Op-Ed

Trump’s not ready for Mt. Rushmore, but he’s making America greater

I’m not tired of winning just yet, but Donald Trump has made America an even greater nation during his first year.

The economy is booming, as unemployment falls and the stock market soars – we’ve added some $8 trillion in wealth since his election.

Presidents don’t run the economy but Trump deserves credit. His pro-growth push for lower taxes and less regulation has helped unleash the animal spirits of capitalism – a system which remains the greatest engine of human comfort and freedom. While Democrats and Republicans had long agreed on the need to reduce the corporate tax rate and induce U.S. businesses to repatriate trillions in profits earned aboard, Trump made it happen.

Dozens of companies, including Apple, Boeing, FedEx, Starbucks and Wal-Mart, have announced bonuses and pay raises for their employees as a direct result of the tax law.

Trump’s energy policies, especially opening up vast reserves of oil and natural gas in Alaska, will create American jobs while diminishing the power of Russia and other hostile powers.

The repeal of the Obamacare mandate should begin to make insurance affordable for millions of Americans.

His get-tough rhetoric on illegal immigration has led to a steep decline in crossings along the southern border.

Despite claims that he is an authoritarian, Trump has limited executive overreach. For example, most Americans believe the DACA Dreamers should have a path to citizenship. But such large-scale immigration laws must be done by Congressional action, not presidential fiat. By demanding our legislators do their job, Trump is trying to fix our broken government.

Trump has also acted to rein in the power of unelected bureaucrats. For decades, Congress has passed vague laws and then allowed agency officials to determine their meaning and scope. This has transformed our democracy into an administrative state. It has led to a slew of abuses – from the sue and settle tactics endorsed by the EPA, the politicization of the IRS and the unconstitutional overreach of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the dear colleague letters sent without proper notice or review by the Department of Education that threatened the withdrawal of federal funds if schools did not adopt sweeping policies regarding sexual assault and transgender students. Even those who support the aims of those actions should applaud Trump’s efforts to rein in the unchecked power of unaccountable officials. We are, after all, a democracy.

Similarly, Trump’s support for charter schools and vouchers is empowering Americans to decide what’s best for their children.

Trump is also succeeding on the international stage. Despite the incessant claims that he twists and fudges facts, Trump has been the one honest broker willing to proclaim that the global elite has no clothes.

As world leaders patted themselves on the back for the Paris Climate Agreement, he pointed out that it is a symbolic act that will do almost nothing to limit carbon emissions.

As those same leaders touted the Iran nuclear deal – yet another “treaty” his predecessor committed us to in contravention of the constitution – Trump observed that it has not stopped Iran from supporting terror. To those who say it has halted their nuclear program, Trump noted the same claims were made about North Korea, which now has nuclear weapons that can reach the United States.

While major victories over ISIS and the decision to sell lethal defensive weapons to Ukrainians fighting Russian-backed separatists are also noteworthy, Trump’s signature foreign policy move was his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Every president since Bill Clinton has promised to do this – knowing full well they would not.

Instead of complicating peace talks, Trump’s move simplifies them. The idea of a split city serving as the capital of both Israel and Palestine was absurd. It was never, ever going to happen. Trump acknowledged that fact while also, at long last, calling out the Palestinians for using American money to reward the families of suicide bombers.

No, Donald Trump is not perfect – he’s not even Ronald Reagan. But he has accomplished a great deal during his first year. Imagine how much more he might achieve if we just let him do his job.

Contributing columnist J. Peder Zane can be reached at jpederzane@jpederzane.com.

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