President Trump has convinced many of his followers and even some in the mainstream media that “at least” he has kept his promises. This is true on only one issue — appointing conservative judges (although the judges haven’t actually demonstrated they are going to fulfill evangelicals’ wish list). And if by his mean, xenophobic and racist language during the campaign, his followers took him to be promising to be the most racist president in modern history, I guess he remained true to his base.
But the stack of broken promises has grown higher and higher. His promised border wall really hasn’t been built yet and won’t be paid for by Mexico. The conservative Washington Examiner recently reported that “his administration has not built any new sections of border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, completing only the replacement of dilapidated existing sections.” There was arguably no more important issue to his core supporters.
He had no fabulous alternative to the Affordable Care Act, as he assured voters. He favored Republican plans that would have cut entitlements, contrary to his vow not to. His trade war didn’t produce fast, positive results as he claimed. He didn’t reduce or eliminate the debt. To the contrary, The Post reports, “America’s federal deficit will expand by about $800 billion more than previously expected over 10 years due primarily to two legislative packages approved this year, pushing the nation further into levels of debt unseen since the end of World War II, the Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.” As for “winning” internationally and earning more respect he has embarrassed himself repeatedly, undercut respect for the United States, given unimaginable PR to dictators and refused even to protect the country against Russian interference in our elections.
The most serious commitment he made, since he’s such a successful businessman and all, was to bring on an economic boom beyond what his predecessor accomplished, especially for the “forgotten men and women.”
But even before we get to worrying new economic data, Trump has failed to fulfill his basic pledge to do better than President Barack Obama. With 15 charts to document the economic progress, The Post recently reported, “Government debt and the trade deficit are climbing (while most economists don’t worry about the rising trade deficit, Trump made it a central part of his 2016 election campaign), and business investment is faltering as corporate leaders say they are wary of Trump’s trade war. The number of Americans lacking health insurance is also ticking up slightly.” In addition, on stocks and jobs, about which Trump constantly brags, “there is a case to be made that those looked better under Obama, although most economists expected job gains to slow now that the economic recovery is a decade old.”
Recent reports only strengthen the argument against Trump’s “promises made, promises kept” hooey. He promised to protect steel, coal and manufacturing more generally. Our domestic steel industry, even with protective tariffs, is collapsing. CBS News reports, “U.S. Steel said it is laying off about 200 workers at a Michigan factory, citing a ‘multitude of factors’ including demand, import volume and lower steel prices.” These cuts could continue for more than six months. Moreover, “The layoffs come after U.S. Steel said in June it planned to idle two furnaces, at Michigan’s Great Lakes Works plant and Gary Works in Indiana, where it doesn’t expect any layoffs.”
What about coal? A local Wyoming station last month reported, “The city of Gillette, Wyoming was rocked by nearly 600 layoffs on July 1 when a major employer shut down two local coal mines.” They have been forgotten, it seems: “Coal mining, and the businesses that support it, are the heart of the Gillette area economy. Those losses, shake the very foundation of the city’s well being.” The coal industry is cratering:
As coal-fired power plants become increasingly unsustainable in the face of the growing savings from alternatives energy sources like solar and natural gas, plant operators have been quickly shutting down the smaller and most inefficient coal-burning plants in an effort to shift resources to larger, more profitable plants that contribute to the overwhelming bulk of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Now, a new report in Scientific American reveals the extent to which even these larger plants are becoming loss-leaders for coal plant operators and are having to be shut down.
And as of May, investment in coal was down 75 percent from 2015.
Manufacturing is slipping overall as well. Bloomberg recently reported, “Trump faces U.S. manufacturing output declining in consecutive quarters, the common definition of recession within the industry, the result of global weakness and a trade war between the U.S. and China. … [H]iring momentum in the sector has started to fade. In the six months through July, 38,000 jobs have been added at factories, the fewest for a similar period since January 2017, when Trump took office.” Worse, “the Fed’s latest industrial production report last month showed U.S. factory output declined at a 2.2% annualized pace in the second quarter after a 1.9% rate of decline in the previous three months. Within specific industry groups, metals, machinery, textiles, paper and petroleum and coal were among those that experienced outright production downturns during both quarters.”
The narrative that Trump has kept faith with his base is false. Democrats would do well to focus on pointing this out.