For President Donald J. Trump, 2017 concludes unlike the way it commenced.
His commanding inaugural address soon became swamped by an enervating debate over the size of the crowd that had witnessed it. That national screaming match foreshadowed other huge distractions, including court battles concerning Trump’s travel restrictions on terror-torn nations, a Niagara Falls of classified leaks, and loud threats of impeachment over alleged Russian collusion. Meanwhile, repealing and replacing Obamacare, expected to take just a few months, devolved into a quagmire that devoured time, energy, and morale.
But 2017 ends as Trump’s Year of Winning Dangerously. The President of the United States has navigated these and other troubled waters and defied his critics — from Resist on the left to Never Trump on the right. As he puts it: “We are compiling a long and beautiful list” of achievements.
As Trump and Republicans gathered at the White House to celebrate passage of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act with overwhelming GOP support, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell announced: “This has been a year of extraordinary accomplishments for the Trump administration.”
While free traders and entitlement reformers could ask for more, nearly all of Trump’s triumphs are solidly conservative victories. Indeed, Trump has implemented policies over which the Right has fantasized for years, sometimes decades.
‐The $1.5 trillion Tax Cut and Jobs Act is the most significant tax-policy overhaul since 1986. On January 1, these conservative dreams will come true: a massive slash in the corporate tax (from a 35 percent rate to 21, thus reducing the business levy by 40 percent), repatriation of overseas profits, a territorial tax system, and immediate expensing of capital investments.
Beyond taxes, per se, TCJA also secures free-market priorities in energy, health care, and school choice.
TCJA permits petroleum development in 2,000 acres of the 19-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. While leaving literally 99.99 percent of ANWR untouched, the 0.01 percent available for drilling could yield up to 1.45 million barrels of oil daily, equal to 14.5 percent of current domestic production. The GOP has tried to unlock ANWR since 1979.
TCJA makes enrollment in Obamacare voluntary by scrapping the individual-coverage mandate. Those who want Obamacare may keep it, but never again will anyone be penalized for rejecting Obamacare. While this will not kill Obama’s disastrous monstrosity immediately, it shoves a shiv between its ribs. This is the GOP’s greatest progress in snuffing out Obamacare since 2010.
Thanks to an amendment by Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas), “529” accounts soon may accept tax-free deposits for K–12 education, not just college tuition. This will fortify a woman’s right to choose to send her child to private or parochial school.
‐Associate Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch was just the first of Trump’s constitutionalist judicial nominees. Since then, 12 new appeals-court judges have been seated in one year — a record. Six other federal jurists also have begun their duties. The conservative Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society have helped Trump select these originalists.
‐President Trump promised to kill two regulations for every new one he imposed. So far, he has over-delivered 11-fold: he has scotched 22 new rules for every new one he has inflicted. Some 1,500 such restrictions have been erased or postponed. At a December 14 Roosevelt Room ceremony, Trump used scissors to cut a crimson ribbon beside stacks of regulations that towered over him. He said the “never-ending growth of red tape in America has come to a sudden, screeching, and beautiful halt.”
‐Trump’s FCC hit Control-Alt-Delete on one such regulation. “Net neutrality” has gone the way of unsaved work. So, America now returns to the uninviting, non-innovative Internet of 2015. What? You don’t remember those dreadful days before net neutrality? Nobody does.
More than most of Obama’s multifarious fandangos, net neutrality was uniquely absurd and holistically pointless. This was a big-government non-solution to a completely nonexistent problem. Before this policy, Internet speeds increased, services multiplied, and prices fell. Net neutrality aimed to correct these “injustices.”
Net neutralizers claim that — horrors — Internet service providers now may charge different prices for diverse connection speeds and favor some higher-value traffic over less-valuable digital flow, which would be cheaper. Outrageous!
But people seemed happy that ISPs, such as Time-Warner Cable, offered such choices before net neutrality. Consumers who mainly read e-mail and browsed Wikipedia paid less for simple plans with slower connections. Those who swapped PowerPoints at lightning speed and watched films on Netflix paid more for super-swift downloads and uploads.
This was — and now will be — no more immoral than when the Post Office lets someone send a letter first-class for 49 cents or zip it via Priority Mail for $6.65. If Uncle Sam may charge variable prices for variable speeds with letters, private parties should be free to do so with e-mail, videos, and other digital communications. Net neutrality’s welcome departure will remove Washington’s dead hand from this huge and growing industry.
What a joy to see this utterly useless slice of Obama’s failed legacy hacked off and hurled atop the ash heap of history.
‐President Trump approved the still-unbuilt section of the Keystone XL pipeline. It finally will bring friendly, terror-free oil from Canada to American refineries, thus cementing a goal that the GOP has pursued since September 2008.
‐President Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel and announced that America would move its diplomatic mission there, from Tel Aviv, as soon as construction allows. This enforces the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. Jubilant Israeli officials just announced that they will christen a rail station near the Western Wall after the president, thus making the Trump Train a real thing.
‐Despite (or perhaps because of) his sometimes tornado-in-a-sculpture-garden style, Trump has brought Americans home from foreign captivity. Those whom Trump’s diplomacy liberated include American charity worker Aya Hijazi, who was held in Egypt; former CIA agent Sabrina De Sousa, who was in Portuguese custody, and three UCLA basketball players, who were arrested for shoplifting in China. Trump also gained the freedom of severely abused American student Otto Warmbier. Alas, Warmbier arrived on June 13 in a coma and soon passed away, surrounded by loved ones. The maniac Kim Jong-un government killed him at age 22 for lifting a poster from a hotel wall as a souvenir. At least the young man didn’t perish in Pyongyang.
‐“This will not be quick,” Obama predicted about defeating ISIS in July 2015. “This is a long-term campaign.”
While President Trump, his supporters, and the American people can revel in these and many more policy advances, what can the Democrats showcase for 2017? Nothing.
Never mind. President Trump has made quick work of ISIS. The radical-Islamic caliphate once terrorized its subjects within an area the size of Ohio. Some 1,000 ISIS killers, down from 45,000, now control a few hellacious acres of Iraq and Syria. According to U.S. intelligence, 98 percent of ISIS’s former territory has been liberated, more than half under Trump. He unleashed U.S. advisers to make tactical decisions on the ground, rather than endlessly await White House permission to hit specific targets, as Obama demanded. This huge victory keeps Trump’s blunt promise from September 2016: “ISIS must be destroyed.”
‐All of this good news helped push stock markets to record highs, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 25 percent since Trump’s swearing-in. The capital markets have generated some $5 trillion in new wealth since his election. Meanwhile, unemployment has plummeted to record lows in 13 states and the lowest nationwide in 17 years.
While President Trump, his supporters, and the American people can revel in these and many more policy advances, what can the Democrats showcase for 2017?
Democrats have resisted Trump and his agenda at virtually every turn. They are fresh out of ideas and possess no vision. Their relentless allegations about Team Trump’s collusion with “Russia, Russia, Russia” have amounted to a collective hallucination.
Even worse, in a textbook case of psychological projection, the Left’s Russiagate charges mask the only real Russian collusion seen to date: Team Hillary’s purchase of a bogus anti-Trump dossier developed with Russian sources, along with her notorious involvement in the Uranium One deal. This transaction secured for the Kremlin 20 percent of America’s uranium supply in exchange for $145 million in donations to the Clinton Foundation.
All told, the Democrats are the Party of No.
Democrats will have real trouble next November telling voters how Donald J. Trump triggered what Nancy Pelosi calls “Armageddon,” even as their taxes drop, their wages climb, and bonus checks swell their bank accounts.
“We’re going to win so much,” candidate Trump said in May 2016, “you’re going to be so sick and tired of winning, you’re going to come to me and go, ‘Please, please, we can’t win anymore.’”
None of these incredible gains has made anyone ill or exhausted — so far. Still, thanks to President Donald J. Trump’s leadership, and the support of the Republican Congress, 2017 turned out to be one hell of a winning year.
— Deroy Murdock is a New York–based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor with National Review Online.