Politics

Congress Should Give Trump a $10 Billion Stimulus Payment to Resign

Nixon is shown in black and white waving to a crowd from the steps of the Marine One presidential helicopter.
Richard Nixon leaves the White House after resigning the presidency on Aug. 9, 1974.
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

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Here’s Donald Trump, at Tuesday’s White House press conference, saying he was going to put a hold on the money the U.S. pays to the World Health Organization.

And we’re going to put a hold on money spent to the WHO. We’re going to put a very powerful hold on it, and we’re going to see. 

Here’s Trump later at that same press conference:

Q: Thanks. A quick follow-up on that. So is the time to freeze funding to the WHO during a pandemic of this magnitude?

THE PRESIDENT: No, maybe not. I mean, I’m not saying I’m going to do it, but we’re going to look at it.

Q: You did say that you’re going to —

THE PRESIDENT: We give a tremendous —

Q: You said you’d put a hold on it.

THE PRESIDENT: No, I didn’t. 

Great, great; good work by the president’s brain, there. Elsewhere in the news, Trump is on a spree of firing inspectors general, who are the internal government auditors assigned with reporting on corruption and incompetence. (“Whoops”— the guy who came up with a system in which the only thing stopping the president from firing the people who hold him accountable is a sense of personal shame.) He’s announced that he is against proposals to allow voting by mail in November, when coronavirus will at best be contained but still liable to cause flare-up outbreaks, for the explicit reason that it will be bad for Republicans. His administration is seizing shipments of coronavirus-related medical supplies, ostensibly with the purpose of distributing them more efficiently, except the person in charge of the distribution is the president’s zero-qualification son-in-law, who was widely considered to be comically out of his depth in his previous job as the figurehead owner of a small-circulation weekly newspaper.

Any sustainable and humane process of lifting the ongoing national shutdown will depend on a regime of widespread testing and targeted quarantines being administered competently. Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, are figuring out what conditions they want to attach to an urgently needed infusion of funds for the small-business bailout program. And is there really any doubt that the single most effective way to spend government money right now, in terms of future lives saved, would be an upgrade at the position of head administrator? None of the skills necessary for managing the crisis—attention to detail, ability to balance competing priorities, concern for the well-being of other people, remembering what happened yesterday—have ever been among Donald Trump’s strengths, and he’s visibly spiraling further and further away from having them. He is not going to get better, and the job is not going to get less demanding.

So why not try offering him a payment to go away now, rather than leaving him to stumble over body bags for nine more months until Inauguration Day? Ten billion dollars might do the trick, especially for someone whose hotel properties are bleeding money under the total business shutdown he and the coronavirus combined to inflict on the country. Officially, it would be his own decision, one last great act of being in charge and making deals ($11 billion? You got it, sir!).

And then he’d be gone. Think of how big the upgrade from “man whose management experience took place for pretend, on TV” to “man whose management experience took place in Indiana” would be, even if the latter experience was had by Mike Pence! Pence’s own accomplishments in the public health field are pretty bleak, but even Donald Trump recognized he made a more plausible crisis manager than Trump himself. The first things Pence would do, probably, would be to fire Jared Kushner and stop making personal attacks on Democratic governors.

Imagine how much just those two things would help! Ten billion dollars would be a bargain.

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