His supporters say he has accomplished more than any other president. Just what has he accomplished?
Whenever I write anything the least bit critical of our President, I inevitably receive bitter responses from his supporters taking one of two approaches.
The first is to attack me personally. After all, I am just a liberal college professor (I teach business management, by the way) from California (I’m from Michigan) who is obsessed with Trump. Regarding the third accusation, if being upset about what Trump has done to our country counts as an obsession, maybe I’m guilty of that one.
The second approach is to argue that “Trump has done more for this country than any other president.” That refrain is a common one among his supporters, and it begs the question, just what has Trump supported?
In the interest of fairness, then, let’s look at Trump’s accomplishments and give him a grade for his effectiveness.
- Trade deficit at its worst since George W. Bush was President. Trump loves to blame Obama for his problems, and he loves to claim that he is a much better President than his predecessor. Perhaps Trump’s signature issue, other than his racism, is trade. Here, Trump has been an unqualified failure. According to the Federal Reserve, the U.S. trade deficit under Trump is the worst it’s ever been — except for when George W. Bush was President. Yes that’s right, worse than under Obama, worse than under Clinton, worse than anyone except for Bush.
- Worse federal budget deficit ever. Trump famously promised to eliminate the federal budget deficit. Oh well. In February 2019, the Federal Reserve reported the largest deficit in over fifty years at $233 billion. And that’s before the coronavirus crisis.
- Massive tax cut to the ultra-wealthy. According to that liberal rag Forbes, in 2018, thanks to Trump’s tax cut, for the first time in history, the 400 wealthiest people paid a lower tax rate than any other group. This point leads directly to my next point…
- Massive wealth inequality. According to the Pew Research Center, income inequality has reached an all-time high. In fact, for the first time in over fifty years, the top fifth wealthiest families in the country earned over fifty percent of the national income, and the group who suffered most as a result were the so-called middle class. What’s more, among developed countries, we have the highest level of inequality, and our inter-generational income mobility, in other words the ability of kids to do better than their parents did, is among the three worst in the world. So much for the American dream.
- Immigration rate continued to increase. Trump’s other signature issue is likely immigration. Well here too, his policies have proven a failure. According to the Pew Research Center, the immigrant share of the U.S. population has reached an all-time high. This despite the wholesale cruelty of this administration with its child separation policy, concentration camps for immigrants that have become hotbeds of coronavirus, and taking billions from the military to build his unauthorized border wall.
- American prestige at an all time low. According to a 25 nation survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, the world views us more negatively than ever before. In fact, opinion in our closest ally, Canada, has reached an all time low. To make matters worst, most of the world thinks the U.S. is in decline and China is on the rise. These numbers, by the way, are a significant change from the results of similar surveys while Obama was President.
- Even before the current crisis, the American economy was just so-so. Despite his claims to the “greatest economy in the history of our country,” actual economic data indicate that his economic performance is just a continuation of Obama’s. More jobs were created in the 31 final full months of Obama’s presidency (6.91 million) than during the 31 first full months of Trump’s presidency (5.85 million). Economic growth has continued at about the same pace as during the Obama administration, and median household income growth has actually slowed. And that’s all before our economy essentially entered a depression.
I know, I know. This list is incomplete. It says nothing about his lies, about his mishandling of the coronavirus crisis, his abandoning our allies in Syria, his praising white supremacists and Charlottesville, his attacks on healthcare, his corruption, his revolving-door administration, etc... I wanted to directly address the claims of his supporters with objective facts from reliable sources.
One area where Trump can point to an accomplishment is in his many judicial appointments. For that, however, I would argue that he can really thank Mitch McConnell. I would also argue that he has so politicized our judiciary that, in the long term, its credibility is destroyed.
I do know that none of this matters. Although political scientists, including Republicans, consider his administration among the worst in history, his supporters don’t care. I have written about this phenomenon before, but at a minimum, we should not accept the criticism that Trump has done more than any other president in history. Even if that is the case, given the results I’ve detailed, are those accomplishments anything to brag about?