President Donald Trump's first year in was surrounded with political turmoil and controversy from the start, but regardless of the partisanship coming from both sides of the aisle, he was able to complete some his top priorities.
Those who thought the end of the 2016 election season would lessen the bitter political divide across the country were sorely mistaken in 2017. Much of 2017 felt like a continuation of the campaign. Trump continued his aggressive rhetoric, including his infamous tweet storms, against friend and foe alike, while his Democratic opponents did what they could to stall him from the start. Trump's results have been mixed at best. He finished the year with a record low approval rating for a president at this point, and has faced push-back from critics in both parties. That said, Trump has been able to leverage the Republican majorities in Congress to accomplish some of his goals.
It seems as though Republicans have been pushing for tax reform since the last tax bill was passed more than three decades ago, but in 2017 they were finally able to push something through. The process was hardly smooth, and it was unsurprisingly passed on party lines. Some of its provisions that help the average voter for the immediate future may actually be only temporary, and it is projected to add to the U.S. deficit. But Trump and the GOP were able to slash America's remarkably high corporate tax rate from 35 percent (formerly the highest among developed countries) to a more competitive 21 percent.
The Republican plan to "repeal and replace" Obamacare did not happen in 2017, despite the several years between its becoming law in 2010 and Trump's inauguration in 2017. That said, the GOP was able to include a provision inside the new tax bill that repealed the Obama-era individual mandate. This was the provision that required everyone to have health insurance either privately through an employer or through the state marketplaces, or face a penalty. It's a crucial part of the law that many critics considered unfair.
"Repealing the individual mandate tax is the beginning of the end of the ObamaCare era, which has been marked by skyrocketing premiums and shrinking choices, making America’s health-care system untenable and unsustainable," said Sen. Orrin Hatch in an op-ed for Fox News in December.
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch
Presidents come and go regularly, but Supreme Court justices stick around a lot longer. And that makes their nomination by the president a key building block for any president's legacy. The unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a traditionally conservative jurist who preferred to follow the Constitution as written, left a major ideological whole in the court. Trump was able to replace him with Gorsuch, another conservative judge who also respected the letter of the law. Gorsuch's successful nomination keeps the court contentious, leaving a legacy for Trump well after he leaves office.