The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency is nearing an end. In many respects, the Trump presidency so far has been disappointing for conservatives. Obamacare remains the law of the land. The Republican plans for tax reform are confusing, to say the least. Other key promises made to conservatives, like the construction of a border wall, remain unfulfilled.
It seems that since the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and Trump’s other excellent choices for the federal judiciary, the conservative agenda is otherwise stalled under this administration. But if we look a little harder, President Trump has done much that conservatives can be thankful for.
Here are a few of the promises kept that you can thank President Trump for:
1. Cutting regulations
As of October, President Trump was on pace to outdo Ronald Reagan in cutting regulations. The Competitive Enterprise Institute has said Trump’s administration has issued 58 percent fewer regulations than former President Obama and decreased the size of the Federal Register by a whopping 32 percent. According to the America Action Forum, the Trump administration has saved $560 million by cutting regulations and keeping its promise to kill two regulations for every new one.
Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress and the president have worked together to kill 14 burdensome Obama-era regulations.
2. Defeating ISIS
It cannot be denied that in the nine months since President Trump took office, ISIS has been on the run in the Middle East. The Islamic State capital in Raqqa, Syria, was liberated by U.S.-backed Syrian forces in October. ISIS fighters are surrendering in droves. In 2014, ISIS controlled around 34,000 square miles of terrorist in Iraq and Syria. As of November, ISIS had lost its last foothold in Iraq.
Obviously, Trump did not single-handedly chase ISIS out of Iraq. But the president’s administration loosened the rules of engagement and eased restrictions on U.S. military forces. In October, Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis told Congress that restrictions on U.S. airpower were removed and the number of U.S. advisers sent to aid local foreign troops was increased. The results of the Trump administration’s leadership speak for themselves.
3. Pulling out of the Paris climate accord
Over the summer, President Trump kept a key promise when he announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The international deal was essentially a treaty that President Obama refused to submit to Congress because it wouldn’t have been ratified by the Republican majority in the Senate.
In a speech announcing his decision, President Trump characterized the deal as a “major, self-inflicted economic wound.” He rightly criticized the deal as a job-killer that would harm the U.S. economy while “imposing no meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters.”
“It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, along with many, many other locations within our great country, before Paris, France,” the president said.
4. Putting America first at the U.N.
President Trump’s Reaganesque speech to the United Nations in September represented a stark change in tone from the failed leadership of President Obama. Before the representatives from every major ally and enemy of the United States, Trump named our threats, declaring, “we will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation and, indeed, to tear up the entire world.”
The president strongly condemned the “depraved regime” in North Korea and reminded everyone in the world that the United States possesses the power to “totally destroy North Korea” or any other nuclear aggressor. He also ripped into the “murderous regime” in Iran, calling it a “corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of democracy.”
Further, President Trump stood up for freedom by decrying the failures of socialism everywhere in the world, to the chagrin of the socialists in the United Nations.
“America stands with every person living under a brutal regime. Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action. All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their well-being, including their prosperity,” the president said. This moment was the clearest signal sent around the world that the days of President Obama’s weakness are over.
5. Exposing Congress
Perhaps the most significant thing President Trump has accomplished is not an accomplishment at all. Rather, Trump’s non-ideological governance and his laissez-faire attitude toward Congress have shown the Republican majorities in the legislature to be incompetent and unwilling to lead boldly on conservative issues.
Despite the conservative aspects of President Trump’s campaign agenda, the president himself is not ideological. As president, he has not driven the legislative agenda through his bully pulpit, as other past presidents have. Instead, Trump favors cheering Congress on with passive-aggressive tweets. Some find fault with President Trump for not taking a more active role in achieving his agenda. But constitutionally, the advancement of legislation is the role of Congress.
As it ought to be, the responsibility for advancing conservative legislation has fallen squarely on Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the absence of direct leadership from the president. What the Republican majorities have done with this responsibility is revealing. There are not enough Republicans in office willing to cut spending. Republicans in Congress are unwilling to repeal Obamacare. Tax reform is barely scraping together enough votes together to pass, and the Republican plan is a far cry from the “largest tax cut in history.”
The fact of the matter is, President Trump will sign pretty much whatever Republicans put on his desk. Yet week after week, far too many Republicans prove they are unwilling to act on the promises made to conservative voters during election season.
What this should tell you is that any Republican president, not just Trump, would have difficulty advancing conservative legislation with this Congress. You can thank President Trump’s hands-off, “just send it to me and I’ll sign it” attitude for showing how far from conservative the GOP really is.
This one’s obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Donald Trump saved us all from President Hillary Rodham Clinton. ’Nuff said.
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Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.
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