But those two facts don’t really reflect the administration’s record on those issues. It’s true that Mr. Trump signed a landmark conservation bill. But he has also stripped protections from more land and water than he has preserved, notably the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. And it’s true that workers are enjoying higher minimum wages. But that’s because activists have fought for state laws that raised the minimum wage, not because Mr. Trump did it. The federal minimum wage hasn’t budged in over a decade.
Facts are vital. But they are insufficient. A bit of context is usually required to produce the truth. For instance, Item No. 44 — “More than seven million jobs created since the election.” It’s true that the country had seven million more jobs in January of 2020 than existed in 2017, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. But anyone who credits Mr. Trump for creating seven million jobs ought to credit President Barack Obama with the eight million jobs created during the last three years of his administration.
A large swath of items on the list credit Mr. Trump for the booming economy, which is no longer booming, because of the coronavirus pandemic. Items No. 88 through No. 93 all relate to “lowest-ever unemployment” numbers — a stark illustration of just how much of the case for a Trump second term rested on cheerful economic figures that are no longer valid.
About a quarter of the items on the list relate to Mr. Trump signing bills that Congress passed, many of which he had nothing to do with. For instance, item No. 5 praises him for signing a law that legalized hemp. That’s true, but it was one small provision in a giant farm bill. How much credit does the president really deserve for that?
Item No. 1 lauds the president for giving federal recognition to the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Montana, a designation they have sought for more than a century. But when I called up Gerald Gray, chairman of the Little Shell Tribe, he told me that the credit goes to the two Montana senators, Jon Tester, a Democrat, and Steve Daines, a Republican, who managed to tuck the tribal designation provision into a massive military spending bill.
Item No. 15 lauds the administration’s efforts to make it possible for states to import cheaper medicine from Canada. Mr. Trump does deserve credit for using the bully pulpit of the presidency to highlight the unacceptably high cost of lifesaving medicine that Americans are forced to pay, compared to people in other countries. But what ever happened to his bold promise in 2016 to use the power of the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare patients? That was a great idea, which would have saved the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars. But he simply hasn’t done it. Despite tough tweets against drug companies, Mr. Trump hasn’t really taken them on. If he were serious about it, he would push Republicans in the Senate to support the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which Democrats in the House passed last year.
As I went down the list, I found genuine accomplishments. Several items related to the First Step Act criminal justice reform — a meaningful piece of legislation that shortens mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses, putting a dent in mass incarceration. The administration deserves credit for championing it, as does the bipartisan group of criminal justice reform advocates who have pushed for it for years.