Monday, April 3, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He donated his first paycheck to the National Parks Service.

Trump made the donation in partial (belated) fulfillment of a promise to donate his presidential salary. This in turn was part of a campaign to deflect attention away from the many conflicts of interest and profit opportunities the presidency offers Trump, whose hundreds of businesses make deals with foreign governments as well as Trump's own administration.

The donation of $78,333, ceremonially presented by press secretary Sean Spicer, was earmarked for the National Park Service, which is part of the Department of the Interior. Trump has proposed an 11.7% cut to that department, of which the NPS budget is approximately 25.5%. The department's overall 2015 budget was $12.25 billion, meaning that if the cuts are enacted across the board, Trump proposes to cut NPS funding by about $334,000,000, or 4,264 times the amount of Trump's salary donation. 

Trump's annual salary is $500,000. Put in terms of Trump's other profit streams, that is the cost of 2.5 memberships to his Mar-a-Lago club (which doubled in price after Trump took office), or about one-sixth the cost of each of his near-weekly trips there.

So what?

  • A president who proposes to give an agency $1 and then take away $4,265 probably shouldn't try to take credit for his generosity.