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Commentary: Half year in office, Trump struggles to deliver, lowers U.S. standing

WASHINGTON — With a half year in office, U.S. President Donald Trump has made little progress on his signature campaign pledges, sending his support rate to a low level and calling into question his ability to deliver policies.

 

As the midpoint of his first year fell on Thursday, the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal in January and Trump’s announcement in June to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement — both of which were also among his campaign promises — have undermined the U.S. international standing, polls show.

 

A new poll by the Washington Post and ABC News put Trump’s approval rating at 36 percent, down from 42 percent in April to hit the lowest level at the six-month mark of any president in 70 years. His standing compares to a 59 percent job approval rating each for Barack Obama and George W. Bush at this point in their first terms.

 

According to the survey conducted July 10-13, 48 percent of respondents see the U.S. leadership in the world has gotten weaker since Trump took office.

 

A separate poll by the Pew Research Center, a Washington think tank, showed Trump and many of his key policies are unpopular around the world, and that ratings for the United States have declined steeply in many countries.

 

The Pew poll covering 37 nations outside the United States said 22 percent have confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. This compares to 64 percent who expressed confidence in Obama during the final years of his presidency to direct the U.S. role in the world.

 

Withdrawing U.S. support for major free trade agreements such as the TPP is opposed by 72 percent across the 37 countries, while 75 percent said Trump is arrogant, according to the poll conducted from Feb. 16 to May 8.

 

In his Asian diplomacy, Trump has sought China’s cooperation in reining in North Korea as the reclusive country aggressively develops a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile that could strike as far as the U.S. mainland. But Trump’s push for China to impose tough sanctions on its defiant neighbor has not worked out.

 

As if to test Trump, North Korea on July 4 conducted its first test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile, a development the president earlier said “won’t happen.”

 

Escalating tensions, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country will never abandon nuclear weapons and will continue to send the United States more “gift packages” of missile and nuclear tests.

 

While China, a strategic rival of the United States, appears reluctant to fully exert its influence and economic leverage over North Korea to change its behavior, the United States, Japan and South Korea vow to apply “maximum pressure” on the North to compel it to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

 

With the ICBM test and the death of an American university student soon after his release from North Korea last month in a coma following more than 17 months’ imprisonment making Washington-Pyongyang talks unlikely, the Trump administration has not ruled out military options in addressing the North Korean nuclear issue.

 

Trump has also yet to achieve his campaign pledges for domestic policies such as building a wall on the border with Mexico and repealing his predecessor Obama’s health care law.

 

Moreover, federal and congressional investigations into the allegation that Trump associates colluded with Russian operatives to help the Republican real estate mogul win the 2016 presidential election have dogged the White House since his inauguration.

 

In a severe blow to Trump, three Republican senators on Tuesday expressed opposition to a GOP bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, without a replacement, making the seven-year Republican quest to undo it increasingly difficult.

 

Trump’s handling of a repeal-only measure at the GOP-controlled Senate cast doubt on his ability to push other policies such as massive tax cuts and infrastructure spending in partnership with Congress.

 

The president has yet to make substantial progress in achieving his ambition to overhaul the nation’s tax system, which features a cut in the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent, and his promised $1 trillion infrastructure spending as part of his stimulus plans.

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