As we get closer to November 3rd I keep looking at the steady approval of Trump’s handling of the economy. Over the course of his first year Trumps approval for his handling of the US economy has never gone below 40%. His overall approval when compared to his most recent predecessor does suggest that his approval ratings trailed Obama’s. He is however not very far below in approvals when we compare them towards the end of their first terms.
Approval ratings though do not always tell the complete picture. The question that we need to ask ourselves is; “has the president delivered on his major campaign promises?” In his campaign in 2016 there were many issues on which Trump said “I am the only one who can fix it” Today I ask “Did he really fix it?” On this post I will pick 5 key Trump Campaign promises and look at the data to determine if he kept them or not.
Bringing back American Jobs
Most scholars in cult theology will warn you to avoid leaders who would proclaim to have special insight. Specifically, those who claim to be the only person with the unique set of skills for a problem. Trump has done that persistently. In his debate with Hillary he portrayed himself as the only one capable of bringing back outsourced jobs. That unfortunately has not happened. We are now in the midst of a pandemic that his administration has managed poorly mostly through misinformation and disagreements with his own team. This has not stopped him from claiming he is the only one capable of fixing America’s ills. On bringing back American jobs even if we look at prepandemic numbers he has failed terribly. Nearly 1,800 factories have disappeared during Trump’s administration between 2016 and 2018.
Repealing and Replacing Obamacare
Trump on his campaign trail in 2016 talked about repealing and replacing Obamacare. This was a major part of his campaign, the popularity of which always surprised me. During his campaign I attended a town hall right outside Baltimore City at Gaucher College and listened to many ordinary Americans mostly white talk negatively about a healthcare law that provided insurance to many millions of Americans.
Fortunately for most Americans his efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare has so far failed despite numerous attempts. Even the term Obamacare which was meant to be pejorative has become a source of power for this initiative. However his efforts which were mostly directed at chipping away key features of the law has led to an increase in the numbers of the uninsured for the first time in America since 2010. If the Trump administration were ever successful in repealing Obamacare 21 million Americans would lose healthcare coverage.
Building a Wall and Make Mexico Pay for It
This is by far his most popular promise. This promise energized his followers whilst drawing derision from his opponents. Trump has so far built 307 miles of wall along the Southern boarder out of the 1,984-mile long frontier. Every year I bike about 140 miles from Ocean City to Baltimore City. So far Trump has built less than what I would do in a week of cycling daily. From most reports these were mostly replacement for previous barriers which was only effective at keeping out vehicles. He has definitely failed to make Mexico pay for the minuscule border wall that he has so far built.
On the contrary his former associate Steve Bannon was able to use this promise to raise money supposed to privately fund this wall. It appears Steve Bannon did not really get the memo that Mexicans were supposed to pay for that wall. He decided to make Americans pay for the wall. He will be answering financial fraud charges in court on how the monies which he raised from Americans not Mexicans was managed. So for the border wall promise if we assume 50% for the wall and 50% for making Mexico pay for it, how should he score? He must get score of 7.5%. The president only completed 15% of the total terrain he needed to cover and Mexico did not pay for it. He failed on that count.
Suspend Immigration from Terror Prone Countries Like Syria and Libya
Since his inauguration Trump has effectively blocked immigration through various executive orders from countries like Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia. Absent from this list are the countries of origin of the 9-11 terrorist. There were 15 from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates and one from each from Lebanon and Egypt. So Trump did get his travel ban but anyone who has any idea of the history of terrorism in this country is left wondering what purpose this would serve beyond just fulfilling a campaign promise.
Unfortunately right wing terrorism by white extremist continues to be be biggest threat to national security since 9-11. With all his harsh rhetoric, Trump appears to have strategically avoided any form of directive action or pronouncement against right wing groups. Even after the FBI arrested right wing terrorist who attempted to kidnap the Governor of Michigan he continues to maintain his silence on these right wing terrorist.
Cut Taxes For All Americans
Trumps famous tax cut cost the federal government $2.3 trillion. This is about 9% of the US public debt. The tax cut was supposed to stimulate the US economy and create jobs for Americans. This promise was achieved but only in part. The tax cut could potentially benefit most Americans but the loss of some deductions meant that most middle class Americans ended up paying more in taxes. Large multinational corporations and wealthy billionaires had the most benefits. Companies handled this windfall differently. Some paid out dividends to share holders, others reinvested the money. This had a temporary boost to the economy mostly seen in rises in stock market valuations which left many investors with ballooning net worths. This boost was however short lived and the jobs that were expected did not come as many companies were wary of making long term investment in climate with low consumer confidence.
A review by an economic think tank suggests that the big winners in the Trump tax bill were private equity firms, fossil fuel companies, commercial real estate developers, alcohol and beverage industries and wealthy Americans with net worth over 5.5 million due to stepped-up basis loop hole in estate inheritance taxes. Most ordinary Americans saw only modest increases in their take home incomes, in the range of 0.3 – 3%. On the tax cut I would leave Americans to decide if he gets a pass or a fail.
‘I’m the only thing standing between the American dream and total anarchy’ Trump
Today he claims he is the only person standing between the America dram which appears to be slipping away from many Americans and total anarchy. So once again; he is saying; “I am the Only one Who Can Fix it. This time the question we need to ask is if Americans will trust him to fix that?
He is ready once more to fix America; the question is what has he been doing in the past 4 years?
Americans will have to decide that on November 3rd 2020.
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By Dr. Leonard Sowah a physician in Baltimore, Maryland