“President Donald Trump’s campaign sued The Washington Post for defamation, citing two opinion articles published in 2019 about the campaign allegedly benefiting from Russian assistance.”

CNBC, 03/03/2020
caricature of Donald Trump created by DonkeyHotey

Trump is estranged from the truth, as we have seen with his reactions to the COVID-19 virus. That’s why his automatic reaction to anyone catching him in wrongdoing is so severe. His belief is that he can do no wrong, he’s “The Donald”. Even the COVID-19 virus was supposed to just magically go away by Easter, although he finally changed his mind after being told by experts that he could not bluff his way out of his statement. 

 Trump and I were raised very close to one another, with one big difference. I was in a prefab house in a hard hat, blue-collar area; he lived in a mansion. Trump was the spoiled, narcissistic, schoolyard bully that I saw so often and despised.  

Trump is still that school yard bully, still acting as though he personally took out the terrorist Al-Baghdadi. No surprise there. He has a history of taking credit for things he hasn’t done, trying to portray himself as a military “tough guy”, although he was a cowardly draft dodger who calls real heroes “losers and suckers”.  

Pre-pandemic, I received a letter from my good friend Donald J. Trump. It listed his quote “amazing accomplishments” (he’s not shy), including: 

  1.  “Passing the historic tax reform package that immediately paid huge dividends for millions of hard-working families.” 
  2. “Driving Down unemployment below 4% and creating more than six million new jobs.” 
  3. “Nominating and confirming…judges.” 
  4. “Replace(d) NAFTA with a new, better deal…” 
  5. Beginning to rebuild our military that the Obama administration gutted and standing up for American interests around the world.” 

Trump’s faults are obvious. He has denigrated the office of President, divided the nation into warring tribes, attempted to conspire with foreign nations to win elections, blocked witnesses from testifying before Congress, taken revenge on witnesses simply reporting his actions to superiors, threatened our allies, praised racists, interfered in the Department of Justice, pardoned political supporters, attacked the free press, failed to act quickly in in a rational, fact based, scientific manner on COVID-19, and so on. 

But what about his self-proclaimed accomplishments? Are they accurate and significant? Let’s review each one: 

  1. The NYT surveyed Americans in 2019 and only 40% said they benefited from the tax cut. In fact, 65% did get a cut. However, the cuts were disproportional, with the highest income taxpayers getting much more. Per Forbes (7-23-19): “The richest 1 percent received 9.3 percent of the total tax cuts, the top 5 percent got 26.5 percent, the top quintile received 52.2 percent and the bottom quintile got 3.3 percent.” Furthermore, these cuts resulted in much greater deficits (debt) with the national debt pre-pandemic going to over $1 trillion this year (and over $3 trillion with COVID spending), about double what it was in Obama’s last year in office. Interestingly, Trump declared in 2016 that he would pay off the deficit. 
  2. Unemployment (pre-pandemic) was down to 3.6%, but this was simply a continuation of a decade long trend started under Obama. Due to the Great Recession, unemployment hit 10% in 2009. It has been going down every year since, with unemployment already down to 5% when Trump took office. As for jobs, President Obama created 8.9 million jobs. Pre-pandemic Trump had created 4.7 million, roughly comparable (the Balance, 1-3-20).  But that was before the coronavirus recession, killing the economy and the market, raising unemployment to heights not seen since the Great Depression. If Trump wants to be a leader, then he should take responsibility for his many mistakes in dealing with COVID-19, causing the high unemployment rates. 
  3. Trump and McConnell have pushed through a record number of judges, a number of them unqualified. They have disregarded Senate rules and traditions in not requiring a 60% super-majority to approve lifetime appointments, something that will come back to haunt them when the Democrats take over the Senate. 
  4. The US International Trade Commission has quantified benefits of the NAFTA replacement deal, USMCA. USITC found only minor benefits; it is very little different than the original deal.  
  5. The military was strong when Obama was in office and remains strong now, despite confusing policy signals from the Whitehouse. Military spending actually went up significantly during Obama’s first term and down in his second. In 2018, the military budget was $764 billion, more than it was every year from 2009 through 2013.  

As for “standing up for American interests,” the President has been a dismal failure. Our allies view the President as a bad joke, especially after his lack of leadership during the COVID disaster, as reflected in numerous surveys of their citizens. He has weakened NATO. His self-serving attempt to influence the Ukrainians by withholding military funding made the USA look like a schoolyard bully. His negotiations with North Korea have simply given Kim an opportunity to further develop his nuclear program. By dropping the Iranian nuclear treaty, the Administration has guaranteed a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race. And, the Philippines are moving much closer to China. 

In summary, the reader will have to choose between the two main Presidential candidates in November. Do Trump’s accomplishments outweigh his considerable baggage, much of which I did not detail here? You decide. 

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Image Credit: the caricature of Donald Trump was created by DonkeyHotey (Flickr/Creative Commons).

Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.