Trump Donated His Paycheck to the Government in a Meaningless PR Stunt

The donation to the National Park Service is good PR, but means nothing.

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Apr 3 2017, 9:30pm

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

On Monday, Trump did what he does best: play to the cameras. During Sean Spicer's daily hour of pain, also known as "press briefings," the White House press secretary announced that the president would donate his first quarter paycheck, $78,333.32, to the National Park Service. While that might seem like a sweet act of charity it's effectively pennies to a federal agency like the NPS, which has an annual budget of around $3 billion and a backlog of $11.9 billion of maintenance work the nation's parks need. Eighty grand is pennies compared to numbers like that—and Trump isn't interested in giving the NPS more than pennies.

Trump hasn't demonstrated a particular hostility to the NPS relative to other government agencies. Trump's hotly contested proposed budget would cut the budget of the Department of Interior, which oversees the NPS, by $2 billion, but it's unclear how the NPS will be affected by that. Trump certainly is not interested in attempting to fund the additional maintenance work the country's park need, and the federal hiring freeze instituted by Trump has the agency very worried about its future.

If Trump deserves any kudos at all it's for following through on his promise to donate his presidential paycheck—that's noteworthy because he hasn't always followed through on his charitable promises. But if he really wanted to support the National Parks, he would be working to make sure they were properly staffed. Or instead of donating one measly paycheck, Trump could figure out a way to get rich guys like him to pay their fair share of federal tax?

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