President Donald Trump became an ex-president on Wednesday, as Joe Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States. We wish him nothing but the best. But before we let Trump go, we thought we’d review some of his biggest accomplishments while in office. We call them “triumphs,” because they were all big achievements executed against great odds.
More than any other president of recent memory, Trump fought hard for average working Americans. And contrary to the epithets thrown at him by his far-left detractors in the Democratic Party, his policies helped low-income and minority Americans most of all.
We believe – we hope – that Trump’s post-presidential career and reputation will resemble President Ronald Reagan’s. For those old enough to remember, Reagan also was called every vile name in the book, from “senile” to “fascist” and everything between. Yet, today, in retrospect, his presidency shines as a beacon in our nation’s history.
Given the at-times unhinged nature of the criticism directed at Trump’s presidency by the left and Republican “never-Trumpers,” Trump’s performance in just four years was nothing short of remarkable. He promulgated dozens, if not hundreds, of successful policies that other presidents talked about, but never secured.
He reached so many we can’t highlight all of them. But here are 10 that we believe stand out — and that future presidents (are you listening, Joe Biden?) would be foolish to reverse or overturn:
- 1. Slashed taxes on individuals and businesses. As an earlier administration said, “It’s the economy, stupid.” As much as anything, Trump’s growth-boosting $1.9 trillion in tax cuts and doubling of the child tax credit led to the bottom-up growth of our economy, as unemployment rates plunged for African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics and women, and poverty rates plummeted to an all-time low in 2019, before COVID-19 struck. The bottom 20% of incomes posted a 16%-plus rise, the largest ever for those on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
- Yes, Wall Street and Silicon Valley moguls made out well as stocks boomed. But so did average Americans, especially the middle class. More than half of all Americans now own stock, a fact that’s lost on those who curse the stock market and “tax cuts for the rich.” By the way, the top income earners were the only group to pay more to Uncle Sam under the Trump tax cuts. And income inequality under Trump fell, after rising during Obama’s eight years in office.
- 2. Forged peace in the Mideast. The big media have tried to pretend that Trump’s unorthodox but astoundingly successful peace deals don’t exist. But it’s no accident that Trump has already been nominated — twice — for the Nobel Peace Prize. He deserves it. This year, thanks almost entirely to Trump’s efforts under the “Abraham Accords,” Israel has normalized diplomatic ties with four Arab League members: Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco. Jordan and Egypt already have ties. Terrorist sponsor Iran, meanwhile, has never been more isolated and on the defensive than it is now, thanks to Trump’s pulling out of President Barack Obama’s phony “nuclear deal” with Tehran’s mullahs. And while the terrorist group ISIS still exists, it has effectively been neutered, a shell of its former self, pushed out of nearly all its strongholds in Syria and Iraq.
- 3. Created Operation Warp Speed. The Chinese virus hit the U.S. hard. It’s now clear that China’s communist regime downplayed the deadly virus outbreak early, leading to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus that official data show has killed 400,000 Americans. Trump was ridiculed and berated for daring to think he could push the creation of a new, effective vaccine within the remaining months of his term. Yet, as Bloomberg noted on Wednesday, “Vaccinations in the U.S. began Dec. 14 with health care workers, and so far 16.3 million shots have been given, according to a state-by-state tally … In the last week, an average of 806,716 doses per day were administered.” The vaccine critics were dead wrong, and Trump’s push may well end up saving hundreds of thousands of lives in coming years.
- 4. Deregulated the nation’s economy. It’s not sexy. But Trump promised to cut two regulations for every new one proposed. He beat even that estimate, cutting eight regulations for every one added. If you think that doesn’t matter, consider this: Regulations currently cost the economy nearly $2 trillion a year, or about $14,000 a year for every U.S. household. Trump’s rule-cutting saved the average American household an average of $3,100 a year.
- 5. Got rid of Obamacare’s “individual mandate”. By far the most odious element of Obama’s first step toward socialized medicine was its requirement that all Americans must buy health insurance. For the first time ever, the U.S. government forced its citizens to purchase something, whether they wanted it or not. This part of the 2010 bill was clearly unconstitutional, as a federal appeals court ruled late last year. Americans are, for now, safe from being forced to buy insurance policies they don’t want. At least, that is, until the new Democratic administration begins its push for Medicare for All, or some other nationalized health care scheme.
- 6. Restored Supreme Court balance. By naming three new justices, Trump assured Americans that the court’s days of rulings based on politics and ideology, not the Constitution, are over. At least for the foreseeable future. Trump’s three Supreme Court nominees, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, are all strong constitutionalists who have sterling reputations for fairness and non-political legal decision making. “A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers,” Barrett said during her nomination hearings in the Senate, a fitting description for all Trump’s choices. That includes the more than 230 judges he appointed to the federal bench.
- 7. Forced NATO to reform. Trump pushed NATO members to live up to their commitments to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense, part of a 2014 deal that came after years of NATO countries shirking their duty to pull their own weight in the military alliance. In Trump’s first year in office, just four of the 30 NATO members met the 2% floor. Today, 10 do, and more will increase spending by $400 billion by 2024. By demanding NATO to keep its promises, Trump likely saved the West’s main military alliance.
- 8. Encouraged U.S. energy independence. By encouraging fracking and approving the Keystone XL pipeline, Trump set off an energy boom. And he did something that no one thought possible just four years ago: He made the U.S. energy independent for the first time in 70 years, meaning we would no longer be held hostage to unstable petro-powers and the vagaries of foreign energy supplies. Fracking enabled the U.S. to boost its output of natural gas, with many major utilities now using the cheap, clean source of energy instead of coal and other major sources of carbon dioxide emissions. The result: the U.S. is one of the only major countries whose CO2 emissions are plunging, with output now at the lowest levels since 1985.
- 9. Reformed immigration and built the border wall. Despite being called a “racist” and “fascist” and “anti-immigrant,” Trump has now built more than 450 miles of wall to restore control of our nation’s borders against illegal entrants into the U.S., including gang members, smugglers and drug dealers. As journalist Deroy Murdock recently noted, “federal apprehensions and encounters on the U.S.-Mexico border have plunged from 977,509 in fiscal year 2019 to 458,088 in fiscal year 2020 — down 53.1%.” A blow to Mexico? Not according to a recent Reuters headline: “Mexico’s Lopez Obrador says Trump helped Mexico.“
- 10. Withdrew from the Paris Climate Deal. The U.S. is the only major country actually living up to the Paris Climate Accords’ steep cuts in CO2 emissions. But the deal is still a bad one, since it commits the U.S. and other major industrial nations to shrink their economies over the long run to meet arbitrary CO2 limits in the future. Meanwhile, fast-growing countries such as China and India have few binding requirements on their emissions. The result: Those two countries, with more than a third of the world’s population, continue to spew CO2. This year China’s coal use surged above 2015 levels, “undercutting climate pledges,” according to a news report out this week. Biden’s plan to rejoin the Paris deal will only bolster China and hamstring the U.S. going forward. It’s a climate-based “America last” policy.
We could add much more to this list. But these were exceptional advances, and showed how productive and imaginative Trump has been in reshaping American life as president. As columnist, thinker, educator and rabbi Dennis Prager recently wrote, Trump “has not only surpassed many of our expectations but also thus far governed in a manner more consistent with conservative principles than any president since Ronald Reagan, and arguably Calvin Coolidge.“
For the new president, a friendly word of advice: Your success or failure in the first year of your term will largely depend on how many of Trump’s successes you let stand, and how many you try to undo.
Looking over this long list of accomplishments over the past four years, it’s hard to argue with that. Whether Trump re-emerges as a political force in the GOP, there is no question: In his brief time in office, he was one of the most effective presidents in history. As he leaves we can only say Godspeed and good luck, Mr. President.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board