Ann McFeatters: How Trump delivered on his promises from 2016, and what it signals for a 2nd term

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President Donald Trump addresses supporters during his Make America Great Again Victory Rally at AV Flight at the Capital Region International Airport in Lansing, Michigan on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. - Todd McInturf/The Detroit News/TNS

We have never heard a serious answer from Donald Trump about his priorities for a second term except that having first called the White House a “dump,” he’s come to like living there and flying on Air Force One.

Republicans, also, refused to put out a platform for the next four years. But, hey, we easily can review how well Trump kept his promises in his first term as president.

Trump promised to bring manufacturing jobs back to U.S. shores and started a trade war with China, imposing higher tariffs to bring jobs back. Sadly, there is not a higher number of American-made widgets. The U.S. trade balance with China is higher than ever. A Federal Reserve study shows that the higher costs of importing Chinese parts cut manufacturing employment by 1.1%. When China retaliated with higher tariffs on U.S. goods, U.S. factory jobs dropped another 0.7%. That is a loss of thousands of jobs.

He promised that the coronavirus pandemic would “just disappear.” Seriously bad prognostication. The U.S. has the world’s highest number of infections of COVID-19 (500,000 new cases a week) and, heartbreakingly, the highest number of deaths. The virus, not testing, is filling U.S. hospitals.

Trump said he’d restore the failing coal industry. Nobody is building new houses or factories with coal chutes. The number of coal and fossil fuel industry jobs has declined by 17,300 since he took office.

He said he would build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. So far, there is less than 10 miles of new wall, although it is very nice, tall fencing. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol says that 371 miles have been reconstructed or shored up with 556,000 tons of steel and 797,000 tons of concrete. Unlike Trump’s promise, Mexico has not paid a penny. When Congress refused to fund his wall, Trump diverted $3.8 billion from the Pentagon budget. He plans to spend $15 billion for 700 miles. Stay tuned.

Trump promised to appoint many conservative judges who will rule against a woman’s right to choose, gay rights, voting rights, environmental cleanup spending and in favor of business interests. Promise kept! He has appointed 220 conservative judges, confirmed by a GOP-controlled Senate, and put three conservatives on the Supreme Court, ensuring anti-progressive court rulings for decades.

Trump promised to drain the swamp as he referred to the federal government. Unfortunately, he imported even more swamp creatures. He has presided over a record number of former campaign and administration officials either indicted, jailed or forced to resign because of corruption.

Trump promised to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which requires that health insurance companies provide coverage for preexisting conditions. In a show of serious purpose, with more than 70 congressional votes, he failed. But he asked the Supreme Court to rule the health care law unconstitutional; it will hear arguments Nov. 10.

Trump pledged to cut taxes on corporations. Congress did cut the top rate from 35% to 21%, but Trump did not keep his promise to close loopholes which mean some corporations still pay no federal taxes.

Trump said he would move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, abandon the Kurds and defund Palestinians. Success! He did all three, also derailing the Mideast peace process. Americans are still in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Trump promised to balance the budget. Unfortunately, he never defined “balance.” The national debt was $19.95 trillion when he took office on Jan. 20, 2017. It is now $27 trillion. In 2016, the annual federal deficit was $685 billion. This year the Congressional Budget Office predicts it will be $3.7 trillion.

Trump promised to reveal his tax returns. Ostensibly, because of history’s longest audit by the IRS, which is still wondering why it gave him a $79.3 million tax refund, Trump remains the only president in modern history whose tax returns we have not seen.

Closing arguments. Four thousand children separated from parents. Loss of American global prestige and power. The Republican Party flayed and left rotting.

North Korea’s pariah dictator boasting about his friendship with the American president. Russian influence growing. U.S. diplomatic alliances shredded. The federal workforce gutted or forced to do Trump’s political bidding. Roads, bridges and ports crumbling.

White supremacy praised by a president who sprays his skin brown.

The U.S. Postal Service unable to deliver ballots on time. Snow, rain and gloom of night may not stay mail couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds but Trump’s new postmaster general sure does.

Just over half the country believes with passion that Trump is the most xenophobic, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, anti-science, anti-press, authoritarian president in recent U.S. history. They are convinced he is incapable of empathy. They view him as having the character of an unapologetic con man who has enriched himself with millions at taxpayer expense while paying almost no federal taxes.

Every time Trump drinks glass of water at Mar-a-Lago, taxpayers pay $3.

If you approve of Trump’s first term, you undoubtedly are eager to embrace the havoc — and cost — of a second term.

If not? Take. Your. Country. Back. And, finally, we can talk about something besides You Know Who. Consider voting as a national dose of Alka-Seltzer.



Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at


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