How Trump Changed America, World in 2018

By Petr Svab

News Analysis

President Donald Trump has had a bustling year, pushing his agenda on almost every front, and reshaping the world in the process. Be it the economy, domestic issues, or foreign policy, Trump has left his mark over the past 12 months.

Economy

While Trump’s tax cuts and deregulation started in his first year in office, it was in 2018 when he reaped his rewards. Unemployment has dropped to the lowest levels since the 1960s, while wages increased by 3.1 percent, a decade’s record. There are about a million more job openings than there are people who are considered unemployed.

The economy grew at an annual pace of 3.5 percent in the third quarter, after the blockbuster 4.2 percent in the second quarter. Only twice since 2006 has the gross domestic product increased faster over half a year.

The optimistic record is stained somewhat by a dramatic slump in the stock market at the end of the year, which Trump blamed on the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates too fast.

Supreme Court

Trump’s perhaps most significant victory was also one that was most bitterly opposed. In July, he nominated prominent conservative jurist Brett Kavanaugh for a Supreme Court seat vacated by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was considered a swing vote. Aside from some hecklers and dispute over documents, he cruised unscathed through his four days of confirmation hearings in early September. Then, all hell broke loose.

One after another, several women came forward, accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assaults dating back to his student years. None of the allegations was supported by evidence, and Kavanaugh categorically denied them all. Yet, legacy media filled the airwaves with breathless coverage of the accusations, with barely any airtime devoted to the contradictions in and outlandishness of some of the claims.

CNN used the word “rape” in association with Kavanaugh 191 times in 18 days, the Media Research Center reported.

Trump didn’t yield in his support for Kavanaugh, though. After the Senate confirmed the nomination on Oct. 6, Trump apologized to Kavanaugh and the new justice’s family for how they were treated.

On Nov. 3, the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee released a 414-page report that cleared Kavanaugh of the allegations.

Midterm Push

Trump made an extraordinary effort to aid GOP candidates in the midterm elections, holding 26 rallies between Oct. 1 and Nov. 5, and nine in the final four days before the election. Of the 11 candidates he campaigned with over the last week, nine won.

Republicans still lost the House of Representatives, but by a smaller margin than Democrats in the first midterms of Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

On the other hand, the GOP strengthened its majority in the Senate and weeded out through retirements some of the lawmakers most opposed to Trump. That’s expected to make for smoother confirmations of his judicial and other appointments.

Judiciary

Speaking of appointments, Trump had 66 of his federal court picks confirmed in 2018, compared to 49 in Obama’s second year.