Trump's Lost Opportunities, What Could Have Been


Trump will be gone in January. Close to half the nation will miss him or at least strongly preferred him over Biden. Let's discuss what might have been.

Lost Opportunity to Bring the Troops Home

Trump on many occasions threatened to bring all the troops home from Afghanistan and Syria.

I expected Trump to do so if for no reason other than an election ploy. He did not do so although he did reduce troops.

But reducing them is no big deal. 

Had Trump actually pulled all of them, as he should have, Biden would have had to go way out of his way and take lots of criticism to put them back.

There is still time for Trump to pull the troops, but will he?

Lost Opportunity to Pardon Snowden and Assange

As with pulling the troops, Trump can still do this, and he should, but I expect another lost opportunity.

There's an interesting article on ZeroHedge on this subject: Trump's Last Chance To Snub The Deep State

I am not the only one hoping that Donald Trump will do the right thing with Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden too. The last president, one Trump hates, first put Assange’s key whistleblower in prison, in isolation, under torture. Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years. Obama leaving office with a gesture of “goodwill”, commuted Chelsea’s sentence once she served seven years. She was later jailed for another year for not snitching on Julian.

Tulsi Gabbard, the only Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 who wasn’t a war hawk, is asking Trump for goodwill. She tweeted tagging Trump, “Since you’re giving pardons to people, please consider pardoning those who, at great personal sacrifice, exposed the deception and criminality of those in the deep state,” and named Assange and Snowden for him to drop charges.

If Trump did the honorable thing of halting the persecution of Julian Assange, it would be a blow for freedom and a middle finger to the Deep State including Obama and Clinton. Wasn’t Trump supposed to be the anti-Deep State candidate? Now’s his chance to prove it.

Is Trump anti-deep-state or not? 

Declassify Documents

Similarly, Trump has threatened on many occasions to declassify documents. 

Trump believes the documents in question will undermine the intelligence community's unanimous finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 race to help him win, by exposing so-called "deep state" plots against his campaign and transition during the Obama administration, according to multiple current and former officials.

Flashback May 2, 2019

Like, uh... how soon?

Lost Opportunity at the Fed

The idea for this post came from Climate Change Is the New Fed Mandate.

Trump nominated Judy Shelton for the Fed. He made an excellent choice. It's not that Shelton would have changed policy. Rather, Shelton, a pro-gold economist would have changed the discussion.

A couple of weak Republican senators would not vote for Shelton. But Trump never pressed the issue. Republicans still had the votes but one one of them got Covid due to carelessness and passage failed by a single vote.

Democrat Mark Kelly, defeated Republican Martha McSally in November's special Arizona election. On December 2, Kelly was sworn in.

There was an opportunity for Trump to press for Shelton between the election and December 2. That opportunity is lost and gone forever. 

Collective Bargaining and Bankruptcy Reform  

President Kennedy enabled collective bargaining of public unions by decree. That was the mother of all pension mistakes. 

Since then, much has been enshrined in law, so Trump could not reverse it by decree. 

However, he could have pushed for bankruptcy reform, national right to work legislation, etc. 

Perhaps he would have failed, but he never even tried. Why is that?

The answer is Trump cultivated a relationship with blue collar union workers. They would not like Trump championing anti-union policies. 

Ironically, Trump had some successes in this matter by nominating justices to the Supreme Court that will rule for businesses not unions. 

Deficit Spending and Balanced Budget

Trump wanted to shrink the deficit and balance the budget. 

What did he do when he had the chance? Did he even try?

No. Trump ridiculously proposed tariffs would pay down the national debt.

Tax Cuts

Trump passed tax cuts and promised more. There will not be tax cuts under Biden, that's for sure.  

The tax cuts were front loaded, added to the deficit, and primarily benefited the wealthy.

Republicans fiscal conservative hypocrites cheered. 

Trump's Wall 

I've looked at walls from both sides now, from in and out and still somehow, it's wall's illusions I recall, I really don't know walls at all.

The BBC comments on Trump's wall: How much has he actually built?

What Mr. Trump has actually built is far from what he promised at the start of his 2016 election campaign, when he pledged to build a concrete wall along the border's entire 2,000-mile length.

He later clarified that it would cover only half of that. And by the time of his State of the Union address in February this year, his pledge had been reduced to "substantially more than 500 miles" by January 2021.

As economist Milton Friedman explained, open borders are not compatible with free benefits.

And places like California offer massive amounts of free benefits. Illinois does so via massive untenable pensions for public union workers. 

While the vast majority of immigrants may want to come for economic opportunities, not free benefits, the fact remains free benefits are an enormous problem. 

Trump could not attack free benefits so he proposed a wall. 

And he could have had a wall. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer offered Trump $20 billion for a wall in return for a deal on "dreamers".

Trump turned it down.  

Trump was simply flat out wrong to oppose a deal regarding productive members of US society, many of whom have been here 10 years or more. 

It's one thing to want to turn off the spigot (for right or wrong reasons), it's another to boot productive people and separate parents from kids. 

Yes, Obama did the latter too. The spotlight is now on Biden.

Iran and Venezuela

The alleged master deal makers could not get Iran to the negotiation table via sanctions. 

Maduro is still in power despite Trump sanctions on Venezuela.

Millions have died in those countries due to limited availability to obtain food and medicine. These sanctions are acts of war. Period. And they are illegal. 

Some will disagree with my allegation of war. But no one can disagree with this: Trump said he would renegotiate a better deal with Iran. OK, 4 years are up. Where is it? 

Sanctions don't work. Meanwhile, Trump sent billions of dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia and looked away when the Saudi's devastated Yemen. 

US media gave Trump a pass on Venezuela, Iran, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. There is seldom a war the US media does not support. 

Trump is at war with Iran and failed to bring the troops home from anywhere.

War on Drugs

Hi Bob, consider it done. But let's change one word.

"If Trump supporters really cared about the war on drugs or libertarian ideals, they’d be demanding that the nearly half a million people currently in U.S. jails for drug offenses should be pardoned too." 

Trump has fought legalizing marijuana every step of the way. 

Note that the Trump Administration Intensifies War on Drugs by Taking on Marijuana Legalization and Supervised Consumption Sites

Trump also blames Biden for a policy that put millions of blacks in prison. 

That is accurate, and Biden admitted mistakes. But why didn't Trump rectify the problem?

Trump failed on both drug policy and prison reform.

Wake of the Election

Trump got the election he wanted: a referendum on himself.

In the wake of the election "Mr. Law and Order" actively encouraged governors to break the law in an effort to change the election. That alone should have caused supporters to stand up and notice.

A few like Governor Kemp and Chris Christie did notice, but it was mostly Republican silence with a lot of inane dissent that "Trump won".

I voted for Trump in 2016 but could no longer take it for many reasons, some mentioned above.

I voted for Jo Jorgensen and I am proud of my vote. 

Trump's Legacy

Trump's legacy will not be ending Obamacare, ending drug wars, getting the US out of Afghanistan, taming the deficit, reducing the trade imbalance, winning a fight against the deep state, or even building a wall.

Trump could have succeeded at least some of those things. 

Trump failed at all of them, not because of the deep state but because he is not the big deal maker he claims to be and his demands are always too one-sided. 

Heck, Trump failed at things he could have done alone: pardons, ending drug wars, and bringing all the troops home.

Both Sides Now

I understand why people like Trump and why others hate him. 

Many cannot figure this out, but Trump openly makes deeply controversial and polarizing claims on purpose. His supporters love it.

In general, Trump supporters feel he is some sort of deal-making hero who stands up to the deep state. 

But where's the evidence on deals? On deep state? On Libertarian ideals?

If you are a huge Trump fan who believes nearly everything he says, I have a favor to ask:

Look at Trump from both sides now, from win and lose and still somehow, it's Trump's illusions you should recall, you really don't know Trump at all.


Comments (67)
No. 1-30

Finally a balanced and good political article. Yes, he could have done more but he still did a lot. Is he the best? no but he s much better than the alternative. Unfortunately, we have only 2 to choose from. A vote for Jorgensen is a throw away vote.


Joking aside, trump lover or not, what actually has Trump achieve? Ok the tax cuts get that, but what else, that is substantive -- and lets be clear the tax cuts was the doing of the GOP with litle if any input from the WH. But still he was the president and it happened on his watch.

China -- not so much (maybe it will get better)
Europe -- bitches at everyone
NATO - maybe but again bitching and doing is not the same thing
NAFTA -- jury is still out there -- anyway it was due for a major revision but the new version is it any better
Relations with Europe -- Yep kind of damaged that --
Relations with the UK -- Boris is no big Trump lover
Social Security -- nothing
Supreme Court -- Got that done (5 to 3) but so far no help for Trump's pet projects
Medicaid -- nothing
Obamacare -- kind of killed it but didn't push very hard anyway

What else?


Oh and let's not forget the Wall: according to CBP a total of 460 miles were "built...aside from one problem, all but 9 miles were the replacement of the existing structure. So the border wall has not changed much eaither


Oh and let's not forget the Wall: according to CBP a total of 460 miles were "built...aside from one problem, all but 9 miles were the replacement of the existing structure. So the border wall has not changed much eaither


He could have easily won by being decent once or twice, about anything,


You mistake why Trump loves being in the office.

Guy who doesn't do job is fighting mightily to keep that job.

I wonder why?


How could anyone forget the master-stroke yesterday--an executive order requiring classical architecture for federal buildings.

Now that is brave and decisive leadership.

Lance Manly
Lance Manly

The worst was Iran and Venezuela sentencing millions to misery for nothing.
Shelton went from an interest rate hawk to a dove in order to get the nod from Trump. That made me queasy.
Declassifying? The reason why not is there was nothing there to vindicate him or else he would have done it. I hope all the documents get declassified in the future so we know the full story.


Trump is full of sound and fury signifying nothing. He is THE example of why governing is different than accidentally winning an election. Let's be honest, Trump achieved very little on ALL fronts. And I voted for him in 2016 with hope he would govern from the center. Unfortunately for other non-politicians, people will always point to Trump as the example of what happens when you elect a non-politician to the highest office in the country and possibly world. Too bad for all those other non-politicians who are thinking of running. It turns out running a government a little different than running a private sector glorified real estate LLC (in the case of Trump) or corporation. Trumpistas can think everyone was out to get their guy but the truth is he failed at basic governance which is why he is the thing most first term-presidents fear - being a one-term president.


Finally, there is no deep-state conspiracy or deep-state period. It is just a government. Many Trump supporters want no government at all because they think as long as they are fat, dumb and happy that somehow the world will be okay. How has that worked out ?



What is your issue with private sector unions? If we allow unions of capital (corporations) doesn't that require a counterweight in the form of a union of labor. Obviously under a true libertarian system limited liability corporations wouldn't exist and the issue would be moot. But once the government calls corporations into being by legislative fiat all bets are off, right?


Lost opportunites? this assumes Trump was capable of leading and wanted to roll up his sleaves. he's played golf virtually every weekend and spent more time tweeting and being on tivo than reading the daily pdb and being engaged on the issues. Trump thought the Presidency was a marketing an p.r. job and that's what we got. In the end the last four years went about as i thought. I thought it might actually be worse but i neglected to factor in his incompetence


First, I don’t believe Trump picked his cabinet. I think it was Charles Koch....after they made nice......right after the election.

Because the original Trump cabinet was Charlie’s wet dream.

The things they did matter....and what they did was to gut environmental controls, remake public schools to suit evangelical Republicans, gut consumer protection, boost oil and coal, and nukes, and give corporate business every tax break they even wildly dreamed of in past administrations.

On the Supreme Court...that was surely his biggest legacy, and it was primarily all about see how many Catholics it takes to unscrew a light bulb.....we’re up to seven of nine. We’ll see if that’s enough.

As far as being happy about having more conservative justices on the court? What exactly has that done for us?.....because we’ve been headed that way for a while. So far it’s gotten us Citizens United and it’s gotten the cops the right to seize our bank accounts without proof of a crime.

So pardon me If I don’t applaud....and since I’m pro-choice, I’m really not thrilled with Amy Coney Barrett, who is extreme in her religious and her legal views, imho. The other two aren’t that bad in my book. Way better than having a Barrett and a Scalia together.

I am NOT for open borders....but the wall was a farce from day one.....a campaign slogan....a really, really stupid idea. Big waste of money, ineffective, environmentally terrible....I could go on. And even though I’m not for open borders....deporting kids who lived here their whole Mexico...where some of them had no family and didn’t even speak the language....that’s actually pure human cruelty in action.....nothing else.

Immigration is a problem that won’t go away. Biden will get his chance. I don’t expect much good...but it’s hard to see how our policy could do much but improve, as it stands.

Trump never had a vision or a plan. He had an ego the size of New York City...that had been stroked by years of PLAYING a big exec on a fake TV show where the script always made him look good. It made him more delusional that he already was.....he thought he could just walk in and straighten everything right out. What a fine case of Dunning-Kruger effect.

We’ll be lucky if he doesn’t pull some half-assed attempt to declare himself President-for-Live.

It ain’t over.


He was very successful at spending taxpayer money at Trump businesses. A legacy that will continue given the cost of secret service protection.


Trump's biggest accomplishment was completely unintended and more valuable, long term, than any policy: The polarization between those who believe our country is "systemically racist" and requires a tearing down and "building back better" involving the redistribution of wealth along demographic lines versus those who believe there is nothing unequitable about the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Every American will have to answer this question in the next four years because it will most likely be posed to them in one form or another.


POOR, poor Assange , we almost forgot about him, didn t we, the ball in a outrageous game of disgusting politics by 'wounded' US agencies and pathetical subdues like the UK and Sweden, for exposing horrible warcrimes during decades long US regime change odysseys ! Like I said awful and DISGUSTING ! The Clinton bitch even wanted to missile the ecuadorian embassy to get rid of him, she would ve giggled like she did when Gadaffi was sodomised and murdered by her (and fckn Obama's) terrorist friends ! What a utterly repulsive nation you actually are, when one comes to think of it...


Good points. Also, big missed opportunity to hollow out the federal agencies, and generally terrible at appointing any effective person into the cabinet.


@Mish If the everything bubble pops in 2021 or 2022 and the dollar rises from the ashes, wouldn't you expect gold prices to drop significantly too? At least until Washington goes MMT nuclear.



Private sector unions are nowhere near as bad as public ones. They have a redeeming feature too, bankruptcy eventually hits as it did with GM.

But I have a huge problem with forcing people to be in a union against their will and yes that is what collective bargaining does.
Illinois took it to the extreme and lost in the Supreme Court.


That was much closer to the mark, at least up to the elections (because the evidence does need proper scrutiny). From where I'm looking Trump basically stabilised the US internationally, tamped down the aggressive attitude. The rest, the show, is just that and he is at least more forthright than other breeds of politician. I don't think the US will ever have a president who has free reign on own actions as president, even if entitled to those actions. Obviously many will disagree on the above for their variety of reasons, the view offered from the distance of not being a US citizen is always going to be something different.


tRump is the most successful American president ever: he has completely damaged the value system and constitutional framework that have defined the USA and made USA great. He has destroyed more than any founding father could never have imagined. Ever wondered what a Satan would do, just open your eyes and you see it everyday.


Pence--the VP leading the covid fight--addressing unmasked young conservatives packed indoor today, when it is becoming clear that the new mutation is much more transmissible and there is evidence of more illness in younger people.

Is that a problem or a feature of the Trump administration?


IMO Trump was right to hire Bannon and wrong to fire him. The candidate Trump was right on about issues. The President Trump went rudderless when he threw Bannon overboard. Clash of egos.

Dodge Demon
Dodge Demon

“More than any other time in history, mankind is at a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopeless. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the window to choose wisely.”

2016 election choices.


Sloppy Joe Bidet will not be President.


Trump is the Worst US President EVER! My condolences. Good luck trying to recover from the damage he inflicted on the country. Poor Biden has another tough job trying to clean up the mess he inherits.


I could never get past Trump pointing out the "big, fat, ugly bubble" in 2016 and then immediately changing his mind once he got into office. Suddenly it was the "greatest economy ever" and Trump whined about interest rates being too high (!) incessantly.

That betrayal overshadowed everything else. He was never serious about the MAGA rhetoric, he just realized it resonated with the public.


Russia hacked the U.S. government. Instead of responding and briefing the next administration Trump is plotting how to turn January 6th into a fiasco. Puts lost opportunities in perspective

Rocky Raccoon
Rocky Raccoon

I said six months into Trump's presidency as he appeared lazy too ready to head to the golf course (after promising us he wouldn't be playing golf) and playing on Twitter, history will show the Trump presidency to be a squandered opportunity to get the country back on the right track and reign in things like out of control deficits, massive unconstitutional big government, and even do something simple like fully repeal Obamacare.


he was never a populist. he has done Rethug orthodoxy with the crassness of not being a politician. You do not mention the mismanagement of the Covid 19 situation which borders on criminality with the deaths of approximately 326000Americans. it fits the Republican mantra of the best govt that governs least.

Global Economics