Christmas review: The promises Trump and Republicans kept — and the ones they didn’t

· December 21, 2018  
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Which campaign promises did President Donald Trump deliver for conservatives before Christmas 2018? At the end of 2017, the Republican majority and the president delivered on some of their promises, but failed to keep most of them. In 2018, sadly, Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives after spending the last year of their majority failing to do what they said they would do.

Let’s review the unfinished promises from 2017 and see what was kept:

1. Full repeal of Obamacare

Republicans did not fully repeal Obamacare in 2018, as was promised in 2010 and every election thereafter. After reducing the individual mandate tax penalty to zero in the 2017 tax bill, the Republican Congress did not act on health insurance reform, putting the burden on the Trump administration to enact changes to the law by executive order.

President Trump worked with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to develop regulations to expand access to association health plans, offering cheaper insurance plans for small businesses and collectives of people who band together to purchase health insurance. The administration also expanded the length of time Americans are permitted to purchase cheaper short-term health insurance plans to three years. However, these executive branch workarounds are not permanent solutions and can be reversed by a future Democratic president.

Several lawsuits have moved forward against Obamacare, and in December, a Texas federal judge declared the entire law unconstitutional based on the Republicans’ change to the individual mandate. That ruling is likely to be challenged, however, giving the Roberts Supreme Court another opportunity to save Obamacare next year.

President Trump and the Republicans have not kept their promise to fully repeal Obamacare yet.

2. Border security and the wall

President Trump’s border wall has not been fully funded by Congress, though parts of it were constructed in 2018. In a March spending bill, Congress authorized $641 million to be spent to build 33 miles of physical barriers in Southern Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Construction there will begin in February.

Congress also appropriated $292 million to the Department of Homeland Security to replace pre-existing “ineffective” fencing in Southern California, New Mexico, and western parts of Texas. But the Republican majority in Congress did not fund the full $25 billion requested by President Trump, unable to overcome Democratic opposition in the Senate.

There is an ongoing debate as the year ends over attaching $5 billion as a down payment for the wall in a spending bill needed to pass Congress by midnight tonight to keep the government fully open. President Trump says he will not sign a bill without wall funding, and Democrats refuse to vote for wall funding. The unfunded parts of government are likely to shut down, and Congress will need to negotiate wall funding in 2019 to open them back up.

For now, the wall is not built or fully funded.

3. Repeal Dodd-Frank

In June 2017, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the “Obamacare of financial markets” along party lines. The U.S. Senate killed the House bill, and Congress went back to the drawing board. In May 2018, Congress passed and President Trump signed a bipartisan agreement to roll back parts of the law, but it was not fully repealed.

Most disappointing, the unconstitutional Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was not eliminated. This is a promise half-kept and unlikely to be revisited in Trump’s first term.

4. Nominate a pro-life justice to the Supreme Court

President Trump kept this promise with the nomination of Justice Gorsuch in 2017, but in 2018 he had another opportunity to keep it by appointing a second pro-life justice. He chose Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The court with Kavanaugh has not yet taken up an abortion case, but it did reject one. Justice Kavanaugh cast the deciding vote to reject a case dealing with state funding for Planned Parenthood. Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s 2017 appointee, voted in favor of hearing the case.

Does that mean Trump failed to nominate a pro-life justice in Kavanaugh? It’s still too early to tell, but that decision by the court was a troubling sign.

5. Pain-capable abortion ban

In January, the United States Senate voted to end debate and advance a federal ban on abortions after 20 weeks of gestation, the point at which scientists believe an unborn baby can feel pain. The vote failed to reach the 60-vote threshold to overcome obstruction from Democrats, and Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, voted to block the bill as well.

Had Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., invoked the two-speech rule to overcome Democratic obstruction, the bill would have passed Congress and have been sent to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.

6. Defund Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood was not defunded in 2018, and in fact, congressional Republicans say they will give up attempts to defund the nation’s largest abortion provider in 2019 now that the Democrats have control of the House of Representatives. This is the most disappointing broken promise from Republicans under President Trump.

7. First Amendment Defense Act

A federal version of laws designed to protect religious liberty by preventing the government from penalizing Americans for affirming that marriage is only the union between a man and a woman was introduced by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, in the Senate and by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, in the House.

The president supports this legislation. “If Congress considers the First Amendment Defense Act a priority, then I will do all I can to make sure it comes to my desk for signatures and enactment,” Trump wrote in a letter in 2016.

Congress still hasn’t moved on it and likely won’t pass it with Democrats in control of the House.

8. Fixing the Fed

Congress did not pass or even vote on legislation to audit the Federal Reserve in 2018, despite efforts from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to push the issue. And despite President Donald Trump’s campaign preference for auditing the Fed and abandoning fiat currency for a gold standard, he has not championed the issue as president.

9. Tax reform

In 2017, President Trump signed a tax reform plan that, while short of a fundamental restructuring of the American tax system, gave most Americans a solid tax cut and gave American businesses a huge competitive edge. In 2018, the House of Representatives voted to make the tax cuts permanent. The Senate has not yet considered that legislation.

10. Scrap Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders (DACA to start)

In 2017 President Trump canceled Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty, but since then federal courts have undone Trump’s executive action. It is Congress’ responsibility to pass immigration reform that will undo Obama’s damage to the Constitution and put the courts in their place. Republicans must rein in the courts to keep this promise.

11. Repeal the EPA “Waters of the United States” rule 

The Trump administration began the formal process of repealing this tyrannical regulation permitting the government to seize control of puddles last year, and earlier this year the EPA rule was suspended. Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., lead an effort to permanently repeal the rule in June, but their bill was defeated in the Senate.

Trump’s administration is working to replace the rule, but a future Democratic president may be able to bring it back unless Congress ends it permanently.

12. National right to carry

President Trump was a strong advocate for the Second Amendment on the campaign trail. As president, he has not yet pushed for Congress to pass legislation guaranteeing concealed carry reciprocity nationwide.

Instead, Trump’s administration is advancing a sweeping gun control regulation to ban bump stocks, a gun accessory that uses recoil energy from semi-automatic rifles to increase the firearms’ rate of fire. Contrary to popular belief and lies from gun control advocates, bump stocks do not turn rifles into machine guns. Sean Davis, writing for The Federalist, warns that the Trump administration’s gun control effort “could eventually be used as a basis for a presidential administration unilaterally banning and confiscating all semi-automatic weapons.”

President Trump is not only breaking his promise to protect and advance the Second Amendment, his administration is working to undermine it.

In the remaining two years of Trump’s presidency, Democrats will control the House of Representatives, and President Trump and the Republican majority in the Senate will need to fight harder than ever to keep these promises ahead of the 2020 election. Conservatives must keep pressuring Congress and the president to fulfill their pledges to the American people.


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Author: Chris Pandolfo

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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