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Four years in, Donald Trump has plenty of unfinished business

Trump pushed through the most significant overhaul of the U.S. tax system since President Ronald Reagan. Trump, as he said he would, tilted the Supreme Court further to the right with confirmation of two conservative justices and likely a third, Amy Coney Barrett, in the coming days.

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Donald Trump MSNBC

President Donald Trump swept into office nearly four years ago as an outsider who promised to get things done quickly on behalf of the American people through sheer force of will and unrivaled knowledge about the art of the deal.

He has checked off some items on his to-do list.

Trump pushed through the most significant overhaul of the U.S. tax system since President Ronald Reagan. Trump, as he said he would, tilted the Supreme Court further to the right with confirmation of two conservative justices and likely a third, Amy Coney Barrett, in the coming days. His promise to get tough on illegal immigration has resulted in a surge in migrant apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border.

But Trump has also faced the same hard truth that each of his White House predecessors learned: Governing is rarely easy.

A look at some of the presidents unfinished business as he asks voters for a second term in the White House:

HEALTH CARE

Trump has managed to undermine President Barack Obamas health care law, but has fallen far short of his promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

His administration has managed to dismantle parts of the law. Enrollment periods have been shortened, some subsidies were ended and the individual mandate — the fine for people without health insurance — has been eliminated.

Trump says he’s still focused on replacing the with something much better and much less expensive. He said in an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes that it will be so good if the Supreme Court puts an end to Obamacare when the justices hear challenges to it next month.

The number of uninsured Americans has risen under Trump’s watch. According to Census Bureau data released last month, nearly 30 million people in the U.S. lacked coverage at some point during 2019, about 1 million more than in the previous year.

ENDLESS WARS

Trump has made only modest progress toward meeting his 2016 pledge to bring home all troops from what he calls Americas endless wars.

When Trump took over the White House, the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan stood at about 8,400, and there were about 6,800 troops in Iraq.

Within a year, the number of troops in Afghanistan climbed to about 15,000. Trump approved commanders requests for additional troops to reverse setbacks in the training of Afghan forces, fight an increasingly dangerous Islamic State group and put enough pressure on the Taliban to force it to the peace table.

In February, the U.S. and the Taliban signed an agreement that calls for the eventual complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

With an eye toward the election, Trump has accelerated his push to bring troops home, teasing that all U.S. troops could be out of Afghanistan by the end of the year.

Pentagon officials said the number of troops in Afghanistan will drop to 4,500 in November. But defense officials insist there are no plans to have all troops home from Afghanistan by the end of the year. U.S. officials also say there currently is no approved plan to reduce the number to 2,500 by early next year. The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

In Iraq, the number of U.S. troops has dipped from about 5,000 to roughly 3,000, although officials say the number fluctuates higher as units rotate in and out.

THE WALL

During his 2016 primary run, Trump sought to mark his ground as a hard-line immigration enforcer who would build a great, great wall on our southern border.

And I will make Mexico pay for that wall, Trump said as he launched his run for the White House in June 2015. Mark my words.

Nearly four years later, Trump still has work to do completing his wall and much that has been completed has been paid by U.S. taxpayers despite promises otherwise.

The presidents administration has promised to build 450 miles by the end of this year and has so far built 371. Trump has replaced hundreds of miles of old, worn-out barriers, meant only to stop cars, with tall, 30-foot fencing that is much harder to get over and impedes wildlife from crossing the border. Conservationists in Arizona, where a bulk of the building has taken place, say the new wall is detrimental to wildlife and the surrounding ecosystems.

Mexico has steadfastly refused to pay for the border wall, though Trump earlier this year suggested that the wall is being paid, in part, by remittances from Mexican immigrants working in the U.S.

To date, the money is coming from the U.S. Treasury, meaning todays taxpayers and the future ones who will inherit the federal debt. To the extent any people who came into the U.S. illegally are kicking in for the wall, its because theyre working and paying taxes like other workers.

Trump also freed up $3.6 billion for the wall last year by diverting money from military construction projects as well as $2.5 billion from approved counterdrug spending.

MIDEAST PEACE

Early in his presidency, Trump expressed confidence that his administration could broker a long-term peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. We will get it done, Trump declared in May 2017. He put his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner in charge.

Trump moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step that was cheered by Israelis and the presidents evangelical Christian supporters in the U.S. but angered Palestinian leaders. He scored a big win in recent weeks with the U.S. nudging Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates three Arab states to normalize relations with Israel.

The normalization of relations between Israel and the three Arab nations is certainly an important achievement. But the agreements between nations that have never been in direct conflict don’t meaningfully move the ball in achieving the large and long elusive goal of achieving peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

INFRASTRUCTURE

The White House’s multiple attempts to designate an infrastructure week each effort quickly eclipsed by other issues have become something of a running punchline in the administration.

In his 2016 victory speech, Trump said he would rebuild the nations highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools and hospitals, making American infrastructure second to none and putting millions to work in the process.

Nearly four years later, Trumps soaring rhetoric has failed to produce legislation.

In April 2019, Trump reached an agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to pursue a $2 trillion infrastructure plan. This March, he resurrected the idea for a VERY BIG & BOLD plan for infrastructure spending to help jolt the staggering economy after the coronavirus pandemic hit.

While Pelosi and Schumer again threw their support behind big infrastructure spending, Senate Republicans have bristled at deficit spending, and Trumps sales pitch has gone nowhere with his own party.

TRUMP’S TAXES

On the debate stage four year ago, Trump said his federal income taxes were under a routine audit but promised they would be released as soon as the IRS finished.

Four years later, Trump says the IRS still hasnt completed its work, and the president has yet to fulfill his promise to release his tax returns. No law prevents Trump from making his tax filings public while under audit.

Questions about Trump’s tax returns and his broader financial situation have only grown following revelations that he is personally liable for more than $400 million in debt. That sort of debt load, ethics experts say, raises concerns he could be manipulated to sway U.S. policy by those to whom he’s indebted.

The New York Times reported last month that Trump’s debt includes more than $300 million in loans that will come due in the next four years.

Trump dismisses his debt load as a peanut compared with his assets.

The president is the only post-Watergate president not to release his tax returns.

World

25 Taliban militants killed in raid: Afghan Army

The ANDSF also destroyed six militants’ hideouts and 25 defence positions, defusing four improvised bombs during the raid in the region 555 km southwest of Kabul.

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Kabul, Dec 5: At least 25 Taliban militants, including two commanders, were killed and eight others injured during a raid in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, the Army said on Saturday.

“The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) launched an operation in Naway-i-Barakzai of Helmand on Friday, leading to the above mentioned casualties,” Xinhua news agency quoted the Army’s Corps 215 Maiwand as saying in a statement.

The operation aimed at disturbing militants’ activities in the region as the militants tried to conduct attacks on ANDSF positions.

The ANDSF also destroyed six militants’ hideouts and 25 defence positions, defusing four improvised bombs during the raid in the region 555 km southwest of Kabul.

The Taliban militant group is yet to comment on the development.

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Corrupt officials to be axed, not transferred: Imran Khan

“As a Prime minister, it is also easy for me to know which minister or department is working well and which bureaucrat is performing poorly,” he added.

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Imran Khan Pakistan PM

Islamabad, Dec 5 : Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that his government was introducing a new system of ‘reward and punishment under which civil servants would not be transferred but sacked if found involved in corruption and irregularities.

“We will not transfer a corrupt bureaucrat but will sack him,” Dawn news quoted Khan as saying on Friday said while addressing a ceremony held on completion of two years of Pakistan Citizen Portal at the Prime Minister House.

The Prime Minister lauded Pakistan Citizen Portal for entertaining three million complaints in two years, urging people to use the forum for their empowerment as well as to hold officers accountable.

“I want more people to use it (citizen portal). We will further strengthen the portal as it is the best method for citizens to register complaints.

“As a Prime minister, it is also easy for me to know which minister or department is working well and which bureaucrat is performing poorly,” he added.

Since its launch on October 28, 2018, around three million people registered themselves on the portal and reported 2.7 million complaints, out of which 2.5 million were resolved, according to official figures.

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Disaster

US sets record with 225,201 single-day Covid-19 cases

The country on Wednesday had set a world record of single-day case count, as 196,227 new cases were reported and hospitalizations exceeded 100,000 for the first time.

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RUSSIA CORONAVIRUS

Washington, Dec 5 : Setting a new grim record, the US reported 225,201 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the highest single-day spike since the onset of the pandemic in the country, currently the worst-hit in the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The new figure on Friday increased the overall caseload to 14,343,430, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update on Saturday.

In the same period, the country also reported 2,506 new fatalities, which increased the total coronavirus death toll to 278,605, according to the CSSE.

The two tallies are the highest in the world.

The country on Wednesday had set a world record of single-day case count, as 196,227 new cases were reported and hospitalizations exceeded 100,000 for the first time.

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