Unless he can summon a miracle, President Trump is going to reach 100 days in office without getting anything on his wish list through Congress. And the fact we're measuring his failures by this timetable is largely his fault.
First, what he promised to get done but hasn't:
The biggest tax cut since Ronald Reagan? The one page that the White House released on Wednesday, Day 97, certainly has a lot of tax cuts in it. But it's a sketch of a plan.
Repeal and replace Obamacare? Their first attempt to revise health care blew up in their faces. House Republicans are trying again, but there's no guarantee it can get through Congress — this week or any time. Also, nothing they're considering actually repeals Obamacare like Trump had promised to do.
And, irony alert: Trump will likely have to fund Obamacare subsidies that keep Obamacare alive.
A big, beautiful wall on the U.S.-Mexico border? Trump hasn't gotten a dime budgeted for it — from Mexico or from Congress. And the longer he goes without money for it, the less likely he is to actually get it.
Eight Syrians were just caught on the southern border trying to get into the U.S. ISIS maybe? I told you so. WE NEED A BIG & BEAUTIFUL WALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2015
Massive cuts in domestic programs to fund massive increases in military spending? Neither of those things will be reflected in this month's spending bill to keep the government open, and experts aren't sure these changes will ever pass Congress.
A $1 trillion infrastructure reform package: What infrastructure reform? This isn't even on Congress's radar right now.
Finally, Trump won't even sign a four-month spending bill to keep the government open for the rest of the fiscal year in his first 100 days. Congress looks likely to put off negotiations for another week by passing a one-week spending bill before the deadline Friday, Trump's 99th day in office.
"The things where he himself put timetables — tax reform, infrastructure, a real budget, repeal and replace — he's 0 for 4," said Steve Bell, a former GOP Senate budget aide now with the Bipartisan Policy Institute.
biggest only 100-day legislative victories aren't game plans he can follow to get anything above done, even in his first 1,000 days. He has signed more than a dozen laws rolling back Obama-era regulations on everything from guns to coal dumping to education. But the obscure law he and Republicans used to do it is only good for another month.
And Trump did manage to put a Supreme Court justice on the bench. But it came only after a major change to Senate rules. Unless Republicans want to unravel the rules any further (not likely), victories like that will be few and far between.
Even the stuff Trump can do on his own — executive orders — have hit quicksand. His most significant executive orders, a travel ban and pressure on sanctuary cities, are stuck in the courts.
Trump has about exhausted his unilateral power. The rest of his agenda needs Congress to get done.
No president — no matter how much of a dealmaker — can force Congress to pass bills. But Trump set himself up for failure in a way past presidents never have. He promised to get his priorities through Congress in a matter of months.
That was an amateur move, says pretty much anyone who knows anything about Congress. Major legislation doesn't happen in increments of weeks or months. It happens in years: Medicare, gun reform, Obamacare. These things took years, if not decades.
"He didn't grasp the reality of legislating," Bell said. "It takes a lot of time."
The fact Trump would make promises like that also suggests he doesn't have a lot of people around him who understand Congress. And that's to Trump's disadvantage on any day of his administration.
Congress has always been tricky for presidents to navigate, but this Congress is especially so. Republicans have a majority in both the House and the Senate, but it's an ideologically divided majority. (Trump couldn't close that divide to get health-care reform through in March.) Making his life harder, Democrats are almost entirely unified behind one goal: to give Trump as many losses as they can.
"If you don't understand the legislative process really seriously, you're going to make mistakes," Bell said.
And yes, the 100-day marker that's the premise for writing this entire story is arbitrary. But it's also the standard Trump set for himself.
Yet even if he hadn't said anything about getting tax reform and repealing Obamacare and the like done in 100 days, it would be a fair maker to judge him by, especially when it comes to his relationship with Congress.
Past presidents who have reached 100 days without any working relationship with Congress never really recovered. Congress will never be easier for Trump to deal with than right now: Elections are a year and a half away, and there are newer members without entrenched beliefs who are ostensibly easier to negotiate with.
Congress was always going to be a headache for Trump. No one expected him to get tax reform, health care, a border wall and infrastructure reform done in his first four months. No one except Trump.
And that's why we're writing a story pointing out that Trump is nearly 100 days in, and he has zero of his legislative promises to tweet about.