The Big Lie(s)

Right off the bat, let’s acknowledge that Donald Trump has kept some of his campaign promises: he pulled out of TPP, the Paris Accord, and the Iran deal; he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; he started up a trade war with China; and he’s nominated lots of conservative judges. There are probably a few other small things too.

That’s not the worst record in the world for a politician. But Trump keeps claiming that he’s kept lots of other promises too, and an awful lot of people seem to buy it. If you look a little closer, though, “Promises Kept” is yet another Trump lie.

As Matt Yglesias points out, Trump didn’t just promise to build a wall on the Mexican border. He promised to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. That was a lie, and one that he’s never even tried to make good on.

Ditto for tax cuts. He didn’t just promise a big corporate tax cut, he promised to raise taxes on the rich. That was another lie.

Nor did he promise merely to repeal Obamacare, he promised to replace it with something better and cheaper for everyone. Yet another lie.

He promised to break up big banks. He promised price controls on prescription drugs. He promised to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. He promised that he was committed to upholding clean air and clean water goals. He promised a $1 trillion infrastructure package. He promised $20 billion toward funding charter schools. He promised bigger tax deductions for childcare and eldercare. He promised new ethics reforms. He promised to introduce a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on Congress. He promised a federal hiring freeze. He promised to label China a currency manipulator. He promised a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying for foreign governments. He promised to bring manufacturing jobs back.

Some of these were probably lies that he never intended to follow up on in the first place. Some were things he just forgot about. Some he changed his mind about. And some he tried to implement by, say, writing a few words on Twitter, but never anything more.

This isn’t just partisan nitpicking. These are all real things that Trump promised and that people voted for. The problem is that no one cares. Republicans don’t care because they got a big tax cut and a lot of conservative judges, and that’s all they really wanted anyway. The press doesn’t care because they figure that all presidents fail on lots of things. And liberals are so inured to Trump lying about everything that it’s hard to care all that much about this stuff.

But just for the record: He didn’t try to make Mexico pay for a wall. He didn’t propose a health care program that would be great for everyone. He didn’t raise taxes on the rich. He didn’t introduce price controls on prescription drugs. He didn’t propose a $1 trillion infrastructure program. He did nothing on childcare. He did nothing on ethics reform. He did nothing on troop withdrawals.

Those are all things he promised to the ordinary folks who voted for him. But they were lies. He never seriously intended to follow through on any of them.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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