Aug 21, 2019 - Politics & Policy
Trump, the promise-maker
One of President Trump's under-appreciated re-election assets is something all politicians promise but few do: He has largely done precisely what he promised his base he would do.
Why it matters: In our travels around the country, when we push people on why they're sticking with Trump, this is the #1 reason they cite.
Love him or hate him, Trump fixates on turning campaign promises into reality— or at least making the case that he tried:
- Conservative Supreme Court justice? Check and double-check.
- Tax cuts? Check, although they were heavily weighted toward corporations rather than the middle class.
- Gut regulations, especially from the Obama era? Check.
- Crack down on immigration? Even this is a check, despite his failure to build a wall.
- Tariffs on China? Check.
- Declaring China a currency manipulator? Check.
- Withdrawing from Paris climate agreement? Check.
- Withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal? Check.
- Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the giant Pacific Rim trade deal? Check.
- Renegotiating NAFTA? Check. (Pending congressional approval.)
Then there are the huge promises Trump hasn't kept:
- He promised in a 2016 interview, with the WashPost's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, to wipe out the national debt in eight years. Instead, he’s increased the deficit and inflated the debt by trillions.
- He promised to build "a great wall," but inflates the mileage he claims by mixing replacement projects with new construction.
- He promised Mexico would pay, but of course it hasn't.
- He promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act and give amazing health care to everyone. Failed on both scores.
- He promised to reverse trade deficits. Instead, the U.S. trade deficit with Europe has grown.
- Trump, who yesterday called Afghanistan "the Harvard University of terrorism," had pushed to end America's longest war. But he hasn't withdrawn all U.S. troops, and said: "[W]e’ll always have somebody there."
- Other areas where reality has fallen short: infrastructure ("We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways and waterways all across our land") and ending the opioid crisis.
- Perhaps Trump's most absurd broken promise: to drain the swamp. Instead, he brought us Scott Pruitt and friends.
What's next: Watch for Trump to argue that unfulfilled promises are the fault of others.
Go deeper: Trump's shaky policy legacy