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At 2-Year Mark, Trump Says He's Done More Than He's Promised


Sunday marks the second anniversary of President Trump's inauguration. And it's no surprise he has an expansive view of his accomplishments.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I have actually done more than I promised. We've done a lot.

INSKEEP: Working with Congress, the president did increase the military budget as promised. Other promises haven't come through. A promised trillion-dollar infrastructure program has not materialized. A promised ban on Muslims entering the country had to be drastically narrowed to survive court challenges. A review by NPR's Scott Horsley finds many other promises somewhere between mission accomplished and mission forgotten.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: No promise from the Trump campaign stands higher than his border wall - a gleaming, new barrier along the U.S. border with Mexico.


TRUMP: We're going to have a wall. We're going to have a barrier. We're going to have something that's going to be very strong.

HORSLEY: Two years in, President Trump has not built a wall. And Mexico certainly hasn't paid for one. But the president is willing to shut down a quarter of the government to show he's trying. And Andrew Selee of the Migration Policy Institute says the president has pursued other get-tough measures on both legal and illegal immigration.

ANDREW SELEE: We've never had a president who's focused so much attention on immigration policy and so uniformly in the direction of trying to reduce the number of people coming here and remove those who are here illegally.

HORSLEY: Trump has slashed the number of refugees entering the country, tried to revoke temporary status for the DREAMers and, after a few rewrites, he ultimately won approval for his travel ban. On trade, the president has renegotiated NAFTA as he promised, pulled out of a big Asia-Pacific trade deal and he's trying to drive a hard bargain with China.


TRUMP: We're doing trade deals that'll get - going to get you so much business, you're not even going to believe it.

HORSLEY: Congress still has to ratify the new NAFTA deal, though. And an agreement with China remains far from certain. Trump also delivered on his promised tax cut, which has contributed to faster economic growth. Analysts disagree about whether that growth is sustainable or merely a temporary sugar high.

But there's no question the cut has reduced government revenue. Marc Goldwein of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says that's one factor in the ballooning deficit - expected to hit a trillion dollars this year.

MARC GOLDWEIN: You know, we heard some people claim these tax cuts are going to pay for themselves. Certainly, they haven't to date, and there's no evidence they will in the future.

HORSLEY: As promised, Trump has promoted fossil fuels. And last year, the U.S. became the world's largest oil producer. Coal consumption, however, continues to shrink. And while the president keeps chipping away at the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, Drew Altman of the Kaiser Family Foundation says Trump has yet to deliver on his promise to repeal and replace.

DREW ALTMAN: The core of the ACA is still standing. It's still there. And politically, the law's more popular than it has been.

HORSLEY: Trump is also pushing ahead with his promise to roll back regulations, though some of those moves are likely to be tied up in court. And speaking of court, Trump continues to put his stamp on the federal bench, having seated not only two Supreme Court justices but 30 judges on the Court of Appeals - more than any other president at this point in his term.

Russell Wheeler, who monitors judicial appointments at the Brookings Institution, says most of the appellate seats Trump is filling were already occupied by Republican appointees. So the president's not so much building a new conservative court as locking one in for years to come.

RUSSELL WHEELER: Now obviously, you know, if you replace a 70-year-old sort of slightly-to-the-right appellate judge with a 45-year-old firebrand conservative, then you're not trading apples for apples.

HORSLEY: Wheeler says Trump is not likely to have so many appeals court vacancies to fill in the second half of his term. But the appointments he's already made will be delivering on the president's promises long after Trump leaves office. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOUSE ON THE KEYS' "REFLEXION") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.
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