Promises, promises: after 4 years in the White House, which ones has Trump kept?


In the flood of half-truths, exaggerations and outright lies that Donald Trump sells in the final days before the election, his campaign is making a claim that has some validity.“I haven’t given up on my promises. I held each one of them, ”Trump said in a video broadcast at the Republican National Convention in August.

Well, no, he didn’t keep them all, but the US president kept enough to fundamentally change the country. And for his supporters, that might be enough to support their guy again – even amid a worsening deadly pandemic.

Case in point: Jeff Johns, a Trump supporter who spoke to CBC reporter Paul Hunter outside of the final presidential debate in Nashville, TN on October 22.

“He’s doing what he said he was going to do,” Johns said of Trump. “Almost everything he said he was going to do, he did. ”

In fact, Trump’s record on his promises is mixed at best. The independent fact-checking organization Politifact reviewed 100 of Trump’s campaign promises as of 2016. He calculated that while 49% of them were broken, he delivered 44% of them, in whole or in part – and 5% are stranded.

WATCH | How many of his 2016 election promises did Trump keep?

From reviving manufacturing in the United States to building a border wall, Donald Trump made a lot of promises during his first presidential campaign. Paul Hunter of CBC News is checking to see if he has followed them. 6h00

Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, had better recording of kept promises, but that didn’t stop Trump from touting his accomplishments and his supporters believing him to the ballot box.

Redoing the judicial system

The shift to the right of the justice system is not just a promise kept – it is the kick-off of campaign promises, straight out of the political park.

Trump has confirmed three Supreme Court justices during his four-year tenure. Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton each had only two opportunities to confirm the judges in their eight-year presidencies.

Trump’s success in this area is in part due to circumstances, including the death of Liberal Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg on September 18.

Trump is presiding over Amy Coney Barrett’s swearing-in as the new Supreme Court justice on the South Lawn of the White House on October 26. (Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty Images)

But it is also the result of the calculation and planning of the Republican Party and, more specifically, of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If McConnell had not delayed the appointment of Obama’s Supreme Court candidate Merrick Garland in 2016, Trump’s first opportunity to appoint a judge (Neil Gorsuch) would not have happened. And if McConnell had played by her own rules to wait until the election was over to appoint a replacement for Ginsberg, Amy Coney Barrett wouldn’t be on court just yet.

This fulfilled promise goes well beyond the Supreme Court. Prior to his appointment to the United States Supreme Court, Barrett was the 220th confirmed federal judge under President Trump and the Senate led by McConnell.

“We do a lot of things here that are little balls, but it’s something that can last 25 or 30 years,” said Texas Senator John Cornyn. told the Washington Post last week when describing the impact of judicial appointments under the Trump administration.

WATCH | Confirmation hearings begin October 13 for Amy Coney Barrett:

Deep divisions between Republicans and Democrats were at the fore on the first day of Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court candidate Amy Coney Barrett. Coney Barrett says she would not let her personal beliefs influence her judgments. 2:01

Tax cuts and the economy

At a rally in Bullhead, Ariz. On Oct. 28, Trump told the crowd, “A vote for me is a vote for massive tax cuts for the middle class, cuts in regulation, a trade fair. ”

His file has proof of that. In 2017, the Trump administration overhauled the U.S. tax code, lowering rates for individuals and businesses. But has the middle class really benefited from these cuts?

According to the White House, a family of four earning US $ 73,000 a year received a tax break of $ 2,000 in 2018. But those are small potatoes compared to what businesses are saving – about 1 , $ 5 trillion over 10 years, according to the Joint Commission on Taxation, which reports to the Senate and House finance and budget committees.

Trump displays the $ 1.5 trillion tax review package he signed in December 2017 (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Democrats say tax cuts have benefited the rich and exacerbated inequality – and The Center for Public Integrity reported more businesses paid no tax in 2018, in part because of tax laws. This is also a case where the fulfillment of one promise meant that the president could not keep another. The combination of lost tax revenue, spending more money on defense – another campaign pledge – and coronavirus costs have skyrocketed the US national debt at over $ 27 trillion.

That’s about $ 8 trillion more than when Trump took office in 2017, when he promised to eliminate him completely.

When it comes to deregulation, much of the administration’s rollback of the rules has focused on the environment. The New York Times listed 100 policies related to clean air, water, wildlife and toxic chemicals that were rolled back or rolled back under Trump, including weakening rules for vehicle emissions and power stations, as well as the removal of wetland protection.

America first

Donald Trump a promis a new type of foreign policy, the one who put “America first”. Over the past four years, this has meant withdrawing from multilateral international institutions, which has reduced American leadership in the world.

The United States abandoned the Paris Climate Agreement, the Iran Nuclear Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and renegotiated NAFTA with Canada and Mexico to form the new USMCA trade agreement. While American troops remain in Iraq and Afghanistan, their number decreases, reflecting Trump’s commitment to end endless wars.


Trump’s promise to build a “great and beautiful wall” on the US border with Mexico – and to make Mexico pay for it – was the cornerstone of his 2016 campaign.

In 2020, Trump told crowds at his campaign rallies that the wall was almost done, but that’s a very generous definition of “almost.”

Trump speaks during a June 2020 visit to a section of the border wall in San Luis, Arizona. (Evan Vucci / The Associated Press)

The initial promise was for more than 1,600 kilometers of concrete barrier. In fact, the US Customs and Border Patrol says about 500 kilometers have been built, mainly to reinforce existing barriers and fences. The Associated Press reports that less than seven kilometers of wall have been built where no barrier previously existed.

Mexico paid nothing for it. The cost of the project – estimated at over 11 billion dollars – is borne by the United States. In fact, the president embezzled money from the Pentagon budget to cover it.

WATCH | Trump vows to build a wall along the US-Mexico boder at a 2016 campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona:

Trump: “Mexico will pay for the wall. »0:38

But the repression of immigration promised by the president is real. Under Trump, the United States is a much harder place to enter. As promised, the administration has restricted travel from several Muslim-majority countries (although the law should be adapted and expanded after legal challenges). The non-partisan Migration Policy Institute found that Trump was using executive actions to end the asylum system at the southwest border and reduce refugee admissions.

In 2021, the Trump administration plans to cap the number of refugees admitted to the United States at 15,000 per year, down from the current ceiling of 18,000, and much less than the more than 85,000 slots in the last year of the Obama administration.

Broken promises

Some of the 2016 campaign pledges simply went unfulfilled. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, remains in place despite Trump’s promise to repeal and replace the Health Care Act. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on Obamacare in November, and the Trump administration supports its complete removal. Despite Trump’s promise to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, he hasn’t explained how he would do it.

Remember “Drain the swamp” Trump’s call to clean up corruption in Washington? This does not happen. His administration introduced no anti-corruption legislation and Trump himself has not divested from its activities. In fact, many argue that the swamp has become more boggy, with Trump’s own family in key government positions and his properties profiting from government business.

A protester holds a sign during a September protest march in Los Angeles. (Mario Tama / Getty Images)

Coal did not return despite its promises. There are also no significant manufacturing jobs. In either case, it may have more to do with broader market forces.

All of these promises, whether or not kept, may pale in comparison to the rising death toll in the United States from COVID-19. For those who are inclined to believe Trump when he says the pandemic has “turned the corner” – despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary – or that he did his best, there are many reasons for voting to keep him in office.

The question for voters is whether they see more positive than negative in a record which, in four years, has radically changed the country.


What do you want to know about the American elections? Your questions help inform our coverage. Write to us at [email protected]


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here