Monday, April 3, 2017 at 8:52 AM

Trump, Jared, and Ivanka Forgoing Salaries Is Just Another Bait and Switch

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Presidential daughter Ivanka Trump said Wednesday she will take a formal White House position without pay but will be subjected to federal ethics rules.

Her official title will be assistant to the president; her husband, Jared Kushner, has the title of senior adviser, and also does not get paid.

(USA Today, March 29, 2017)

First, President Trump made a show of forgoing his salary ($400k). Then Jared did the same ($175-200k). Now Ivanka is following suit. Mind you, given their job performances to date, the American people are getting exactly what they’re paying for.

This is especially the case with Jared. After all, Trump has appointed him a jack-of-all-portfolios – from roving adviser and diplomat to czar for “reinventing government” and brokering peace in the Middle East. But Jared is master of none of them.

Ivanka seems equally out of her depth as her Daddy’s special assistant … on everything. This was thrown into comic relief two weeks ago. That’s when a photo of her and German Chancellor Angela Merkel went viral. For it showed Merkel throwing shade on Ivanka as she presumed to hold forth during a US-German summit at the White House.

Not to mention that Trump’s anti-women and reverse Robin-Hood policies, to say nothing of his childish tweets, are exposing the hollowness of Ivanka’s purported influence on him. But the media are hardly reporting on her failure to exert any enlightening or moderating influence on this clueless buffoon masquerading as president of the United States.

For his part, Trump’s spectacular failures are duly exposing the hollowness of his boasts about being a master leader and negotiator. In this case, the media are in a feeding frenzy. Their reporting was particularly ravenous ten days ago. That’s when members of his own Republican Party torpedoed the bill he was championing to repeal and replace Obamacare.

In any event, Trump’s spinmeisters are asserting that the country should be grateful for his, Jared, and Ivanka’s sacrifice. Never mind that public-spirited people are usually the ones who are grateful for the honor of serving their country, especially in the White House.

Leona Helmsley famously quipped that only little people pay taxes. Evidently Trump agrees, gloating as he has about paying virtually no income taxes over the past 10 years. But I suspect the country would gladly pay his salary in full in exchange for him paying his taxes in full (and releasing his tax returns – as every presidential candidate in modern times has done).

Incidentally, Congress should pass a law requiring all federal employees to take their salaries. Because it’s a patent insult for rich people to pretend they’re doing the American people a favor by forgoing theirs. The government that pays defense contractors $100,000 for a toilet can easily pay their salaries.

More to the point, though, it’s hardly a sacrifice if the members of this nepotistic triumvirate forgo hundreds of thousands in government salaries only to use their positions to generate hundreds of millions in private revenues. This is a bait and switch worthy of the Art of the Steal.

For example, Trump has made it shamefully clear that the best way to curry favor with his administration is to stay at one of his hotels or, better still, buy one of his condominiums. Therefore, everyone from American bankers to Russian Oligarchs and Saudi royals will be vying to just that. In return, they’ll expect access worth millions, if not billions, in everything from regulatory concessions to sanctions relief and security guarantees, respectively.

For the record, it would be no stretch for any of them to spend enough during a one-week stay at Trump’s DC hotel to cover the annual salary he made such a show of forgoing.

Meanwhile, the price gouging Trump has already instituted only hints at how much he intends to use his presidency to enrich his family, friends, and cohorts.

The Trump-owned Mar-a-Lago resort raised its initiation fee to $200,000 this month, double the cost from a year ago. …

Members already enjoyed a slew of posh oceanside benefits, from tennis courts to private pools with cabanas. For the next four years, they’ll get another perk — access to what Trump has called the Winter White House.

(CNN Money, January 26, 32017)

Trump spent the past eight years criticizing Obama for “wasting taxpayers’ money” on personal travel, especially to play golf. He even vowed he would be so committed to working for the American people that, if elected president, he would never leave the White House. But none of the above even hints at the hypocrisy inherent this:

Barely a month into the Trump presidency, the unusually elaborate lifestyle of America’s new first family is straining the Secret Service and security officials, stirring financial and logistical concerns in several local communities, and costing far beyond what has been typical for past presidents — a price tag that, based on past assessments of presidential travel and security costs, could balloon into the hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of a four-year term. …

Trump’s three Mar-a-Lago trips since the inauguration have probably cost the federal treasury about $10 million. …

This month, the Post reported that Secret Service and US Embassy staffers paid nearly $100,000 in hotel-room bills to support Eric Trump’s trip to promote a Trump-brand condo tower in Uruguay.

(Washington Post, February 16, 2017)

Remarkably, many seem inured to Trump’s hypocrisy, and he’s clearly banking on this. But it bears stressing that this richest president in US history made quite a show of complaining about how much the poorest one was costing taxpayers. Moreover, given all of his talk about cutting government waste, the hypocrisy of Trump now costing the government more than any president (by “yuge” amounts) seems pathological.

In fact, as of this writing, Trump has spent nine weekends in a row wasting taxpayers’ money on personal travel to one or another of his resorts, where he spends as much time promoting sales as he does playing golf. By comparison, at this point in his presidency, Obama had yet to play a single round of golf.

In so many ways, Trump’s presidency is already descending into a money pit. For example, reports are that each of his weekend trips costs taxpayers between $1-3 million. And, adding insult to this galling profligacy, taxpayers are paying him for accommodations every time he forgoes staying at the White House or the presidential retreat at Camp David to stay at one of his own residences.

The Post famously reported that the cost of just two of his weekend trips would fund the annual budget for the Interagency Council on Homelessness. It is just one of the many welfare and educational programs Trump intends to cut in his Marie-Antoinette effort to tighten the federal budget. Never mind the incomprehensible stupidity of poor whites – who benefit most from these programs – actually hailing him for doing so.

That said, I shall spare you a full rant on Trump trying to ensure that every legislation – most notably on tax reform but even on healthcare reform – provides financial perks for rich folks like him. I’ll suffice to note that, in each case, the value of those perks would make the salaries he, Jared, and Ivanka are forgoing look paltry by comparison.

Trump is a brazen shyster. Unfortunately, his election proved that far too many Americans are suckers who blissfully defied my warning in “Trump for President? Don’t Be a Sucker,” April 8, 2011. But it does not bode well that this bait and switch with salaries is only the latest example of his intent to play them as such — for all it’s worth.

Apropos of this, much is being made of the editorial in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times titled “Our Dishonest President.” It includes this wistful lament:

Nothing prepared us for the magnitude of this train wreck.

Except that my April 2011 commentary was the first of many that tried to do just that.

UPDATE

Trump donates to National Park Service

April 4

Mere hours after publishing my original commentary, White House press secretary Sean Spicer made a show of presenting the first installment ($78,333) of Trump’s annual salary ($400k) to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for the National Park Service.

Unfortunately, it did not occur to any member of the press summoned for this Trump-aggrandizing spectacle to ask Zinke how he felt about being used as a PR prop for this patent bait and switch. After all, even if Trump had donated his entire salary, it would hardly compensate for the $1 billion he plans to cut from the National Park Service to help fund more tax breaks for rich folks like him. Such breaks could amount to Trump fleecing the American people, through the IRS, of millions each year.

Frankly, there was more honor in Bernie Madoff making a show of donating millions to his clients’ charities while actively embezzling billions from those very same clients.

Related commentaries:
Trump for pres? Don’t be a sucker
Trump’s three-card monte
Madoff

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