Commentary: 3 Things Donald Trump Did Right This Year

Every president makes news, but Trump is in a class by himself in this regard. From the outset of his campaign to his most recent tweet, the press has dissected and analyzed every word, every squabble, every White House hiring and firing, and every rally speech. Love him or hate him, he gets great ratings.

Even if you’re not an avid consumer of political news, you’re probably aware of the major accomplishments of his presidency. Trump put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, he’s about to sign a tax-reform bill into law, and he’s dramatically rolled back President Obama’s regulations. You probably know that he’s moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and that he pulled the country out of the Paris Climate Accord. Indeed, if you’ve watched one minute of cable television, you’re aware of his Twitter (TWTR) style and know the names of most of his Cabinet and senior staff.

Most people also know that the president has yet to make good on promises to repeal Obamacare and build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. And most people know that the stock market is currently soaring and that unemployment numbers are crashing to a 17-year low, whether or not you connect these successes to Trump. Not even a year into his presidency, Americans have been highly exposed to the Trump story.

Yet, President Trump has had a plethora of policy successes that the media hasn’t fully covered. His White House and his Cabinet have spent the first year of their administration racking up a few quiet wins.

The president has put his focus on immigration enforcement, and the effect is beginning to take shape, telling a major success story. ICE has arrested more than 100,000 people who entered the U.S. illegally, 70% of whom were already convicted criminals. ICE removed nearly 2,800 criminal gang members in the last fiscal year. Additionally, President Trump led an international effort to arrest and charge 3,800 MS-13 and 18th Street gang members, two of the most violent gangs on the planet.

Another undercover success story is found in the energy sector. President Trump approved the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a move that will lead to the creation of 42,000 jobs. In the spring, the Department of the Interior will sell 77 million acres of leases for oil and gas production on the Gulf of Mexico. That’s the largest such offering in history and could lead to 1.12 billion barrels of oil. The EPA has signaled its intent to repeal the job-killing Clean Power Plan, and the administration has streamlined the approval process for exporting liquefied natural gas.

The American energy industry is on the brink of a growth explosion thanks to these underreported policies.

America’s cherished veterans are also finally getting the reform effort they deserve. The president has enacted three major reform bills for the Department of Veterans Affairs.


The first, the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, will alleviate the claims backlog that veterans have long suffered through. Now they’ll have access to a more efficient, streamlined service and can have their claims adjudicated much quicker. This is the first update to the appeals process since the 1930s. The second, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, reauthorizes and improves the post- 9/11 GI Bill that helps veterans get education benefits. The last, the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act, opens up more options for veterans’ health care.

The press hasn’t covered many of the 70 bills that President Trump has signed into law, and they haven’t covered the positive effect of many of his administration’s policies. On immigration, energy, and veterans, the president has made a huge impact in his first year. That’s hardly what we’d expect with a president that makes news so often, but it’s true.

Thomas Binion is director of congressional and executive relations for The Heritage Foundation.

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