Sad! Trump's 9 biggest unfulfilled campaign promises

Trump promised the moon on the campaign trail — but since taking office, he's struggled to deliver

By Charlie May
September 9, 2017 2:30PM (UTC)
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(Getty/Brett Carlsen)

Love him or hate him — and we think we know where you fall on that — you have to admit that President Donald Trump ran an energized campaign in 2016, one filled with bold promises and guarantees for the American people.

Now in the back end of his first year in office, even his most loyal supporters are starting to realize that a Trump promise isn't worth the air it's written on.


Yes, Trump ran as the master negotiator, the billionaire real estate mogul who epitomized the American Dream and would waltz into the White House to fix life for the plebs in his very first day in office, or at least, his first 100 days. He even gave his supporters a fancy contract! What he's delivered, however, is a big plate of chaos and failure with a side dish of bupkis.

Yes, he insists, that he's doing a great-fantastic-really-great job in office — maybe a better one than anyone has ever done before. Still, of all the campaign promises Politifact has tracked since Trump took office, 38 percent are "in the works" but may not come to fruition, 24 percent have "stalled" and 25 percent aren't even rated. Sad.

Here we list the biggest outstanding promises out of the dozens and dozens president Trump offered up on the campaign trail, and show how close they are to becoming reality. Spoiler: It ain't good.


1. A special prosecutor for Hillary Clinton
One promise that exemplifies Trump's character more than it does his ability to enact policy was his pledge to investigate his political opponent. "I will ask to appoint a special prosecutor. We have to investigate Hillary Clinton, and we have to investigate the investigation," he said during the race. Actually, the only special prosecutor active during his administration has been Robert Mueller, and he sure isn't on Clinton's trail. Trump's yet to revisit this issue, but his crowds still chant "lock her up!" to this day.

2. Repeal and replace
Another hallmark promise of the Trump campaign was the repeal and replacement of the pinnacle achievement of the Obama administration, known as Obamacare. Matter of fact, Trump said he would begin this process on day one of his tenure (actually, he said he would repeal it on day one, but that was before he knew that he couldn't do that). The reality? After widespread public opposition and protests, Senate Republicans have failed to pass their legislation, which would have stripped more 20 million Americans of their health insurance, by one vote. The president is unlikely to propose a solution that the American public wants, and needs, but look for him to revisit this issue again in the future.

3. No days off
LOL! Remember this? "I would not be a president who took vacations. I would not be a president that takes time off," Trump once said, according to Politifact. Trump repeatedly criticized Barack Obama when he took a family vacation or spent time on the golf course.


But since taking office, Trump has spent many of his weekends away from the White House and at his own private golf courses. During his golf outings he frequently meets with dozens of executives, lobbyists and trade group officials who own memberships at his clubs.

While this was never a promise based on policy, and no one should ever demand that a president not change his scenery every so often, this pledge is rooted in his narcissistic and primitive character flaws. His supporters, who berated Trump's predecessor, have said nothing of his time away from the East Wing.


4. Muslim ban
After pledging to immediately ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. — again, this was a first-day thing in theory — Trump toned it down when he took office.

Sure, he attempted to restrict the inflow of visitors and immigrants from seven Muslim majority nations a few months into his presidency, but that failed miserably and led to swaths of protests at airports and cities across the country when introduced. His second attempt at a ban reduced that seven to six and didn't fare much better. Shortly after that "revised" order was introduced, Trump's senior policy adviser and travel-ban architect, Stephen Miller, admitted it was the same as the first one, so they couldn't even get revising right.

The current status of this promise is in limbo, and the "revised" ban on travel will be heard by the Supreme Court in October.


5. No cuts to Medicaid
"I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid," Trump once promised, Politifact reported.

But Republicans have been aiming to gut Medicaid for years now, and Trump's past budget proposal planned to cut the social program by $800 billion. It's unclear what the future holds for Medicaid at the moment, but the worth of this promise has been proven.

6. Tax returns
After denials and excuses, Trump finally promised to release his tax returns once the Internal Revenue Service's audit was finished mid-campaign. Thing is, he has yet to actually do so even though the IRS says he's free to make them public any time he likes. After his election, Kellyanne Conway — bless her heart — finally admitted that he likely never will. Sorry, everyone.


7. Tax cuts
Trump promised tax cuts for the middle class and pledged to end loopholes that corporations have taken advantage of for decades. But there are few details of Trump's actual tax reform measures, and the details that are available look like they will shower only the wealthiest with cash. Some of his most vocal supporters, like Ann Coulter, have called him on on this.

Sure, his latest speech on taxes ran long on populism, but it's unclear if he's putting any effort into actually achieving any of those propositions. As of now, Trump is pleading with Congress over Twitter to start working on passing his reform measures. Poor guy.

His most recent failed promise is his campaign pledge to protect children brought to the country by their undocumented parents. Trump previously said he loved the DREAMers. Welp, last week he sent Attorney General Jeff Sessions out to announce that the Obama-era program would be rescinded, putting 800,000 people in jeopardy and in the crosshairs of deportation. Of course, he left the decision ultimately up to Congress, as there will be a six-month delay, providing himself with plausible deniability to say in the future that it was the fault of lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

9. The border wall
You know it; you love it. In perhaps Trump's earliest and most famous campaign promise he pledged to build a "big," "beautiful" wall along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border and would demand that Mexico pay for it.


Sing along with us:

"I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great great wall on our southern border and I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall."

When reality caught up with the master builder, he attempted to strong-arm Mexico's president, who repeatedly refused to pay. He then told the press that the two were negotiating terms, something quickly debunked by the Mexicans. Classic stuff.

Subsequently, he threatened to levy a series of tariffs on imports, something he cannot do and which would have made Americans pay for it anyway. Most recently, he threatened to shut the government down if Congress did not set aside down payments. Days later he backtracked.

At this stage, there's a few million earmarked for the multibillion-dollar project and prototypes for new fencing (that's fencing, not a wall) are starting to arrive, but with every week that goes by the wall is looking more and more D.O.A., just like this presidency.



Charlie May

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