Trump has delivered many of his 2016 campaign promises. Here's what remains for second term

From foreign policy to trade and tax reform, Trump has delivered on his campaign pledges, while some of his promises around border security and health care haven't come to fruition

Published: August 25, 2020 5:58pm

Updated: August 27, 2020 12:35am

President Donald Trump has followed through on many of his 2016 presidential campaign promises, but some remain unfulfilled.

Tax reform, which was one of Trump's major agenda items, became law in December 2017. The legislation included across-the-board tax cuts for individuals and families as well as a substantial corporate tax cut from 35% to 21%. Trump also got two conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, confirmed to the Supreme Court.

On the foreign policy front, Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord and the Iran nuclear deal. He also stepped up the military operations against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, resulting in the loss of most of the terrorist group's controlled territory. Trump also moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

When it comes to trade policy, Trump has delivered on his pledge to renegotiate NAFTA and withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Trump had a Republican-led Congress to work with for the first two years of his term. His party lost control of the House of Representatives when Democrats took back the majority in the 2018 midterm elections.

Trump had promised to build a border wall system, which has yet to be completed. He also said the U.S. would make Mexico pay for the wall, but the Mexican government has declined to fund any portion of border barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump and the GOP-led Congress were unable to repeal Obamacare in 2017. The late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) cast the vote that sank the GOP's repeal effort.

Trump often played up his record as a builder and dealmaker in the 2016 campaign, but while White House and congressional leaders have met to discuss infrastructure, an infrastructure bill has not come to fruition.

Here is a complete tally of Trump campaign promises fulfilled and unfulfilled. 


Tax cuts for working Americans and corporations

The tax reform passed in 2017 brings corporate taxes down from 35% to 21%, and while there have been tax cuts for individuals as well, those will need to be renewed eventually.

Pulling out of the Paris climate accord

President Trump started the process of getting the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, which will be finalized in the next few years.

Nominating conservative Supreme Court Justices

Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh have both been appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States by President Trump. Both justices were on the list of potential Supreme Court picks that the Trump campaign released prior to the election 

No presidential salary

Each year, President Trump donates his salary to various federal departments, such as the National Park Service and the Department of Education. 

Moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv was moved to Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. 

Renegotiated NAFTA

On Jan. 29, 2020 Trump signed into law a trade agreement to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. He had called NAFTA a "disaster" and pledged to replace it during his 2016 presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton. 

Pulled U.S. out of Iran agreement

The White House announced on May 8th, 2018 that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the "unacceptable" Iran deal, which the president lambasted as "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into."

Trade with China 

The U.S. signed a new trade pact with China, and phase one is in the process of implementation.

Right to try

The "right to try" bill gives terminally ill patients access to experimental treatments for their conditions that they might not otherwise receive if they were not terminal. These treatments are not approved by the FDA, but may be in the approval process. 

Improving Veterans Choice Act

The VCA was expanded so that more veterans could see their doctors of choice, instead of driving long distances to seek treatment from other VA doctors. 

Lowering unemployment rate

Under President Trump, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to a 50-year low of 3.5% in September 2019. 

Lowering prescription drug prices

On July 24, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order to lower prescription drug prices for Americans and end the "shadowy system of kickbacks by middlemen" that lead to higher prices.

Travel ban for select countries

The Supreme Court upheld a ruling that would allow travel bans from the following countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, North Korea, as well as some government officials from Venezuela. 

Funding for historically black colleges and universities

Trump signed the FUTURE Act in 2019, which "ensures HBCUs receive an annual $255 million in STEM funding for the next 10 years."

Criminal justice reform

On Dec. 21, 2018, President Trump signed the First Step Act. The legislation works to decrease the federal prison population and reduce recidivism.

Refugee admissions

Trump has reduced the number of annual refugee admissions.

Trans-Pacific Partnership 

Trump withdrew the U.S. from the TPP trade deal as promised during the campaign.

Defeating ISIS

President Trump has bombed ISIS in Afghanistan, and has driven out multiple ISIS strongholds, including ones in Syria and Iraq.

Avoiding foreign wars

Trump has kept the U.S. out of any new foreign wars.

Cutting regulations

For every new regulation, Trump has said his administration eliminated two existing regulations.

Ban on White House officials lobbying for a foreign government 

"I'm going to issue a lifetime ban against senior executive branch officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government," Trump said during the 2016 campaign. On Jan. 28, 2017, the president issued Executive Order 13770, which imposes on executive branch appointees a binding pledge not to "engage in any activity on behalf of any foreign government or foreign political party." This requires registration under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.


Completing the border wall system and having Mexico pay for it

Some new miles of border barriers have been installed. But a border wall system has not been completed on most open areas of the southern border, and Mexico has said it won't fund any of it.

Reducing national debt

Trump said during a presidential primary debate that he would work to straighten out the "mess" of the national debt, but it was already rising before the coronavirus pandemic and is now on a fast track to exceed the size of the U.S. economy itself. Some of Trump's budget requests planned reduced federal spending, but he ultimately signed budget bills passed by Congress that did not cut federal spending.


The White House and congressional leaders have met to discuss an infrastructure plan, but a bill has not passed out of Congress. Trump often played up his record as a builder and dealmaker in the 2016 campaign, but an infrastructure deal has eluded him as president.


The Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," has not been fully repealed.


Trump said he wouldn't have "time to go play golf" like former President Obama, but the president has enjoyed more than 250 visits to golf courses in his first term, according to recent media reports.

Term limits

There are still no term limits for members of Congress — something Trump supported enacting in the 2016 campaign as part of his "Drain the Swamp" campaign theme.

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