Looking back at some of the attempts to predict Donald Trump’s presidency – many issued about this time last year – those that predicted the president would fulfill his campaign promises have been on the mark, and those that imagined great existential calamities were not.
John Crudele of the New York Post predicted Trump would try to get other politicians to agree with his “view that the U.S. can out-nuke anyone in the world, [but] that won’t be an issue Trump is likely to get much public backing on.”
But that was before North Korea began a series of ever-more-aggressive tests of long-range ballistic missiles, which has prompted not only a new commitment to ensuring the U.S. was covered by missile defense, a concept largely abandoned during the Obama administration but passage in Congress of a new emergency appropriation of $4 billion for missiles and missile defense equipment.
Crudele said Trump would pursue aggressively an infrastructure program if he “has found a way to pay for all this spending that nobody else has thought of.”
Even “talking about adding to the U.S.’ already massive $20 trillion debt load is likely to eventually spook the financial markets and cause interest rates to continue rising,” Crudele wrote.
Trump postponed the infrastructure legislation until next year and opted instead to push for the most significant tax reform in 30 years. His opponents say it is costly – their estimates put the 10-year price tag for these cuts at $1.5 trillion, although other sources say they even could pay for themselves through increased economic growth.
But they cannot say it has spooked the markets. The stock market started going up as soon as Trump took office, has recorded more record highs this year than in any four-year period before and sits about 25,000 for the first time ever. Consumer confidence has reached levels not seen in three decades, and the inflation Crudele worried about has not materialized.
Crudele said Trump should “allow the economy to weaken if that’s what it is doing anyway without any heroic rescue efforts,” because people would blame President Obama. Instead, Trump moved aggressively to reduce regulations, push for lower taxes and faster depreciation and signal to business that the time to open the spigots is now.
The results are growth nearing 4 percent in the last quarter, unemployment at its lowest levels in nearly 20 years and the beginnings of a booming economy.
Slate’s predictions generally held up best when they called for the president to keep his campaign promises but less well when they tried to predict the outcomes.
Yes, he withdrew the US from the Paris climate accords and other collective action plans. But no, polar bears have not gone extinct, as Slate predicted.
Yes, he abandoned the Clean Power Plan, approved pipelines, opened new areas to drilling and otherwise “implemented various policies designed to expand the use of fossil fuels.” But no, carbon emissions have not increased. In fact, they have reached 25-year lows, thanks to fracking and the increased use of natural gas, rather than coal, for home heating.
Yes, President Trump rolled back the Waters of the United States Rule, which threatened to turn every puddle or cattle pond in the US into regulated waterways – a massive intrusion on private property with no discernible public benefit. No, we did not endure “one or more public health disasters like the one in Flint, Mich.”
Yes, the president got his wish in the tax legislation and won repeal of the mandate requiring individuals to buy health insurance. But no, “an emergency government bailout approximately double in sized to the auto bailout of 2008” is not in the offing.
Others were more thoroughly off the mark.
“Trump will publicly feud with Apple over taxes, gay rights and/or surveillance and privacy,” wrote Will Oremus, Slate’s senior technology writer. “The spat will make Apple products ‘cool’ again, if only briefly, and sales of its devices will spike.”
Nothing of this sort happened.
In short, the disasters predicted did not materialize, the markets did not implode and inflation did not destroy the economy. But Trump did keep his campaign promises – and they seem to be working out as he, rather than the mainstream media, predicted.