The urgent need to bring back middle-class jobs was an elemental theme of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. But it’s barely part of his actual presidency, so far.
President Trump’s tenure in office has been dominated by controversy, from the firing of FBI Director James Comey to the Muslim travel bans repeatedly struck down by federal courts. The president, of course, has considerable power to set the agenda in the nation’s capital, through the bully pulpit of the White House and the authority vested in the office. But Trump, for the most part, has not used that power to focus on jobs. Instead, he has stoked controversy when he could have been changing the subject and highlighting his economic agenda.
During the last few weeks, for instance, Trump and his aides have touted plans to improve job training, promote apprenticeships that lead to good-paying jobs, and invest more in infrastructure. Those are generally mainstream ideas with bipartisan support that could help the “forgotten” workers Trump has appealed to since his earliest days as a candidate. But talk is cheap in Washington, and it takes dogged determination to turn theoretical plans into concrete action that helps real people.
So how determined is Trump to follow through on his economic agenda? To asses what Trump really pays attention to, Yahoo Finance analyzed all of Trump’s tweets since June 1 – when the White House began declaring theme weeks – as tweeting is his preferred way of communicating with the public. We analyzed 108 tweets from both of his Twitter accounts – @realdonaldtrump and @POTUS – and assigned each a general theme, based on the tweet’s content. We included only original tweets, not retweets. Here’s how they break down, by topic:
Jobs are tied for last in terms of Trump’s tweet content, accounting for just 5.6% of his tweets since June 1. And all 6 of those Tweets were perfunctory, touting the opening of a new coal mine, declaring “#workforceweek” a “great success,” repeating scripted White House talking points, or taking credit for economic news when it happened to be good:
Trump had nothing to say about jobs via Twitter when the subject wasn’t already on the White House agenda. But he had plenty to say about other topics, more or less off-the-cuff. Trump pressed hard for Republican Karen Handel to win the special House election in Georgia’s sixth district. He continued to bash Hillary Clinton and “obstructionist” Democrats in Congress. And of course he griped about “fake news” and the “witch hunt” into his team’s connections with Russia.
Analyzing a handful of tweets is obviously an unscientific way to judge a president’s entire agenda. But there’s little progress in any other realm on his economic plans. GOP tax cuts are stuck in a legislative logjam, and the White House still hasn’t released its own tax plan. Trump’s promise to rework trade deals is under review. There’s no sign of an infrastructure bill. And while Trump talked up the need for better job training and a reinvigorated federal role in the marketplace, the budget he proposed in May would actually slash funding for job-training programs by 40%.
Trump supporters point out, correctly, that the economy remains relatively strong and the stock market has been hitting new record highs all year. Our own Trumponomics Report Card rates the economy a B+ under Trump so far. But Trump inherited an economy with strong job growth and improving corporate profits, and it’s not clear whether his policies will end up helping much, if at all, by the time midterm elections roll around in 2018. If robust job creation doesn’t interest Trump now, it might by then.
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Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman