When Donald Trump ran for president in 2016, he made several promises, as politicians always do. But, unlike so many politicians, he has fulfilled most of those promises, especially the more important ones.
He said he would appoint conservative judges to the federal bench. In three years he has appointed 187 judges while President Obama appointed only 329 judges in his two full terms. Even more important, Trump has already appointed nearly as many circuit court judges (50) as Obama did during his whole presidency (56). Fully one-quarter of all appeals court judges are Trump appointees. As such, the federal judiciary is far more conservative today than it was three years ago.
Trump said he would make the American economy roar again. And he did, thanks in part to the tax cuts he got through Congress. These tax cuts put more money in almost everyone’s pocket. It made American corporations far more competitive with their foreign rivals by bringing the American corporate tax code in line with those of other nations. This necessary reform invited those foreign corporations to invest in this United States, and they have. Indeed, the American economy is roaring as it hasn’t since the 1960s.
Every Democrat running for the presidency in 2020 has pledged to reverse these tax reforms.
Trump said that he would reverse the ever-growing pile of federal regulations. He has done that. The Federal Register is now actually shorter than it was in 2016–an unprecedented event in the history of bureaucracy. According to the former chief economist of the Council of Economic Advisers, “the CEA report estimates that over the next five to 10 years, the deregulatory efforts of the Trump administration will increase real annual incomes in the United States by $3,100 per household.” And this income, the result of lower costs, is non-taxable. It’s pure bottom line.
Many of the now-deleted regulations had been implemented at the behest of rent-seeking special interests—major corporations, tort lawyers, unions. Democrats have a habit of railing against special interests without actually naming them, but these are some of the party’s most cherished constituencies. Quietly, Democrats would cater to them in exchange for campaign cash. The small businessmen and professionals who were disadvantaged by these unnecessary, often pernicious, regulations have doubtless taken notice.
Trump said he would increase the spendable income of those at the lower end of the economic spectrum. The Democratic field of presidential candidates has endlessly repeated the assertion that, while the economy is humming, it is only working for the rich, not the ordinary guy. Michael Bloomberg (net worth $58 billion) said recently that, “The U.S. economy is working just fine for people like me. It really is. But it is badly broken for the vast majority of Americans.” While it is certainly working for the billionaires (when is it not?), it is also working for the ordinary guy as it hasn’t in years. Wages have been increasing far faster at the bottom of the economic ladder than at the top.
While wages climbed 3.6 percent in the year that followed November 2018, well above inflation, they were up 4.5 percent for the bottom 25 percent of wage earners. By contrast, wages rose by only 2.5 percent for those in the top 25 percent. Black and Hispanic unemployment are at the lowest rates on record. That is doubtless not unconnected with the fact that Trump’s approval rating with blacks and Hispanics has been rising during his presidency, a fact that should make the Democratic Party very afraid.
The Dow-Jones Industrial Average is up 52.9 percent in the three years and two months since Trump’s election. That has, to be sure, greatly increased the inequality in the net worth of the billionaires vis-à-vis the vast majority of Americans. But that has also greatly increased the net worth of the tens of millions who hold 401(k) and IRA accounts. A booming stock market promises more secure retirements for the tens of millions who are vested in pension funds and have annuity accounts. I suspect these tens of millions care a lot more about their own net worth than the net worth of the billionaires over whom Democratic presidential candidates obsess.
Thanks to fracking, which has revolutionized both world energy markets and the geopolitics of energy, national CO2 emissions declined another 2 percent in 2019 as coal use declined by yet another 10 percent. Many of the top tier Democratic candidates have pledged to ban fracking. They evidently prefer to lower carbon emissions by inhibiting the American economy.
Donald Trump is vulgar, mendacious, ungentlemanly, and possesses at least half a dozen other undesirable character traits. He has also kept his political promises, an uncommon political trait, and thereby made life better for the majority of Americans.
In 1980, Ronald Reagan won a huge victory over Jimmy Carter (who carried fewer states than Herbert Hoover in 1932) by simply asking, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”
Donald Trump might well ask, with characteristic braggadocio, “Is there any way that you are NOT better off than you were four years ago?”