Saturday, July 21, 2018
Politics

As Trump is learning, it's not so easy to reject the president's paycheck

The government owes Donald Trump.

Right about now, the 45th president is due to receive his first paycheck, part of a $400,000 annual salary delivered in monthly installments.

But the billionaire said during the campaign that he wouldn't take the pay. Is he backsliding on a promise?

The White House says no, but things are more complicated.

"He is required to get a paycheck but will be giving it back to (the) treasury or donating," spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in email, adding that the staff was trying to determine the legal process to do so.

She declined to answer several inquiries into whether Trump has gotten a paycheck already, which would be about $33,333. In addition to the $400,000, a president is afforded a $50,000 expense account.

"I won't take even one dollar," Trump declared in September 2015. "I am totally giving up my salary if I become president."

He can't do that. Article II of the Constitution requires a president to be paid:

"The President shall, at stated times, receive for his services, a compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them."

So Trump tweaked his promise. He now says he'll accept $1 — and it has added to his populist appeal.

Trump supporters say the move deserves more attention especially now as his travel costs have dominated headlines. Trump's visits to his Palm Beach estate, Mar-a-Lago, have cost taxpayers an estimated $10 million already.

"He's obviously a billionaire and this is pocket change to him," said Ralph Jones, 80, of Brooksville, who appreciates Trump's focus on the cost of government. "It's a good symbolic gesture."

Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union, a group that focuses on federal spending, said it gives the public something to relate to.

"Ask an average citizen whether $10 billion is too much or too little to pay for an aircraft carrier. Ask them if $400,000 is too much or too little to pay the president and they definitely have an answer."

Trump wouldn't be the first president to give away his pay. John F. Kennedy, also a wealthy man when he took office, donated his to charity. Herbert Hoover, also rich, gave his away as well. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a multimillionaire, eschewed the $130,000 salary.

In a way, Trump is like George Washington. The nation's first president said he would not take pay for the job, just as he had as commander of the Continental Army.

"When I was first honored with a call into the service of my country, then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contemplated my duty required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation," Washington said in his inaugural address of 1789. "From this resolution I have in no instance departed."

But Congress pointed to a higher power: the Constitution.

Contact Alex Leary at [email protected] Follow @learyreports.

Comments
Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

Tampa Bay and Florida businesses expect tariffs to drive prices up

TAMPA — Tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and other countries are beginning to push up prices and depress demand in spots around the Tampa Bay area and Florida, business executives say."We’ve definitely seen that the tariffs have increased ...
Published: 07/20/18
March column: Is Congressional District 16 more flippable? What about District 15?

March column: Is Congressional District 16 more flippable? What about District 15?

In the wake of good fundraising news for Democrat David Shapiro, who is running against Rep. Vern Buchanan in Congressional District 16, political analysts are upping their odds of Shapiro’s winning. But what about Congressional District 15, where Re...
Published: 07/20/18
Trump says he’d have no problem beating former VP Biden in 2020

Trump says he’d have no problem beating former VP Biden in 2020

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump said in an interview broadcast Thursday that running against Joe Biden in 2020 would be "a dream," claiming that Barack Obama "took him out of the garbage heap" to make him his running mate in 2008.Trump was asked ...
Published: 07/19/18
At St. Pete rally, protesters call Trump’s remarks on Russia ‘treason’

At St. Pete rally, protesters call Trump’s remarks on Russia ‘treason’

ST. PETERSBURG — Linda and Jack Miller braved the humidity at Demens Landing on Wednesday night for a simple reason: "Treason," said Linda Miller, 66. The St. Petersburg couple joined more than 100 protesters toting signs, pins and megaphones...
Published: 07/18/18
Updated: 07/19/18
Meet the man who might have brought on the age of ‘downloadable guns’

Meet the man who might have brought on the age of ‘downloadable guns’

During the summer of 2012, Cody Wilson hung around J&J, a car-repair shop run by two "goofy" guys in their late 20s. The Austin warehouse was crowded with engine blocks, car parts and Pelican boxes that never seemed to have been opened, but the 24-ye...
Published: 07/18/18
‘She was like a novelty’: How alleged Russian agent Maria Butina gained access to elite conservative circles

‘She was like a novelty’: How alleged Russian agent Maria Butina gained access to elite conservative circles

WASHINGTON - For nearly five years, the young Russian political-science student was an unusual fixture at the most important events of the U.S. conservative movement.Maria Butina, who was indicted this week on charges of being a covert Russian agent,...
Published: 07/18/18
PolitiFact: Fact-checking the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit

PolitiFact: Fact-checking the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit

President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin made inaccurate statements to the media following their one-on-one talks in Helsinki about election meddling, global terrorism and nuclear nonproliferation.Here’s a rundown of our fact-checks.Trump:...
Published: 07/17/18
Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values

Obama gives Trump sharp rebuke in Mandela address on values

JOHANNESBURG — Former U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday took aim at "strongman politics" in his highest-profile speech since leaving office, urging people around the world to respect human rights and other values now under threat in an imp...
Published: 07/17/18
Romano: Excuse me Gov. Scott, but you’re a hypocrite

Romano: Excuse me Gov. Scott, but you’re a hypocrite

Hypocrisy, thy name is Rick Scott.And, yes, I owe Shakespeare an apology.But I think Florida’s governor owes all of us an apology.This isn’t about one man’s opinion, and it isn’t about philosophical differences. This is about a politician who is publ...
Published: 07/17/18
Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

HELSINKI — Standing next to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, President Donald Trump openly questioned his own intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Moscow was to blame for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election to Trump’s benefit and seemed to accept Putin’s i...
Published: 07/16/18