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Trump Policies

Donald Trump tried to undo all of the laws, executive orders, regulatory rules, and international agreements introduced by Barack Obama. Joe Biden should not imitate Trump's approach.

All administrations make mistakes. But all also make some good decisions.

Obama's major accomplishment was the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insuring 20 million additional Americans. Even more people would have been covered if the Supreme Court had not sabotaged its Medicaid expansion with a conceptually incoherent decision.

Trump pushed Congress to repeal the ACA. Failing that, he tried to undermine it with administrative decisions. He has also tried to get courts to declare it unconstitutional. Happily, the Supreme Court appears inclined to uphold the ACA.

Biden should not waste time bad-mouthing Donald Trump at every opportunity, as Trump has done to Barack Obama.

The Biden White House should not assume that every Trump policy was bad. And Biden should not waste time bad-mouthing Donald Trump at every opportunity, as Trump has done to Barack Obama.

Trump did American interests no good in withdrawing from the Paris Accord on climate change, from the World Health Organization and from the Iran agreement. But he did have some apparently successful foreign policies. He confused things so royally in our relations with North Korea that he may have inadvertently paved the way to sensible relations with that country.

Trump's creative approach to the Israeli-Palestinian problem shows some promise. Rather than prioritizing agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, as a means to improving relations between Israel and the surrounding Arab countries, Trump's administration has reversed this order of operations. If this process can be continued, once Israel is recognized by most neighbors and at peace with them, Palestinian leaders will have to become more realistic.

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Although Trump has blatantly favored Israel over the Palestinians, his new approach may ironically promote Palestinian welfare by making a separate Palestinian state more impossible than ever. The probable outcome will either be a single democratic state with equal personal and political rights for Palestinians, or an apartheid-like state where Palestinians are second-class citizens. Any apartheid system will be unstable. Once a separate state becomes more obviously impossible, Palestinian leaders will certainly and correctly push for equal rights. Sooner or later Israelis will have to cave.

Although it has not always handled troop withdrawals well, Trump's administration should also be commended for withdrawing our troops from places where they were benefiting neither us nor the local people.

Even the tax reductions pushed through by Trump should not be completely reversed. Corporate taxes did need to be lower, although not this much lower. Of course if Democrats don't control the Senate, raising corporate taxes back up to where they should be will be difficult.

The current administration has badly overdone economic deregulation, especially undermining the rules protecting the environment. But some regulatory relaxation was needed to correct previous administrative overreach. Strangling private innovation with regulations requiring hordes of expensive lawyers and accountants to cope with them is not a great idea, since small startups can't afford to hire these experts.

Donald Trump has not shrunk from appealing to our remaining racist instincts. But not all of his regulatory actions involving race were bad ideas. Cutting back requirements to compile racial statistics may actually be helpful. Likewise with Trump's executive orders against sensitivity training in government agencies. Instead of harping on race at every opportunity, we need to move "beyond race" and focus people's attention on more unifying issues and developing policies that benefit everybody. These administrative actions may encourage that movement.

Even if Democrats take both Georgia Senate seats, Joe Biden will need to seek bipartisan support for his policies. This is another way in which he should avoid emulating Donald Trump, who has mostly tried to govern with only Republican support.


Efforts to overturn all Trump policies will not help Biden get that needed support from Republican senators and representatives.

Paul F. deLespinasse

Republished with the author's permission.