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As First Term Nears End, Trump Still Has Much Work Left to Do

'We will get it done...'

(Headline USA) President Donald Trump swept into office nearly four years ago as an outsider who promised to get things done quickly on behalf of the American people through sheer force of will and unrivaled knowledge about the art of the deal.

But Trump acknowledged in his three campaign rallies on Saturday that the “Swamp,” which he pledged to drain, was much deeper than he expected.

Trump has faced unprecedented resistance from Democrats and their allies in the media, as well as other left-skewed fields including the entertainment industry, academia, and the extremely influential tech industry led by social-media giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Many expected Trump to be derailed by Robert Mueller’s extensive Russia investigation and House Democrats’ impeachment attempt last year.

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But it was the coronavirus that ultimately derailed his booming, historically robust economy and forced Trump to shift focus away from his campaign pledges.

Nonetheless, the Republican leader has checked off several items on his to-do list as his Nov. 3 re-election bid fast approaches.

Trump pushed through the most significant overhaul of the U.S. tax system since President Ronald Reagan.

And fulfilling his pledge to right the outrageous judicial activism that flourished under his predecessor, Barack Obama, Trump has helped bring the judicial system back in line.

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The confirmation of two conservative justices and likely a third, Amy Coney Barrett, in the coming days will assure that, whatever the outcome of the election, Democrats cannot use the court to do its bidding unless it chooses to pursue deeply unpopular court-packing policies.

Trump’s promise to get tough on illegal immigration has resulted in a surge in migrant apprehensions at the U.S.–Mexico border, as well as fewer attempts by illegal immigrants to exploit the formerly porous border.

But Trump has also faced the same hard truth that each of his White House predecessors learned: Governing is rarely easy.

A look at some of the president’s unfinished business as he asks voters for a second term in the White House:

HEALTH CARE

Trump has managed to fix many of the problems with Obama’s health care law, but has fallen far short of his promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

His administration has managed to dismantle parts of the law.

Enrollment periods have been shortened, some subsidies were ended and the individual mandate—the legally dubious penalty for people without health insurance—has been eliminated.

Trump says he’s still focused on replacing the with something “much better and much less expensive.”

He said in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that “it will be so good” if the Supreme Court puts an end to “Obamacare” when the justices hear challenges to it next month.

“ENDLESS WARS”

Trump has made modest progress toward meeting his 2016 pledge to bring home all troops from what he calls America’s “endless wars.”

When he took over the White House, the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan stood at about 8,400, and there were about 6,800 troops in Iraq.

Within a year, the number of troops in Afghanistan climbed to about 15,000. Trump approved commanders’ requests for additional troops to reverse setbacks in the training of Afghan forces, fight an increasingly dangerous Islamic State group and put enough pressure on the Taliban to force it to the peace table.

In February, the U.S. and the Taliban signed an agreement that calls for the eventual complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

With an eye toward the election, Trump has accelerated his push to bring troops home, teasing that all U.S. troops could be out of Afghanistan by the end of the year.

Pentagon officials said the number of troops in Afghanistan will drop to 4,500 in November. But defense officials insist there are no plans to have all troops home from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

U.S. officials also say there currently is no approved plan to reduce the number to 2,500 by early next year. The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

In Iraq, the number of U.S. troops has dipped from about 5,000 to roughly 3,000, although officials say the number fluctuates higher as units rotate in and out.

THE WALL

During his 2016 primary run, Trump sought to mark his ground as an immigration enforcer who would build “a great, great wall on our southern border” in contrast to the open-door policies promoted by Obama and 2016 contender Hillary Clinton.

Nearly four years later, Trump still has work to do completing his wall.

Much that has been completed has been paid by U.S. taxpayers, despite promises otherwise.

Although, true to his word, Trump has renegotiated trade deals with Mexico and exerted pressure for the United State’s southern neighbor to be more accountable on immigration issues, Democrats taking Trump’s campaign pledges literally point to the fact that Mexico has not directly paid for the wall.

Trump freed up $3.6 billion for the wall last year by diverting money from military construction projects as well as $2.5 billion from approved counterdrug spending.

But Democrats—joined by some leery, anti-government conservatives—attempted to block Trump from redirecting Pentagon funds after they refused to provide the funds in their own budgetary appropriations.

The president’s administration has promised to build 450 miles by the end of this year and has so far built 371.

Trump has replaced hundreds of miles of old, worn-out barriers, meant only to stop cars, with tall, 30-foot fencing that is much harder to get over.

But he has been thwarted by activist judges siding with environmental groups and other radicals.

Conservationists in Arizona, where a bulk of the building has taken place, forced the liberal 9th District Court of Appeals to issue an injunction on the basis that the new wall is detrimental to wildlife and the surrounding ecosystems.

MIDEAST PEACE

Early in his presidency, Trump expressed confidence that his administration could broker a long-term peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We will get it done,” Trump declared in May 2017. He put his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner in charge.

Trump moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step that was cheered by Israelis and the president’s evangelical Christian supporters in the U.S.

He also scored a big win in recent weeks with the U.S. nudging Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates—three Arab states—to normalize relations with Israel.

But despite garnering prestigious Nobel Peace Prize nominations for his efforts, the agreements between nations that have never been in direct conflict don’t meaningfully move the ball in achieving the large and long elusive goal of achieving peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

His biggest policy success thus far may be withdrawing from a controversial Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration and continuing to take a hard-line against the radical Islamist regime. That included killing top terrorist leaders such as Qassem Soleimani, who had plotted against US interests

Trump’s opponent, Joe Biden, likely would seek to re-enter peace negotiations with Iran, even though the arrangement offered few mechanisms for holding it accountable in the event that it welshed on the agreement—which evidence suggests it did.

Obama’s administration also hand-delivered pallets of cash to Iran, which it immediately proceeded to use in funneling cash to terrorist groups like Hezbollah in their effort to undermine and attack Israel.

INFRASTRUCTURE

The White House’s multiple attempts to designate an “infrastructure week”—each effort quickly eclipsed by other issues—have become something of a running punchline in the administration.

In his 2016 victory speech, Trump said he would rebuild the nation’s highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools and hospitals, making American infrastructure “second to none” and putting millions to work in the process.

Nearly four years later, the virulently anti-Trump Democrats who regained control in the 2018 midterm had failed to produce legislation for the president to sign.

In April 2019, Trump reached an agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to pursue a $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

This March, he resurrected the idea for a “VERY BIG & BOLD” plan for infrastructure spending to help jolt the staggering economy after the coronavirus pandemic hit.

While Pelosi and Schumer again threw their support behind big infrastructure spending, Senate Republicans have bristled at deficit spending, and Trump’s sales pitch has gone nowhere with his own party.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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