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January 25, 2018

Trump’s Conservative Policy Achievements by the Numbers

Believe it or not, Trump is beating Reagan when it comes to enacting The Heritage Foundation’s policy ideas.

Just as important as making good policy decisions is being selective about from where those policy ideas derive. After all, it’s critical that conservative policy prescriptions have strong scholarly backing, and there’s no better repository than The Heritage Foundation’s “Mandate for Leadership.” This mandate consists of guidance on roughly 334 individual policies. And to Donald Trump’s great credit, he’s adopted a majority of these proposals in his quest to enact conservative reforms.

According to The Heritage Foundation, “Analysis completed by Heritage determined that 64 percent of the policy prescriptions were included in Trump’s budget, implemented through regulatory guidance, or under consideration for action in accordance with The Heritage Foundation’s original proposals.”

The “Mandate for Leadership” made its initial appearance in 1981 and was heavily consulted by President Ronald Reagan. The work for the latest edition got underway in 2016 and has found even broader acceptance under President Donald Trump. This is aided by the fact that many Heritage alumni helped or are helping mold the administration. As Heritage explains, “With approximately 70 former Heritage employees working for the Trump transition team or as part of the administration, the policy recommendations have served as guidelines for reducing the size and scope of the federal government through specific and detailed actions.”

It’s not often that Ronald Reagan is bested by his successors, but in terms of policy executions, Trump has jumped to the forefront. According to The New York Times, “In Reagan’s first year, only 49 percent of Heritage’s wish list items were embraced by the president or enacted,” whereas Trump sits 15 points higher.

The Washington Examiner’s Philip Wegmann offers a sound reason for why this is the case. “When other conservatives kept their distance, Heritage welcomed Trump with open arms,” Wegmann writes. “He needed a detailed agenda and they had a stockpile of policy proposals ready to roll. And so, in the absence of his own ideas, the ideological wildcard of an executive adopted the ideas of the biggest conservative think tank in Washington.”

The Heritage Foundation and Donald Trump both deserve accolades for working together to move ahead despite the Republican Party’s perpetual infighting. Trump is unorthodox, to say the least, but his first year was largely a success because he lacked an ideological agenda. Fortunately, Heritage was there to fill in the gaps. When former Heritage President Jim DeMint found himself suddenly jobless, many presumed Heritage was no longer a game changer. Its success inside Trump’s White House proves that’s anything but the case.

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