Did Trump do anything right?

Published: 12/27/2020 7:39:59 PM truThis column is about some of the things that the most abhorrent president in my lifetime, Donald...

Published: 12/27/2020 7:39:59 PM

truThis column is about some of the things that the most abhorrent president in my lifetime, Donald Trump, may actually have done right. As his presidency is coming to an end (thank goodness) this column asks readers to think about that possibility.

My first premise is this: if a politician keeps their promises that is a good thing. According to the New York Times, Donald Trump made about 100 campaign promises and kept 50% of them. Trump’s supporters believe he kept 80% of his promises including those of the greatest importance. Some people may believe that those promises should never have been made in the first place, but that is a separate matter.

Let’s look at some of those promises

Appoint conservative judges: Three Supreme Court Justices and 25 percent of the federal judiciary are now made up of Trump appointees. In my view as a Never Trumper, two of the SCOTUS appointments should not have been his to make. However, for many supporters this was the most important promise of them all.

Renegotiate trade deals: In the words of the New York Times, “During the 2016 race, Mr. Trump broke with bipartisan orthodoxy and questioned Washington’s decades-long support for free trade deals. He vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement or withdraw from it entirely, pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and raise tariffs.”

He has delivered on those promises. Economists disagree as to how many jobs were actually saved but that is a separate matter. 

Jerusalem Embassy: Fulfilling a promise made by both major parties for many years but never fulfilled, Trump moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. This move was viewed very positively by many of his supporters and others.

Cutting taxes: Trump did in fact have a tax cut passed. The Tax Policy Center, a joint partnership between the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, estimated that it was only one-quarter the size of the plan Mr. Trump campaigned on, but that fact didn’t seem to negate its popularity with his supporters. In my opinion no tax cut was warranted in the first place and the cuts benefited in large measure the wealthiest Americans. However, that too is a separate matter.

Iran Agreement (JCPOA): As promised, Trump withdrew from this agreement . Many critics noted at the time that it did not ban missile development. The agreement also contained sunset clauses that, in the words of Reuters, “provide Iran a legal, internationally recognized pathway to nuclear weapons capability. It is unfathomable that it would relinquish this, certainly absent extraordinary coercion, which is not currently in the offing.”

In addition, the inspection protocols were actually much weaker than President Obama said they were.

Now let’s look at some of the things that happened during the Trump administration that were, in my opinion, good for our country.

Economy: Before the COVID pandemic, unemployment was 3.5 %. Also, the 25% lowest-paid Americans enjoyed a 4.5% income boost, which outpaces a 2.9% gain in earnings for the country’s highest-paid workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing employment rose by about 500,000 across the nation through March 2020.

No new wars: Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has not gotten engaged in new wars or escalated existing ones. According to the Congressional Research Service, there have been fewer than 100 American military combat deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq over the span of the last four years .

Abraham Accords: In September 2020, President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain at the White House to mark the establishment of diplomatic relations. In October, Sudan and Israel agreed to normalize relations. In December, Morocco and Israel agreed to establish diplomatic relations. Diplomatic and trade relations among these countries will bring a measure of stability and prosperity to the Middle East.

It is my ardent hope that the Abraham agreements may encourage movement toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In fact, on Dec. 10, Palestinian President Abbas said that Palestinians are ready to resume peace talks with Israel

In my opinion, the decisions and policies discussed in this column should be evaluated on their own merits or lack thereof. We should not automatically label anything that Donald Trump has touched a failure.

All of us Americans live in the same country even though sometimes it feels as though we inhabit different worlds. My hope is that pro- and anti-Trump Americans can agree that Trump may have done at least one thing right. Perhaps that would be one step in a long journey to some measure of national depolarization.

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Newsrust: Did Trump do anything right?
Did Trump do anything right?
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