Declining salary does us no favors

By Martin Graham -

As we approach the inauguration of the 45th President Donald Trump, people continue to commend him on his decision to not take any pay for the position, but I strongly disagree.

The way Trump handled the election was not very presidential. He was not polite or classy like President Barack Obama and had been insulting others on his way into the position of president since day one. Even if he becomes the president people think he is destined to become, I think handling yourself with grace and dignity should be paramount in that position because of the impact that person can have worldwide. So initially when I heard he was not going to take the $400,000 salary set aside for the President of the United States, I was excited that if he did a bad job at least he didn’t get paid for it.

Upon reflection though that might not be as good of an act as people think. The simple reason is because those who work for money, regardless of how they feel about their own employer, have a responsibility to them and will make their work decisions based upon how their company would like them to act. This is the reason you go to work everyday you are scheduled, why you complete your work within deadlines set, and treat co-workers with a shred of respect at the least. This is part of the unspoken contract (and in cases written) between employers and employees, and comes back to you, the employee, as a salary, hourly pay or however you are compensated for your time at work.

Trump cannot refuse his salary for the position regardless. U.S. Code Title 3, Chapter 2, section §102 states “The President shall receive in full for his services during the term for which he shall have been elected compensation in the aggregate amount of $400,000 a year, to be paid monthly, and in addition an expense allowance of $50,000 to assist in defraying expenses relating to or resulting from the discharge of his official duties. Any unused amount of such expense allowance shall revert to the Treasury pursuant to section 1552 of title 31, United States Code. No amount of such expense allowance shall be included in the gross income of the President. He shall be entitled also to the use of the furniture and other effects belonging to the United States and kept in the Executive Residence at the White House.”

The salary will be paid, or be made available, to him regardless of his choice and he would have to claim that income on his taxes. Trump, as the smart man he is painted as, would not let $400,000 just sit and tax him, or if he would I think that is a terrible decision. He could, as some other past presidents have done, donate this money to charity. According to an article on, both John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover donated the entirety of their salary to charity and even President Obama gave 5 percent back to the treasury to help during the government shutdown that impacted the pay of federal workers. I could even make a case for him to send it to Fayette County.

But who am I to worry ? When he also has a traveling account of, “…not exceeding $100,000 per annum,” and can spend it “…in the discretion of the President.” (U.S. Code Title 3, Chapter 2, §103). And some online sources even suggest that he even has about $19,000 in entertainment expenses.

All this being said, if Trump manages to find a way to not be compensated for the position (even though I think he should donate most, if not all, to charity), how can we expect him to follow the will of his employer? The American people are his employer and by not taking money from us as pay for a job well done, how can we expect him to do a good job? If your trash man started taking your trash for free, you would still expect him to take all of your trash. He no longer has an obligation to take it all though and you would begin to see his performance at the job decline, meaning more trash on your lawn and vermin in your backyard.

So continue to praise him, though refusing the president’s salary is not really something he can or will do. One thing I am certainly glad to know from my research though, Trump has to pay and show his taxes when he is president.

By Martin Graham

Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy

Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy