While the leftist media has spent much of 2018 hammering the president every which way but loose, this seems an opportune time to take a brief and admittedly subjective look back at President Trump’s achievements in 2018. This list is by no means final, and as such Liberty Nation invites you to add your thoughts about the administration’s performance this year in our comments section below.
Without a doubt, nominating and sticking by Brett Kavanaugh for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court tops our list. Of course, the jury is still out regarding the new associate justice’s adherence to the Constitution as written, and whether he will be a more reliable conservative than retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. As it was a battle royale to confirm Kavanaugh, one can only hope it was worth the effort.
While taking a tougher stance on North Korea, Trump managed to poke the bear without provoking him. The year began with a good deal of saber-rattling by Kim Jong Un, but on June 12, 2018, both leaders pledged to work together to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. As well, the administration negotiated the release of three American prisoners held by the NK government. There continues to be tension between the two countries – including another round of sanctions imposed on North Korea by Trump – but things are nowhere near as messy as they were when the president took office.
Under the leadership of Betsy DeVos, the way in which universities deal with sexual assault accusations changed radically in 2018. Things had gotten out of whack at colleges, and in many cases, the civil liberties of students were being violated as the accused were often treated as guilty until proven innocent. Ms. DeVos put an end to that and tilted the scales toward a more fair and balanced system.
High on the Trump hit list was a partial repeal of Dodd-Frank. The easing of restrictions on banks holding less than $250B in assets was a relief for some financial institutions, and that will inevitably trickle down to the consumer. As well, the president signed an executive order that will create “opportunity zones” for economically depressed areas. And despite fears of tariffs, the GDP crested 4.2% at one point in 2018 – a number that many economists considered unreachable during the Obama administration. No small feat despite the FED raising interest rates at every turn.
Even though progress on a border wall has not been forthcoming, positive strides did occur in the ongoing and acrimonious immigration debate. Albeit reluctantly, Mexico agreed to hold those seeking asylum in the U.S. so that “catch and release” morphed into a “catch and return” policy. This arrangement with our southern neighbor was no small accomplishment. As well, nearly $1.6B was spent to beef up border security this year which included rebuilding and repairing sections of the border fence. As well, the United States Citizenship Immigration Service (USCIS) altered the way it dealt with asylum seekers to clear out the backlog of applicants.
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement
In January, the Attorney General announced the creation of a Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement team – the first of its kind in the U.S. The J-CODE is designed to battle illegal online sales of opioids. At the end of the year, the president signed into law the First Step Act which reduces mandatory minimum sentences for some crimes.
The president was particularly busy in the area of Veterans affairs. He signed the VA Mission Act which expanded veteran access to private healthcare and provides Vets more options. As well, five VA hospitals were removed from the high-risk facilities list because services had improved. And finally, the number of homeless veterans reduced from 40,020 in 2017 to 37,878 in 2018 – a 5.4% decrease.
Energy & Environment
The Trump administration continued to challenge the climate change consensus put forward by the leftist media. The president also persisted in his strong support of coal as a viable energy source along with wind power. The EPA set a 13-year record in cleaning up toxic waste sites around the country. On top of this, low oil prices reigned throughout America for much of 2018.
Despite significant backlash from established media outlets and leftists, the president signed an order banning transgenders from serving in the U.S. armed forces. Mr. Trump also announced the creation of a Space Force as a new, sixth branch of the military. And under the Trump administration, the Pentagon conducted and completed its first-ever department audit to eliminate waste and abuse of taxpayer funds.
The Size of Government and Deregulation
According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Trump “delayed or withdrew 1,579 Obama administration rules” that were to take effect in 2018. The president also signed an order to establish a task force which will review the financial viability of the U.S. Post office. In February, the administration reached an agreement with Boeing to save the U.S. taxpayer $1.4B for two new Air Force One airplanes. And finally, three executive orders were handed down by the president to reform federal workforce rules, making it easier to terminate formerly entrenched workers.
Despite the many achievements of the Trump administration, Second Amendment advocates were perturbed by the president agreeing to a ban on bump stocks. As well, Trump went along with a massive omnibus spending bill – to the tune of $1.3T which fueled a 17% growth of the deficit in FY 2018. And, of course, many supporters of the president continue to be frustrated by Mr. Trump’s inability to begin his signature campaign promise: to build the wall.
Still, as is often said, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and even with a Democrat-controlled House, the president has at least two more years in office to continue making strides to make America great again.