The presidency of Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, from 2017 to 2021 was characterized by a flurry of executive orders, policy changes, and appointments that significantly reshaped the political landscape of America. His presidency was marked by its unique blend of business-like decision-making, genuine use of social media, and the triggering of intense public discourse. This blog post provides an in-depth look at his administration’s significant accomplishments, focusing on various sectors, including the economy, foreign policy, criminal justice reform, and more.
One of Trump’s most notable accomplishments was economic growth, especially before the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Passed in December 2017, this legislation was touted as the most substantial tax overhaul since the Reagan era. It permanently cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and included temporary individual and family tax cuts.
- Unemployment Rate: Pre-pandemic unemployment hit a 50-year low in 2019, and significant job growth was seen, particularly in the manufacturing and construction sectors.
- Deregulation: The Trump administration implemented significant deregulation to boost business growth. Almost eight regulatory actions were eliminated for every new regulation introduced, surpassing his pledge of a two-for-one deregulation initiative.
- Middle East: Trump brokered the Abraham Accords, a peace agreement normalizing relations between Israel and Arab nations like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. This was a significant shift in the regional dynamics of the Middle East.
- North Korea: In a departure from previous administrations, Trump held direct talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea, although these talks did not lead to any concrete denuclearization agreements.
- NATO Funding: Trump consistently pushed NATO members to increase their defense spending, leading to commitments by many member nations to raise their contributions.
Criminal Justice Reform
- First Step Act: A bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, the First Step Act reduced mandatory minimum sentences for certain nonviolent crimes, expanded early-release programs, and offered vocational and rehabilitative programs.
- Repeal of Individual Mandate: While attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) did not succeed, the Trump administration was able to repeal the individual mandate, a vital component of the ACA, through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
- Right to Try Act: This law allows terminally ill patients to access experimental treatments that the FDA has not yet approved.
Trade and Industry
- USMCA: The Trump administration replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), aiming to boost the American manufacturing and auto industry.
- Trade War with China: Through a series of tariffs and trade restrictions, Trump sought to address longstanding issues such as intellectual property theft and trade deficits with China.
- Space Force: Trump launched the United States Space Force, the first new branch of the U.S. military since 1947, emphasizing the need for American dominance in space.
- Artemis Program: The administration reaffirmed its commitment to space exploration by pledging to return humans to the Moon by 2024 under NASA’s Artemis program.
- VA Mission Act: The Act revamped the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system and extended benefits for caregivers. It aimed to improve veterans’ access to V.A. healthcare providers and increase access to community care.
- Opportunity Zones: As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the administration established Opportunity Zones to incentivize private investment in economically distressed areas, including communities of color. The program aimed to spur economic development and job creation in these areas.
- First Step Act: As mentioned earlier, this bipartisan criminal justice reform significantly impacted people of color, given that minority populations are disproportionately incarcerated—the First Step Act aimed to address this racial disparity.
- Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Funding: Under Trump’s administration, funding for HBCUs became more secure with the passage of the FUTURE Act in 2019, which permanently set $255 million in annual STEM funding for minority-serving institutions, including HBCUs. Trump also moved the federal HBCU initiative back into the White House from the Department of Education to show commitment to these institutions.
- Platinum Plan: During the 2020 presidential campaign, Trump introduced the Platinum Plan, which aimed to deliver a series of economic boosts to the Black community, including increasing access to capital by almost $500 billion, creating 3 million new jobs for the Black community, and creating 500,000 new Black-owned businesses. However, as this plan was announced during his reelection campaign, it did not have a chance to be implemented during his presidency.
Whether one views these accomplishments as positive or negative can depend on political ideology, personal belief systems, and individual circumstances. However, there’s no denying that President Donald Trump’s time in office significantly changed the American political, economic, and social landscape. His presidency marked a period of substantial shifts in U.S. policy that continue to shape discussions and debates in contemporary American politics.