A year of Trump: how much has changed in the past year?

In delivering his first State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump spoke of many small victories that he chalked up to his administration’s record over the past year. Yet the biggest surprise to many may have been the fact that they saw before them a Commander-in-Chief who unwaveringly stuck to the script and eschewed his usual provocative style on social media. While “Twitter Trump” has lashed out at Democrats on immigration reform and the federal government shutdown earlier in January, “Teleprompter Trump” issued a generous call for bipartisanship in policymaking. Where Mr. Trump has actively promoted, on social media, Russian involvement in resolving problems with North Korea, Syria, Ukraine and terrorism, he said in his Congressional address that Russia and China were rivals that challenged U.S. economic interests. Most strikingly, Mr. Trump assured his audience that prospective immigrant families would benefit from his proposed reform, yet just three months ago he had vowed on Twitter that the Extreme Vetting Programme for migrants from certain countries was being stepped up to fourth gear. The divergence between Mr. Trump’s two assessments of the current scenario is troubling also because the softer version of Americana he outlined in the State of the Union speech is in stark contrast to his inaugural speech a year ago when he famously spoke of “American carnage”. The question is, how much has really changed in the intervening year?

Considering his administration’s successes first, at the top of the list is the passage in Congress of his tax-cut proposal that he claimed put more money back into American workers’ pockets and built the foundations of a stronger economy. Leaving aside the fact that it was the 12th largest tax cut in post-World War I history, and not the largest as Mr. Trump claimed, it is quite likely that his voter base appreciates his adherence to the Republican fiscal mantra. On the linked subject of growth and jobs, the economy expanded by 2.3% in 2017, which is less than it did in 2014 or 2015. Mr. Trump’s first year saw more than two million jobs created, yet that falls short of any of the last six years of his predecessor’s tenure. Mr. Trump’s decision to revoke the previous administration’s decision to shut down the U.S. prison in Guantánamo Bay may have been a throwaway to policy hawks, but it could turn out to be self-defeating to the extent that it serves as a recruitment tool for terrorist groups. While Americans will continue to debate these complex questions of domestic policy, the attention of the world, including India, must have been on Mr. Trump’s call to end the sought-after visa lottery and “chain migration”. Given the context of a hardening immigration policy, which could potentially affect legal migration, these remarks will likely make the American Dream seem like a mirage to separated loved ones and hopeful professionals on distant shores.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 3:01:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/editorial/a-year-of-trump/article22613506.ece

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