Mr. Trump won the presidency in 2016 after making more than 100 promises. Here’s where some stand four years later and what some of his supporters think of them.
President Trump arriving at Pope Field in North Carolina on Thursday.
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Four years ago, Donald J. Trump won the presidency after making a series of concrete promises to his supporters.
“I would repeal and replace the big lie, Obamacare,” he said during his kickoff speech. “I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me.” Unlike his 2020 campaign, which is based on vague promises of more “winning, winning, winning,” Mr. Trump’s campaign four years ago was rooted in promises of tax cuts and the appointment of judges with conservative credentials.
Has he kept the promises that helped get him here? And do his supporters care? A recent survey from New York University found that those who voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 thought he had broken fewer than one promise out of five. Those who voted for Hillary Clinton said he broke more than four out of five.
In reality, Mr. Trump has broken about half of 100 campaign promises, according to a tracker by PolitiFact. The fact-checking website does not measure intention, only verifiable outcomes. (On average, presidents break about a third of their promises.)
Supporters of Mr. Trump who spoke to The New York Times said overwhelmingly that they were pleased with how he had lived up to his pledges. Here’s a look at how he fared on some of his signature promises.
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“I think he’s going to have issues because he’s going to have to go through Congress. I am slightly disappointed that it hasn’t happened yet, I don’t know if it’s his fault or not,” said Mike Vorwaller, a 42-year-old project manager for an engineering company in St. Johns, Fla. “I do like that he’s removed the individual mandate.”
Mr. Sanchez, the defense contractor and a veteran who lives in Arizona, said that he had spoken to Mr. McCain several times throughout the years and that he had been “so frustrated” with the senator, who died in 2018.
“I wish I had been able to talk to him one last time,” Mr. Sanchez said. “I don’t know whether he voted against the repeal bill because he hated President Trump or because he believed he was doing the right thing.”
“Obamacare is the law of the land,” Mr. Sanchez granted and said that Mr. Trump did what he could.
President Trump after signing tax cut legislation in 2017.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times
The 2017 tax cuts are one of the biggest legislative achievements of Mr. Trump’s first term in office, and one celebrated by his supporters.
“Business is booming. We’re coming back even stronger after Covid,” said Justin Davies, 36 and small-business owner in Rutherfordton, N.C. “The Trump tax cuts have saved us somewhere between $20,000 to $30,000 a year in taxes.”
Some critics, however, have noted that the final tax cut that Mr. Trump signed into law was far smaller than what he promised as a candidate. The Tax Policy Center, run by the Brookings Institution, estimated that it was only one-quarter the size of the plan Mr. Trump campaigned on four years ago.
Mr. Trump said he would cut the top corporate income tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent, for example. His final bill brought it down to 21 percent.
Those nuances, however, have been left out of his rallies, where Mr. Trump has been telling his supporters (falsely) that he succeeded in passing the “biggest tax cut in history.”
While most Americans got a tax cut, high earners received 60 percent of the total tax savings. That’s somewhat at odds with the promise made in Mr. Trump’s “contract with the American voter” that the “largest tax reductions are for the middle class” — and a fact not lost to some supporters.
“I’m not happy with the fact that he cut taxes for the upper income brackets. I don’t think he wanted to do it, but the Republican Senate forced him to do it,” said Gabriel Steinberg, 25, a medical student in Manhattan. “But he signed it, it’s his bill.”
Despite this, Mr. Steinberg said the president’s efforts were what mattered. “I think over all he has remained committed toward his campaign pledges with some notable exceptions. Has he achieved everything he’s set out to? No, but his commitment is important.”
Renegotiate Trade Deals
During the 2016 race, Mr. Trump broke with bipartisan orthodoxy and questioned Washington’s decades-long support for free trade deals. He vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement or withdraw from it entirely, pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and raise tariffs.
He has delivered on those promises. He withdrew from the T.P.P. in his first days in office. He waged a trade war with China and slapped tariffs on numerous imports, leaving American consumers to bear the financial brunt. He signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which included significant changes but also an array of simple updates of the 25-year-old Nafta.
Though some experts are skeptical that Mr. Trump’s trade policies have been economically beneficial — with the conservative Tax Foundation estimating that the tariffs have brought in revenue, but reduced wages, gross domestic product and job growth — supporters have been delighted.
Mr. Davies said he had lost his job as an engineer because of Nafta, when executives at his former company informed employees that it was moving to Mexico. In contrast, he said, Mr. Trump’s trade policies have revived the area.
“If you wanted to come to our small town, I’ll show all our hiring signs around the county. We’re rebounding so fast,” he said. “There are jobs everywhere, especially pre-Covid. In my small town of 20,000, there was, at one time, 1,500 manufacturing openings. The Chamber of Commerce told me that.”
That experience hasn’t been universal. Across the nation, manufacturing employment rose by about 500,000 through March. But, ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, there were 190,000 fewer jobs in the sector by September than when Mr. Trump took office.
Rick Roeder, 72, of Raleigh, N.C., said he had not directly benefited from Mr. Trump’s trade policies, but he was nonetheless “thrilled with the renovation with Nafta and thrilled that he’s confronted China and some of our European trading partners.”
Mr. Roeder, who is retired, stressed that he found Mr. Trump personally distasteful.
“But having said all of that, I early voted and I voted for him,” Mr. Roeder said. “He’s done the things that I wanted him to do.”