According to Donald Trump, who was elected president just over two years ago, his administration is among the greatest in history, with the greatest economy in American history and a nation finally respected again. As he told Bob Woodward this summer, “nobody’s ever done a better job than I’m doing as president.”
The United Nations could not hold back a laugh in September when Trump said in a speech: “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”
This lofty rhetoric certainly seems farcical as 2018 draws to a close with government (controlled by the president’s party) shut down, markets in free-fall, and allies abroad fearing an increasingly unpredictable president.
With such a schism in reality — between the president and his supporters who think things are going fine and critics alarmed by each new tweet and headline — numbers are often helpful to get some objective truth.
Here is the truth of how the Trump administration is doing, looking at the numbers.
$55.5 billion: Highest trade deficit in a decade
“The trade deficit was only $84 billion when Bill Clinton was first inaugurated. So, we’ve taken from $84 billion, which is a lot of money, to now $800 billion. And going up, going fast unless I become president. You will see a drop like you’ve never seen before. You have never seen before.”
Despite Trump’s singular focus on trade, America is importing more goods, while exporting less, than it ever has. The federal government announced earlier this month that America’s trade deficit hit $55.5 billion in October, rising almost a billion dollars from September. This is a ten-year high. Rising imports for goods were the main driver — that month’s trade deficit in goods hit $76.9 billion.
3.9 million: Number of children without health insurance
When MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough asked candidate Trump in 2017, “So all Americans will get health care of some sort?” Trump said:
“We’re going to take care of them. We’re going to take care of them. We have to take care of them. Now, that’s not single payer. That’s not anything. That’s just human decency.”
The reality is much darker.
For the first time in almost a decade, the rate of uninsured children in the United States increased, according to a study from Georgetown’s Center for Children and families. The report found that 276,000 more kids didn’t have coverage in 2017 than in 2016, raising the total to 3.9 million. That’s 5 percent of all people under the age of 18, compared to 4.7 percent the year before.
This is an unprecedented increase in how many kids don’t have health insurance, after years of rising coverage rates thanks to bipartisan efforts to expand Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Trump administration has been chipping away at the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid access (through work requirements). The increase in states that did not expand Medicaid was nearly triple the rate in states that did expand.
0: miles of new border wall
Trump has said multiple times that he has already begun constructing his border wall, despite constant fights with Congress to appropriate the money to his administration.
“A lot of the wall is built,” he said this month in the Oval Office. “It’s been very effective.”
However, the Department of Homeland Security admitted last week that no new wall has been constructed on the border under Trump. There has been some replacement and maintenance work done on existing areas of fencing, but zero miles of new wall have been completed in the Trump administration. This lack of new construction angers Trump’s archconservative allies, and the wall’s existence or nonexistence does absolutely nothing for border security. Trump’s inability to realize his most famous campaign promise also reveals the absurdity of his claim of doing a better job than any other president.
3.3 million: The number of acres of conserved land for which Trump eliminated protections
“We’re going to conserve our beautiful natural habitats, reserve, and so important, we’re going to take care of those habitats. We’re going to take care of our reserves. And we’re gonna take such great care of our resources. Our resources are vital. We’re gonna take care of those resources.”
Yet according to a report by the Center for American Progress, the Trump administration cut protections for Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments, affecting almost 2 million acres of land. (Disclosure: ThinkProgress is an editorially independent news site housed at the Center for American Progress.)
He also signed legislation opening up 1.5 million acres in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration. This paired with some additional public lands changes implemented by the Interior Department adds up to 3.3 million acres which lost protections — the largest such action in the nation’s history.
27 percent: World’s confidence in American leadership at historic low
Trump routinely says that America is more respected now than in the past:
“We are respected again, I can tell you that. We are respected again. A lot of things have happened. We’re respected again.”
AMERICA IS RESPECTED AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2018
But in October, a Pew survey found that 70 percent of people across the globe said they lacked confidence in Trump’s ability to do the right thing in world affairs, while 27 percent had confidence in him.
This is a change from President Obama’s rating of 64 percent at the end of his presidency, with 23 percent having no confidence. Trump’s foreign policy has been marked by erratic diplomatic moves and rhetoric, broken treaties, and the humanitarian crisis at the border.
45 percent: Highest opposition to Supreme Court nominee
Trump said his second nominee to the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, was the most deserving person in the country: “There is no one in America more qualified for this position, and no one more deserving.”
Judge Brett Kavanaugh became Justice Kavanaugh in October despite having the largest percentage of Americans opposed to his confirmation of any nominee since polling on this topic began. By the end of his confirmation process, 45 percent of Americans did not want the Senate to confirm him to the Supreme Court, compared to 46 percent who supported him. Kavanaugh’s views on choice, guns, and the environment placed him far outside the mainstream of America, and the way he responded to several women’s allegations of sexual assault further sullied his reputation.
Trump has also nominated more unqualified lower court judges than anyone in recent history. That’s six judges — four district and two appellate — who have earned “not qualified” ratings from the American Bar Association.
This compares to zero from the Obama administration, one from the George W. Bush administration, three from the Clinton administration, and none from George H.W. Bush’s administration. Four of Trump’s not qualified nominees have been confirmed.
15.4: Gigawatts of capacity in coal plant retirements — a record
Trump said during the campaign he would revitalize the coal industry:
“Coal is coming back. Clean coal is coming back, 100 percent… We’re going to bring the coal industry back 100 percent.”
Trump may have said he was bringing the coal industry back, but two years in, the industry is still on a steady decline. Over the last three decades, the coal industry lost around 100,000 jobs, and the last two years have barely moved the needle.
Demand for coal is also not rising — a recent report found that in 2018, more coal-fired electricity generation capacity will be shut down than ever before — 15.4 gigawatts, to be precise.
78.6: Lower life expectancy
Trump said, simply, as a candidate:
“If I win, all of the bad things happening in the U.S. will be rapidly reversed!”
Here’s one statistic that has not improved since he took office. In 2017, life expectancy fell a tenth of a year to 78.6 years, partially due to trends like a rising suicide rate and the opioid crisis.
2.7 percent: Greenhouse gas emissions saw their biggest jump worldwide in 2018
Trump said in 2015:
“And you know what I want to do? I want really immaculate air.”
But the air is not getting cleaner.
After years of relatively small growth, global greenhouse gas emissions rose steeply from 2017 to 2018. Last year saw the United States announce it was withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, which attempted to set the world on a course to emit less rather than more. President Trump began the process in 2017 to pull America out of the agreement, which is the furthest the globe has been able to go on cutting back emissions to date.
It’s not just the Mueller investigation — there are actually 17 total investigations targeting Trump and his businesses, according to a count that appeared in Wired.
The special prosecutor is looking at Russian 2016 election interference, WikiLeaks, Middle Eastern influence, Paul Manafort, Trump Tower Moscow, obstruction of justice, and inappropriate contact between Russia and the Trump campaign as well as the Trump transition team.
There are several other investigations into the Trump Organization, the Trump Inaugural Committee, SuperPAC funding, foreign lobbying, by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. And several other state attorneys general are investigating other parts of the Trump galaxy.