Trump's year-end record actually speaks for itself


By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift

Saturday, December 30, 2017

WASHINGTON – There is no shortage of hyperbole in the yearend assessments of Donald Trump’s presidency. Yet, hyperbole – positive or negative – is superfluous. His record speaks for itself.

What follows is a list of the president’s most notable accomplishments. We leave it to the reader to judge whether these are making America great again.

First, he unilaterally took the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). President Obama had pivoted to the Pacific, militarily and economically to curb China’s hegemony over Asia, and the TPP was the economic arm of that strategy. Today, many of the Pacific Rim nations that were part of that treaty have now entered free-trade agreements with China. The military part of the calculus remains, minus the economic undergirding that supports it.

Second, in a nod to climate change deniers, the Paris climate accord: By taking America out of the deal, the only major nation not to participate, a green light has been given to the two biggest violators, China and India, to cash in on cheap energy without fear or favor.

Third, the tax cut deserves special mention. The numbers tell the story. Signed into law right before Christmas, it is unpopular with the American people, a record in itself. Whoever heard of an unpopular tax cut! Unless it is a tax cut primarily for the benefit of the donor class on a macro basis and real estate moguls on a micro basis. Middle-class taxpayers may get a tiny benefit in their paychecks, but thanks to a provision known as the real-estate pass through, certain prominent people with major real estate holdings like Trump and Tennessee Republican Bob Corker, a key vote in the Senate, will be among the law’s primary beneficiaries. Trump acknowledged as much, telling wealthy guests at his Florida resort over the holiday that they – not he – just got richer.

Fourth, dismantling Obamacare piece by piece. President Obama was the first to say his signature achievement wasn’t perfect, but what the Trump coalition inserted into the new tax law – ending the individual mandate – will leave 13 million people without health insurance, increase government subsidies for those buying plans on the Obamacare exchanges, and drive up premiums for everyone.

Fifth, his tweets. They speak for themselves and for the nation in the eyes of the world.

Six, the stock market. It is soaring, and surely the president will give credit where credit is due to former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who understood Keynesian economics and pumped massive amounts of money into the economy to rescue the country from the worst recession since the Great Depression. A Republican appointed by President G.W. Bush, President Obama kept him on.

Seven, refusing to bow to calls for moral leadership, Trump refused to criticize the ultra-nationalists, white supremacists and Ku Klux Klan marchers in Charlottesville, Virginia in August, saying there are “good people on both sides.” Further, he endorsed Roy Moore, an alleged child molester, in the Alabama special Senate race.

Eight, firing FBI Director James Comey became a defining moment that led directly to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, including financial ties between Trump’s family and multitudinous business enterprises and Russian oligarchs.

Nine, actually a corollary to Eight, is the president’s noticeable and loyal refusal to condemn any action by Russia’s autocrat, Vladimir Putin.

Without comment, these actions speak for themselves.

U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.