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Trump: My agenda is 'substantially ahead of schedule'

  • The president told an audience of conservatives Friday that he doesn't keep a schedule, but if he did, he'd be "substantially" ahead of it.
  • While Trump may not have a schedule anymore, the Contract with the American Voter he released in 2016 laid out his priorities, many of which are still on the table today.
  • On issues like health care and education, Trump has found ways to work around Congress, whose members he said had "forgotten what their pledges were."

"I don't have a schedule, but if I did have a schedule, I would say we are substantially ahead of schedule," President Donald Trump told an enthusiastic crowd of conservatives Friday at the annual Values Voter Summit in Washington.

"In the last 10 months we have followed through on one promise after another," he said, touting recent stock market gains, regulatory rollbacks and the success of a military campaign against ISIS among his accomplishments.

But while Trump may not have a schedule anymore, there was a time when he did. During the final months of the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump released a two-page Contract with the American Voter, reminiscent of former House Speaker and Trump campaign advisor Newt Gingrich's 1994 Contract with America.

The contract contained "six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, D.C.," "seven actions to protect American workers," and "five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law." It also listed 10 hypothetical pieces of legislation that Trump pledged to "work with Congress to introduce" and "fight for their passage."

At the time of its release, Trump pledged to do all those things in the first 100 days of his presidency. When that deadline came and went in early April, CNBC made the chart below, highlighting in green the contract items that Trump had achieved so far, and in red, the promises he had yet to keep. Now, six months later, all 28 of the red and green highlights on the chart still apply.

To be sure, a number of the president's accomplishments in office were never part of the contract, including successes in the war on ISIS and double-digit gains in major market indexes. But others goals have had to be reworked, like Trump's pledge, on page two, to enact a "Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act."

Speaking to the Values Voters Summit on Friday, Trump blamed the legislative defeat of two Obamacare repeal bills on members of Congress, who Trump said had, "forgotten what their pledges were."

"We're taking a little different route than we had hoped because getting Congress — they've forgotten what their pledges were," Trump told the crowd, made up largely of evangelical Christians. "So, we're going a little different route, but you know what, in the end, it will be just as effective and maybe it will even be better."

In the past 48 hours, the president has taken two major steps toward unraveling the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare. The first was to sign an executive order permitting employers to purchase inexpensive, loosely regulated health plans; the second was to cut off subsidies paid to insurers that reduced the premiums for low-income Americans.

"It is step by step by step," Trump said. "And that was a big step yesterday, another big step was taken the day before yesterday, and one by one it is going to come down, and we're going to have great health care in our country."

Another legislative item on the Contract with American Voters is a "School Choice and Education Opportunity Act," which Trump said would "give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice," while reducing the cost of higher education and ending the education standards approved by individual states, known collectively as Common Core.

Trump has yet to sign any such a bill. But much like he is doing on health care, the president has used his executive powers to take steps that further the goals outlined in the contract. His pick for Education secretary, Betsy DeVos, is a prominent school choice advocate, and this summer he signed an executive order expanding apprenticeships, as a way to prepare more young people for jobs after high school.

The president has so far failed to pass much of the legislation he had planned last fall, from child care tax exemptions and tariffs to discourage corporate offshoring, to a massive infrastructure bill that's still far out on the horizon.

However, Trump's most recent executive actions — one ending health-care subsidies and another decertifying the Iran nuclear deal — are showing the public and the president that there's more than one way for Trump to accomplish his goals. Going forward, executive branch fixes for Trump's legislative wish list could become the norm in the nation's capital.

Read the entire contract: