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President Trump delivered on some big 2016 promises, but others unmet

President Donald Trump reacts after speaking to a crowd of supporters at Mankato Regional Airport, Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Mankato, Minn. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

It’s a theme that will play a major role in the upcoming Republican National Convention, as the president tries to convince a weary nation that he deserves a second term.

Posted: Aug 23, 2020 6:52 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — He’s broken his pledge never to take a vacation or play golf for pleasure. His plan to update the nation’s infrastructure has become a running punchline and he’s dropped his threat to throw Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl out of a plane without a parachute. But behind the drama, chaos and tumult that has defined President Donald Trump’s administration, the president has fulfilled a wide range of promises he made during his 2016 campaign.

It’s a theme that will play a major role in the upcoming Republican National Convention, as the president tries to convince a weary nation that he deserves a second term, even when millions of Americans have been infected by the coronavirus, the economy is in tatters and racial tensions are boiling over.

“I’m the only candidate that gave you more than I promised in the campaign. It’s true. I’m the only one ever, maybe ever,” Trump said at a rally in battleground Arizona last week.

Back in 2016, Trump was criticized for failing to release detailed policy plans akin to those of his rival, Hillary Clinton. What Trump did do was lay out a vision for a new America — one driven by a nationalist self-interest and disregard for Democratic norms.

In the years since, Trump has acted on that vision, making good on his nativist immigration rhetoric, tearing back regulations on business and transforming America’s role in the world by abandoning multilateral agreements and upending decades-old alliances, cheered on by many of his most loyal supporters and generating great alarm among his critics.

But will that matter when more than 175,000 Americans have died and more than 5.5 million have been infected by a virus that has hit the U.S. far harder than other industrialized nations?

“I think the golden egg of Trump’s reelection effort is going to be the promises kept, such as getting two Supreme Court justices in power and keeping America out of foreign wars like Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Douglas Brinkley, presidential historian at Rice University. “The problem he has is that his COVID response wasn’t on the ballot in 2016 and he’s gotten poor marks on how he’s handled the pandemic. So that’s put a wrinkle in his promises kept talking points.”

Arguably Trump's biggest impact has been on immigration.

While Mexico never did pay for the “big, beautiful wall” Trump pledged to build along the 2,000-mile southern border — the signature promise of his 2016 campaign — the project is now underway, with 450 miles expected to be completed by the end of December. (Only a sliver of that, however, has been built along stretches where no barrier stood before.) And Trump has succeeded in fundamentally transforming the nation’s immigration system, despite resistance from the courts and little cooperation from Congress.

Using more than 400 executive actions, according to a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, Trump has effectively shut down the asylum system at the southwest border and slashed refugee admissions. At the same time, Trump has imposed a slew of new restrictions on legal immigration, with the pandemic spurring many more. With so few visas being processed and immigration fees collected, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has all but run out of money and is about to furlough large swaths of its workforce.

Some specific promises on immigration went unfulfilled: Trump failed to create a new “deportation force,” never met his pledge to deport millions, didn’t end funding for sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate with immigration authorities and didn’t move to end the constitutional right to birthright citizenship. But he did clamp down on “catch and release" of immigrants in the country illegally, enhance background screening of migrants and move to suspend immigration from a host of majority-Muslim nations — an evolution of the Muslin ban he floated during his campaign.

“They have used the tools that the executive branch has on immigration really to their ultimate extent. And they’ve been successful,” said Doris Meissner, the director of the Migration Policy Institute's U.S. Immigration Policy Program and a former commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. “And you know, in many ways remarkably so because there’s been very stiff resistance all the way.”

In other areas, Trump’s record has been more mixed. On health care, Republicans in Congress did repeal the Obama-era individual mandate forcing people to buy health insurance, but he failed to replace the Affordable Care Act with an alternative, despite frequent promises to present his own plan.

On the economy, Trump and congressional Republicans pushed through a promised tax cut early in his term that dramatically slashed the corporate tax rate — as he had promised — and doubled the estate tax threshold, but did not eliminate it. He also did not meet his pledge to reduce the number of individual income tax brackets from seven to three to simplify the tax code, and efforts to bolster manufacturing jobs began to stall by his third year in office.

Trump had promised to boost economic growth to 3.5% per year on average. But he never surpassed 3% growth in any year, and progress on lowering unemployment has been annihilated by the pandemic, which has ushered in the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Some of Trump's more controversial promises have fallen by the wayside, such as his pledge to eliminate gun-free zones at schools and on military bases and to establish a national right to carry concealed weapons that would trump local restrictions. He has all but ignored the spiraling cost of college education and the plans he had proposed to make student loan repayment more affordable. He never made good on his pledge to push a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on members of Congress. And his pledge to embark on a massive $1 trillion effort to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, including airports, roads and bridges, has become a running punchline.

He also quickly abandoned his promise never to take a vacation while president, making frequent trips to his properties in Florida and New Jersey. And while he claimed he would only play golf with those who might help him govern and never with friends, he has now paid more than 270 visits to golf clubs since his inauguration, according to a website dedicated to tracking his visits. He is often photographed playing with pros.

But he delivered on other fronts. He immediately enacted a federal hiring freeze, as he had promised, and mandated that for every new federal regulation enacted, two be eliminated. He launched an aggressive campaign to roll back environmental protections passed by the Obama administration, including those that protected waterways, encouraged cleaner energy, reduced auto emissions and restricted offshore drilling and oil exploration on federal land. At the same time, he has prioritized tapping the country’s shale oil, and natural gas and coal reserves.

However, courts are undoing many of Trump's environmental rollbacks, calling them poorly reasoned and illegal.

On trade, Trump renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement and withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but failed to decrease the U.S.-China trade imbalance while starting a trade war with the country.

On the international front, the impact has been enormous as he has put his “America First” policy into practice, fundamentally redefining America’s place in the world. He increased funding for the military, joined the race to weaponize space, all but abandoned efforts to curb nuclear proliferation, and has threatened U.S. membership in the landmark alliances of the 20th century, including NATO.

At the same time, he has pulled the U.S. from participation in a host of landmark accords, including the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal (though he failed to bring Iran back to the negotiating table to broker a replacement deal, as he had pledged.) At international summits, he has cozied up to authoritarian leaders, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, while picking fights with longstanding allies like the U.K. and Canada.

In a sign of just how far he has broken from the global community, he stopped funding the World Health Organization in the midst of the pandemic earlier this year.

Jeremy Shapiro, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Trump has altered U.S. foreign policy in ways that go beyond what he outlined before taking office.

“I don't think he was really preparing people for the degree of revolution. He didn't say, ‘I don’t care about human rights' on the campaign trail. He didn’t say, ‘I don’t care about democracy.' He didn’t say, ‘I don’t care about alliances,'" Shapiro said.

While Trump complained the U.S. had gotten a raw deal in so many areas, he has failed, Shapiro argued, to negotiate improvements, aside from perhaps the new NAFTA.

“It's easy to destroy a deal. It's much harder to create a better one. And he hasn’t done that,” Shapiro said.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 145465

Reported Deaths: 2491
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin36126997
Ramsey14966377
Dakota10420139
Anoka9573156
Washington649074
Stearns647850
Scott366636
Olmsted344930
St. Louis333074
Wright282516
Clay259145
Nobles236818
Blue Earth21367
Carver19167
Sherburne189924
Kandiyohi18695
Rice174210
Mower155318
Winona136219
Crow Wing120822
Chisago11912
Benton109012
Lyon10446
Beltrami9839
Otter Tail9808
Waseca95010
Todd9337
Polk8845
Morrison8529
Steele8173
Itasca80617
Douglas8044
Nicollet78318
Freeborn7275
Goodhue68211
Le Sueur6716
Becker6654
Martin63718
McLeod6294
Isanti6196
Pine5960
Watonwan5854
Carlton5372
Chippewa4893
Mille Lacs47118
Hubbard4695
Cass4385
Wabasha4281
Dodge4200
Pipestone37217
Meeker3703
Rock3665
Brown3653
Roseau3650
Redwood31012
Yellow Medicine3096
Murray3023
Cottonwood2990
Renville28613
Fillmore2840
Wadena2743
Sibley2733
Faribault2580
Houston2492
Kanabec23610
Swift2322
Jackson2261
Pennington2221
Aitkin2142
Unassigned20354
Stevens2001
Lincoln1970
Koochiching1775
Pope1740
Big Stone1671
Marshall1611
Wilkin1484
Lac qui Parle1473
Clearwater1431
Norman1410
Lake1390
Mahnomen1342
Grant1094
Red Lake842
Traverse610
Kittson540
Lake of the Woods471
Cook200

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 124963

Reported Deaths: 1700
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk20019290
Woodbury753099
Linn6256134
Black Hawk6154102
Johnson610731
Dubuque563959
Scott501843
Story416418
Dallas364047
Pottawattamie343145
Sioux259517
Buena Vista231812
Marshall217136
Webster200915
Plymouth176731
Wapello161062
Clinton159028
Muscatine156058
Cerro Gordo154527
Des Moines153911
Crawford140015
Warren13477
Jasper124034
Carroll123113
Henry11495
Marion109211
Lee103412
Tama102138
Delaware84314
Dickinson8159
Wright7781
Boone7659
Mahaska75125
Bremer7459
Jackson7193
Harrison71217
Washington71212
Benton6782
Lyon5868
Clay5684
Louisa54915
Jones5374
Winnebago52719
Clayton5263
Winneshiek5259
Cedar5217
Hardin5187
Buchanan5155
Kossuth5020
Hamilton4945
Poweshiek49411
Floyd47211
Emmet46221
Cass4563
Iowa45610
Mills4403
Cherokee4342
Page4270
Fayette4224
Guthrie42115
Allamakee4189
Sac4174
Butler4163
Shelby4112
Franklin40118
Humboldt3833
Chickasaw3821
Hancock3796
Madison3783
Clarke3633
Grundy3526
Calhoun3374
Palo Alto3352
Osceola3100
Mitchell3021
Howard2889
Monroe27512
Union2725
Jefferson2671
Taylor2632
Appanoose2583
Monona2562
Pocahontas2532
Ida2312
Fremont2172
Lucas2146
Adair2041
Greene1990
Montgomery1977
Davis1954
Van Buren1942
Keokuk1901
Audubon1831
Decatur1700
Wayne1553
Worth1550
Ringgold1042
Adams841
Unassigned90
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