In his third year in office, President Trump continued to deliver an extraordinary list of accomplishments. Today, I offer my annual list of the 10 best things Trump did this year (my next column will list the 10 worst):
10. He continued to deliver for the forgotten Americans. Unemployment is at record lows; this year the number of job openings outnumbered the unemployed workers to fill them by the widest gap ever; wages are rising, and low-wage workers are experiencing the fastest pay increases. Fifty-seven percent of Americans say they are better off financially since Trump took office.
9. He implemented tighter work requirement for food stamps. With unemployment at historic lows, there is no reason more people should not be earning their success through productive work. The rules apply only to able-bodied, childless adults. When we require people to work for public assistance, we not only help meet their material needs but also help them achieve the dignity and pride that come with being a contributing member of our community. Work is a blessing, not a punishment.
8. He has got NATO allies to cough up more money for our collective security. Allies have increased defense spending by $130 billion since 2016. And the White House reports almost twice as many allies are meeting their commitment to spend 2% of gross domestic product on defense today than before Trump arrived.
7. He stood with the people of Hong Kong. He warned China not to use violence to suppress pro-democracy protests and signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. Hong Kong people marched with American flags and sang our national anthem in gratitude.
6. His withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is delivering China and North Korea a strategic setback. The United States is now testing new, previously banned intermediate-range missiles. These weapons will allow us to compete with China’s massive investment in these capabilities, and also provide a fallback in the likely case negotiations with North Korea fail — obviating the need for temporary deployments of U.S. carrier battle groups and allowing us to put North Korea permanently in our crosshairs.
— Marc Thiessen (@marcthiessen) December 28, 2019
5. His “maximum pressure” campaign is crippling Iran. Iran’s economy is contracting, inflation is spiraling and the regime has been forced to cut funding for its terrorist proxies, including Hezbollah and Hamas, the Iranian military and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). And now the Iranian people are engaged in the largest popular uprising since the 1979 revolution.
4. His tariff threats forced Mexico to crack down on illegal immigration. Mexico is for the first time in recent history enforcing its own immigration laws — sending thousands of National Guard forces to its southern border to stop caravans of Central American migrants. Plus, Congress is poised to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free-trade agreement, which would not have been possible without the threat of tariffs.
3. He delivered the biggest blow to Planned Parenthood in three decades. Thanks to Trump’s Protect Life Rule that prohibits Title X family planning funds from going to any clinic that performs on-site abortions – Planned Parenthood announced this year that it is leaving the Title X program barring a court victory.
2. He ordered the operation that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It was a high-risk mission that required U.S. forces to fly hundreds of miles into terrorist-controlled territory.
1. He has continued to appoint conservative judges at a record pace. The Senate recently confirmed Trump’s 50th pick for the federal circuit courts of appeal, which have final say over about 60,000 cases a year. In three years, Trump has appointed just five fewer circuit court judges than Obama appointed in eight years. And he has flipped three of these courts from liberal to conservative majorities, giving conservatives the majority in seven out of 13.
There are many other significant achievements that did not make the top 10. Despite an inexcusable 55-day delay, he gave Ukraine the lethal aid that the Obama-Biden administration refused to deliver. He secured the release of additional American citizens held abroad. He launched cyberattacks on Iran, approved a major arms sale to Taiwan, imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials over Beijing’s oppression of the Uighurs, and refused to make major concessions to North Korea.
So does the good outweigh the bad? In the next column, we’ll review the 10 worst things Trump did in 2019.
Follow Marc A. Thiessen on Twitter, @marcthiessen. He is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group.