For President Donald J. Trump, 2017 concludes unlike how it commenced.
Huge distractions arrived early, 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. He has navigated these and other troubled waters and defied his liberal and conservative critics. As he puts it: "We are compiling a long and beautiful list" of achievements.
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. Beyond taxes, per se, TCJA also secures free-market priorities in energy, healthcare, and school choice.
• TCJA permits petroleum development among 2,000 acres of the 19-million-acre Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve. 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 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.
• 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."
• "This will not be quick," Obama predicted about defeating ISIS in July 2015. "This is a long-term campaign."
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. advisors 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 up 25 percent since Trump's swearing-in. The 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.
Democrats will have trouble next November telling voters how 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."
None of these incredible gains has made anyone ill so far. Still, thanks to President Trump's leadership, and the support of the Republican Congress, 2017 turned out to be one hell of a winning year.
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