind that a client who receives a pregnancy test, a pap smear, and returns monthly for birth control is not counted as one, but multiple procedures, thus skewing the numbers.

Legislative issues are not the only things President Trump has made an impact on. A unique hands-on use of social media has helped to include fellow Americans, and override the poisoned fake news waters that many call “reliable journalism” today. The President of the United States is not excluded from the protections of the first amendment, Donald Trump just happens to feel social media is a way to keep Americans in the loop. Whether right or wrong, it is his constitutional privilege.  

Recognition to those who serve our country is now being given like no other. A sense of nationalism and pride in our soldiers and first responders (police, firemen, EMTs) and reverence to the American flag and what it stands for are only a small amount of cultural and social improvements President Trump has embraced.

Over the past eight years it became very politically popular to be embarrassed about being an American, as the former First Lady Michelle Obama states, “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country…”. President Trump is trying to restore American Exceptionalism, which does not rely on financial worth or Hollywood status. It is earned through moral fortitude, law-abiding heroism, and heartfelt love and compassion for fellow humans.

With a first year as successful as this, many predict a bright future for the country. Birch adds, “I think the following year will be similar to this one.  The remaining two years then will depend on the 2018 midterm elections.  If Democrats take control of Congress, I will guess that serious gridlock will then occur and nearly nothing will be accomplished.

There will be hurdles. There will be complications. There will be enemies. This past year needs to stand as proof that the country chose the correct candidate. Nobody is asking people to accept President Trump as a person, they are asking them to respect him as a leader. This small snapshot of his accomplishments acts as proof that Trump is worthy of the Presidency.

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Editor’s note: the previous counterpoint title “Trump’s first year: an epic fail” was published in error. It was not chosen by the author and does not accurately reflect her views.

An unsuccessful first year for President Trump

By INDIA KRUG –  As an American, I am disappointed with Trump’s first year in office. As a student journalist, I believe it is necessary to report unbiased information.  As a liberal, I am often met with claims that I am “too emotional” when discussing Trump.  So let’s give this a go.

The tax plan was the one policy settled on by Republicans last year. Passed on December 19 of 2017, it is under fire for its leniency towards the top five percent of our country, who make around $200,000 and up per year.  

Trump, who makes approximately $600 million annually, said the plan “is going to cost me a fortune this thing, believe me” in an effort to make it more appealing to voters. This statement is incorrect.  The Tax Policy Center found that higher-income households would benefit the most from the plan and the Trump family could have an estimated $1 billion in tax cuts.

It follows a “trickle-down economics” system that leaves responsibility in the hands of the wealthy (we all remember Hillary’s horrendous “trumped up, trickle down” schtick).  It involves giving major tax cuts to the upper class and relying on them to redistribute that revenue into the economy through their companies, businesses, etc.

So, why won’t this work?  Simply because most of them are too greedy.  If the 95th percentile had ever been willing to share their wealth to improve income disparity, we wouldn’t have such stark contrasts between classes and we certainly wouldn’t have the board game “Monopoly.”

Trump tweeted on December 20th that this plan was “the biggest in [the] history [of] Tax Cut and Reform Bill[s],” which is a false statement. There have been over three bills in the past that have been bigger.  And size is not always something to boast about; this bill will add $1.5 trillion to the national debt.

The people most adversely affected by the tax plan are those in the middle and lower classes.  Meaning places like our town, which has a poverty rate of about 20.0% and median income of $45,118 (U.S. Census Bureau).

Sophomore Lily Boulard says, “It is obvious from his tax policies that he is turning his back on the lower class, which he pretended to advocate for during his campaign.”

Although Republicans maintained a majority in both the House and the Senate throughout last year, the healthcare bill has yet to pass through Congress. Trump failed to keep his campaign promise of fully replacing the Affordable Care Act, only partially repealing one of its subdivisions concerning individual mandates.

Despite Trump’s criticisms of Obama’s plan, 11.8 million Americans signed up for the ACA during the 2018 enrollment period.  

This past year has also revealed Trump’s toxic relationship with immigrants.  

Trump can be directly quoted saying the Mexican government “is forcing their most unwanted people into the United States. They are, in many cases, criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.”  This is is incorrect.  Hispanics make up 20.6% of American prisons, compared to whites, who make up 34.2%. (Bureau of Justice Statistics)

Trump has also made statements about Muslims, saying that he “thinks Islam hates us.”  Rhetoric like this is used to create fear and leads to connotations that Muslims are enemies of America.  This mindset is fueled by ignorance and generalization instead of facts. In reality, over half of the mass shootings that have occurred since 1982 have been committed by white men.

A week after Trump took office, he issued a travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries.  This act violated the spirit of the constitution because the first amendment protects the freedom of religion in our country.

Senior Shatha Alawwad states, “I was full of anger and confusion at the incalculable amount of aversion that the Islamic community, and people of color as a whole, were receiving.  As time went on, and seeing many strong people around me using their voice unapologetically, I realized that we have every right to be here and we owe no explanations.”  

Trump has stated that “decades of immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens.”  However, this assertion is not true.  The number of jobs available in the U.S. is not a fixed rate.  As the population grows, so do employment opportunities.  

Over half of immigrants are skilled workers, the stereotypical low-skilled immigrants are a minority. Furthermore,  low-skilled immigrants are at a disadvantage when applying for the same jobs as whites due to language barriers, education levels, and employer prejudices.  

Even names are a setback– a white name on a resume is equal to eight more years of experience when compared to a more foreign-sounding name. (National Bureau of Economic Research)  This means that those “job stealin’ immigrants” have to work twice as hard to be recognized.

Although Trump claims he is “the least racist person,” this past year contains evidence to suggest otherwise.  What he yells at rallies, writes into executive orders, and even retweets all have discriminatory undertones.

Racist groups have littered the headlines since Trump’s inauguration, the most notable being the white nationalist rally in Charleston last summer.  A direct connection can be made between what Trump tells his supporters and the rise in neo-nationalism.

Let me be clear, nationalism is not the same as patriotism.  It is defined as a feeling of superiority over other countries.  It implies prejudice, disrespect, and arrogance. Nationalism is like the drunk uncle at Thanksgiving that everyone is embarrassed to be related to.

Trump’s “America First” mentality does not easily translate to diplomacy.  He offended the people of Haiti and El Salvador by asking the American public “why do we want all these people from s***hole countries coming here?”  

The very fact that I was just forced to cover a swear word with asterisks inside a Trump quote is telling.  Senior Will Luetkehans states, “I think he really needs to mature.  I shouldn’t have to be embarrassed about what my president says.”

Many chose to ignore Trump’s misogynistic tendencies during the 2016 election, hoping they would end once he took office.  Unfortunately, since taking office, he has used his power to aim sexist comments at individual women. During a visit to France, he told President Macron’s wife “You know, you’re in such good shape” in front of her husband.

From the Access Hollywood tape to threatening to remove protections on birth control mandates for over 55 million women, his treatment of women isn’t just unpresidential, it’s unjust. Sophomore Harley Kessler says, “I feel like as a country we are taking backward steps with how women are being treated and viewed.”

A fair amount of supporters receive news through Trump’s twitter, claiming that they like the directiveness and blatant honesty.  However, Politifact, a nonpartisan fact checker, found that a mere 4% of Trump’s statements are irrefutably true.  Another 12% are mostly true.  This means that most of the time his tweets are distributing false information.

Trump voters: please hear me out.  Before you take a Trump tweet or rally announcement as verbatim, fact-check it.  If you support Trump, know what you’re supporting.  You deserve to be informed.  Unbiased sources such as NPR, Wall Street Journal, and BBC are accessible and reliable.

For the next year of the Trump administration, I’m going to dare you to do something.

I dare you to seek out information instead of being fed it.

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[Photo by Joe Luetkehans]

Photo Caption: “Sophomore India Krug and Senior Mia Lenzi dispose of each other’s political merch.”

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