The SAT is a standardized test for college admissions. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the total monetary value of all goods and services produced within the borders of a nation in a specific period of time. Both of these measurements are standards, just like the 100-day benchmark for a U.S president.
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Both the SAT, GDP and the 100-day benchmark are similar in that they attempt to provide a standardized gauge of accomplishments. Yet, like all standardized benchmarks, all three have downsides.
The 100-day benchmark is great in that it incentivizes the president to act swiftly on their promises, because if they don't, they may pale in comparison to the data of the first 100 days from past presidents.
However, this 100-day benchmark is arguably insignificant and even dangerous. It is an arbitrary amount of time that pressures presidents to rush their promises to look good in the public eye. And especially in these partisan times, looking good in politics is crucial for success.
Additionally, the first 100-day assessment of the president may not represent the true accomplishments of the president; each president may preside over a different socio-economic atmosphere given the health of the country at that time. You can't compare apples and oranges.
"It's not fair to judge presidents by their first 100 days," says political scientist David Jones. "It's both been a media narrative, and candidates themselves have fed into that, talking about what they're going to do during that first 100 days."
Nevertheless, let's compare Trump and Biden's first 100 days in office.
Former President Donald Trump
Within his litany of promises, Trump fell short on a lot of them. He promised that in his first 100 days he would "repeal Obamacare, build a wall on the border with Mexico, and persuade Congress to pass term limits," according to the Los Angels Times. Turns out, he couldn't keep those promises.
But let's start from the beginning. On January 27th, 2017, Trump issued an executive order that banned nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries from visiting the U.S for 90 days. His reason: national security. It caused lots of distress and as a result, there were many lawsuits filed. One of which reached the Supreme Court where, by a 5-4 vote, Trump was acquitted.
Also, during the early days of Trump's presidency, the seeds for his soon-to-be impeachment were beginning to germinate. But the allegations didn't only target Trump. Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign advisor, was convicted of tax and bank fraud. Goerge Papadopoulos, Trump's former foreign policy advisor, was incarcerated for 12 days. And Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was disbarred and plead guilty to five charges of tax evasion. This dishonesty and mayhem did not make the Trump administration look good.
Furthermore, there was not one significant piece of legislation passed in his first 100 days. He mostly worked around Congress to issue executive orders. In this time period, he also appointed a Supreme Court Judge.
President Joseph Biden
Biden has kept 24 of his 61 promises for the first 100 days in office, and he has made progress on all but 4 of them. He doubled his promise to deliver 100 million vaccines to the American people by delivering over 200 million doses. And, he passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. Suffice to say, he has cracked down on the virus.
Being a strong believer in combatting climate change, he has joined the Paris Climate Accord again. Biden has canceled the Key Stone Pipeline as it poses environmental threats. However, this was a highly controversial executive order.
Biden has also rolled back harsh Trump-era immigration policies and has recently increased the number of refugees allowed to enter the U.S in the next six months to 62,500.
Like his predecessors, Biden has promised to end the "forever war", and has taken steps to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan.
At the end of the first 100 days in office, Biden had a 53.3% approval rate while Trump had 41.9%, and Obama had 61%. What does that mean? It's up to you. The socio-economic health of the U.S may skew those approval ratings, or your political views may blind you - it's up to you how you interpret these facts. Facts like how Trump played more golf than Biden did in the first 100 days. So like the SAT and GDP, the first 100 days is a benchmark. It can help people compare presidents but it can also be misleading. It is up to the people to create interpretations and hopefully question them.