The Trump Administration’s Accomplishments List in 2018 Was Already Weak, the Past Two Years Have Only Made it Weaker

President Trump’s 2018 Accomplishments List

In September of 2018 President Trump’s administration published an accomplishments list that summarized his greatest feats thus far. When the list initially came out, critics claimed that many of the achievements couldn’t be attributed to President Trump or his administration. Others alleged that a number of the claims on the list were actually some of his greatest failures and mistakes as president. Of course, the fact-checkers quickly went to work. Despite entering office with very little political capital or procedural understandings, President Trump eventually developed a more effective staff that was able to make some key changes regarding taxes, foreign policy, and government regulations.

Even though heavy criticism abounds, President Trump’s staff, colleagues, and supporters have rallied behind his published list of achievements as glowing evidence of all of the good he is doing for Americans. Unfortunately, for whatever reasons, these people don’t seem to be critical of their president, or themselves, as much as everyone should be.

President Obama was far from perfect, and many of us on the so-called “left” criticized him for his immigration policies and use of drone strikes. If we can be critical of our own, why do Republicans as of late shy away from such reflection?

Although the Trump administration and his supporters have tried to dismiss the economic crisis as collateral damage from the pandemic, he is undeniably partially responsible. The rhetoric of the right deflects away from such realities, even though Trump’s “strong economy” was and is part of the foundation of his presidential campaign and platform.

We cannot disregard the economic achievements and failures of the Trump administration because they affect every U.S. citizen. Also, if we did simply ignore those items, we wouldn’t get to talk about the gems hidden away in the list. For instance, these:

  • “Median household income has hit highest level ever recorded.”

That isn’t necessarily a good thing, as higher and higher medians of income tend to mean a growing wealth gap, i.e. greater wealth inequality. Oddly enough, wealth inequality in the U.S. has only gotten worse since the publication of this list, as CEOs like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos or Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have greatly increased their wealth during the pandemic.

The wealth gap within the United States has continued to grow along racial lines.

For an already relatively short list, many of the bullet points that make up the Trump administration’s achievements are specifically separated in order to seem more important. For instance, rather than having six bullet points regarding unemployment rates, that could have been worded differently to group similar results.

Other listed achievements would simply be classified as failures or mistakes by academics, activists, and civil rights experts.

  • “Opened ANWR and approved Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines.”

Like approving the final phase of an oil pipeline project that has garnered international attention for the consistent opposition from environmental activists. Such opposition began in 2008 when activists mounted pressure on then-President Obama to free America from oil dependence. Twelve years later, the Trump administration has done virtually nothing to tackle the looming climate catastrophe. Indeed, the actions his administration has taken are largely detrimental to the environment.

  • “Record number of regulations eliminated.”

Again, this is not necessarily a good thing. The Industrial Revolution taught us that regulations were largely necessary to hinder the exploitation that economic greed would otherwise force onto laborers. Regulations initially gave us the 40-hour work week, overtime pay, safety laws, child labor laws, and many other safeguards and protections that ensure a quality work environment.

Over the course of history we also created regulations to prevent businesses from polluting or destroying the surrounding environment or communities near which they operate. These are not examples of the real bureaucratic red tape that does need to be slashed, but of key regulations that safeguard our environment and natural resources.

The progress of the Trump’s administration deregulation changes can be tracked here.

  • “Increased our coal exports by 60 percent; U.S. oil production recently reached all-time high.”

Yet again, another economic policy that enriches his friends and does nothing to address the climate crisis. The same can be said for the following as well:

  • “Withdrew the United States from the job-killing Paris Climate Accord.”
  • “Cancelled the illegal, anti-coal, so-called Clean Power Plan.”
From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

On top of increasing our reliance on and production of fossil fuels, the Trump administration also contributed significantly to the ever-growing military-industrial complex.

  • “Secured record $700 billion in military funding; $716 billion next year.”

The United States’ military spending is already absolutely excessive and riddled with questionable contracts and spending practices.

  • “Issued Executive Order to keep open Guantanamo Bay.”

Which has been proven to be a site for illegal torture activities at the hands of U.S. agents and agencies.

  • “Process has begun to make the Space Force the 6th branch of the Armed Forces.”

There is already an entire Netflix series starring Steve Carell and John Malkovich dedicated to addressing this achievement in particular.

Two Years Later, the List is Weaker than Ever

Now, in September of 2020, looking back on the Trump administration’s list of accomplishments is laughable. So far, over 180,000 Americans have lost their lives due to the coronavirus pandemic, largely as a result of the denial, inaction, and arrogance of President Trump and his administration.

In September of 2019, funding ran out for an epidemiological research initiative called PREDICT, which was launched in 2009. The program, funded by a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) grant, was described as an early warning pandemic system. Leading expert Dr. Jonna Mazet, veterinarian, epidemiologist, and professor at the University of California, Davis, was the global director of PREDICT for a decade. Her goal was “to prevent or contain the next outbreak of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or other emerging diseases.”

Unfortunately, when the funding ran out in September of 2019, it was never renewed on a long-term basis, and the Trump administration eventually ended the program about two months before the novel coronavirus made its advance in Wuhan, China. Although the Trump administration eventually allocated about $2.1 million to authorize its continued work for a six month period, it was simply too little too late for a program focused on prediction and prevention.

Apart from this grave mistake that hindered the world’s ability to detect the new coronavirus faster, the president also consistently downplayed the pandemic in the early months of 2020 and continues to make false and misleading statements about the virus. Indeed, the inaction of his administration has been so heavily criticized that some have even created a timeline of his failures.

The timeline is especially telling when compared side-by-side with a “fact sheet” published by the White House in early August of 2020, that detailed “President Trump’s Historic Coronavirus Response.” Unfortunately, this “fact sheet” of the president’s response to the pandemic is largely devoid of dates, for good reason. The majority of the American public also believes that President Trump’s initial responses to the pandemic was much too slow and ineffectual.

Some Trump supporters have tried to feebly claim that if we just “disregard the economic stuff,” (unfairly the result of the coronavirus of course) then the achievements list is still great and worthy of reelecting Trump for another four years.

However, the problem with that logic is at least two-fold. First, we cannot just “disregard the economic stuff” when that is literally the mechanism that our civilization operates on. Second, even if we did, for the sake of argument, disregard the Trump administration’s public health and economic failures, the rest of the list still does not hold up to scrutiny, nor does the remainder of his term.

Sadly, it seems that partisan rhetoric will win the day for the majorities on both sides of the political spectrum. According to the Pew Research Center, as of April 2020, a sizable majority of Republicans and Democrats viewed the partisan divide as increasing.

Five months later, we have seen continued international protests, a deepened economic crisis, and a widespread increase of violent extremism online and in the form of vigilante killings, property damage, dog-whistles and dangerous political rhetoric.

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