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Trump’s first term: hits and misses

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President Donald Trump. (AFP/File / Jim WATSON)

“Promises made, promises kept,” goes one of President Donald Trump’s main 2020 reelection slogans. Is that true?

Here are some of the key policy hits and misses — comparing his accomplishments to his promises — from a tumultuous first term.

– HITS –

Economy:

The economy will be Trump’s major selling point.

GDP grew 3.1 percent in the first quarter of 2019 and the last recession was a decade ago. Unemployment is at a 50-year low of 3.6 percent.

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Trump’s frequent claim that the economy is probably “the best” in US history is an exaggeration, though.

Economists see growing dangers, including exploding government debt and growing backlash from Trump’s aggressive trade policies, especially with China.

Courts:

Trump promised to get large numbers of conservative federal judges appointed. He has succeeded.

Notably, he used the Republican majority in the Senate to put conservative justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, likely tilting the constitutional decision-making body to the right for decades.

Foreign policy:

Trump delivered on his promise of a foreign policy shake-up.

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Whether this has made America “respected” around the world, as he frequently claims, is debatable. The level of disruption is not.

Trump pulled the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. He likewise withdrew from an international agreement rewarding Iran for allowing controls over its nuclear program.

To the dismay of scientists around the world, he ended US participation in the historic Paris climate agreement meant to mitigate global climate change.

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He also made good on threats to play hardball with China on trade, demanded more financial help from NATO allies, and renegotiated the NAFTA trade pact with Mexico and Canada. He has tried, unsuccessfully so far, to charm North Korea into abandoning nuclear weapons.

With another swing of his diplomatic wrecking ball, Trump ended the decades-old status quo by recognizing the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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– MISSES –

Healthcare:

At home, Trump failed on one of his biggest To Do items: repealing former president Barack Obama’s healthcare law known as Obamacare.

The law, which seeks to get millions of uninsured Americans into the US healthcare system, is a bogeyman for right-wingers, but is generally popular among the public.

More importantly, Republicans have failed to come up with a credible alternative plan.

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The wall:

Another Trump campaign vow was to wall off the US-Mexico border against what the president calls an immigrant invasion. Mexico was meant to pay the bill.

That hasn’t happened.

Trump resorted to a record-length 35-day shutdown of US government funding in an attempt to pressure Congress into giving him funds for wall construction, finally getting a meager $1.7 billion.

This month, he used the threat of another trade war to pressure Mexico into doing more to stop migrants as they cross northward from Central America.

Midterm elections:

Trump wasn’t on the ballot as Americans voted in congressional midterm elections in November. But the vote was still partly a referendum on the divisive president, who campaigned heavily across the nation. His Republican Party got thumped.

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Although Republicans increased what had been a razor-thin majority in the Senate, they lost the House of Representatives. This means Democrats finally have a meaningful way to oppose Trump, including through the use of investigative committees.

 


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2020 Election

REVEALED: Far-right extremists are circulating plans to lock down Arizona streets if Trump is re-elected

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On Saturday, The Arizona Republic reported that far-right paramilitary groups are circulating plans to lock down neighborhoods in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area in the event that President Donald Trump is re-elected, supposedly to police left-wing protesters.

"In Arizona, the head of the Prescott-area chapter of the Oath Keepers group, which recruits military and law enforcement officers, has warned residents to be prepared to protect their neighborhoods from feared extreme left-wing protesters who would be upset should President Donald Trump be re-elected," reported Richard Ruelas. "Part of that the pro-Trump group'splan involved closing streets and assigning monitors to control access, according to a planning document shared with The Republic."

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2020 Election

America’s crimes against humanity aren’t on the ballot this year — but they should be

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The 2020 presidential election is a life-and-death decision for thousands of people vulnerable to COVID-19, for a globe under the assault from the climate crisis, and for the future of American democracy. And yet for all the urgency, the political campaign still suffers under the weight and stench of bullshit.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Philosopher Harry Frankfurt warns in his bestselling pamphlet "On Bullshit" that "bullshit" is more injurious than the blatant lie. One reason among many is that bullshit blurs the line between reality and fiction, offering a manipulative incorporation of truth to strengthen its own capacity to persuade. Absolute falsity, in contrast, is obvious to anyone with minimal awareness of the facts. When the Trump administration recently declared that one of its grand achievements was "ending the pandemic," most people laughed in disbelief. This is a lie fit for consumption only from inhabitants of a collective similar to the Rev. Jim Jones' notorious People's Temple settlement in Guyana.

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2020 Election

Conservatives are hopping mad that their clumsy Hunter Biden smear is a flop

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

In 2016, Steve Bannon did an amazing job rolling out the Clinton Foundation nontroversy. He gave The New York Times and CNN early access to Peter Schweizer's book, Clinton Cash, and the outlets gave it mainstream credibility. Later, when the Uranium One story was thoroughly debunked, it didn't matter. The foundation remained under a pall of fuzzy suspicions.

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