In March 2020, the COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic prompted many state and local governments to issue temporary orders imposing shelter-in-place, lockdown, and business closure restrictions in order to slow the spread of the virus. Many businesses that were shut down had to lay off workers, leaving some people facing a future without paychecks for an indefinite period of time.
Around that time a popular social media post circulated, attributing to U.S. President Donald Trump the sentiment that citizens should demand all holders of public office — at the federal, state, and local government levels — have their pay stopped in order to put them in the same economic boat with their constituents. The post’s text read as follows:
Donald J. Trump I would like to be the first citizen of these United States to go on record demanding that all holders of public office (Senators, House Representatives, Governors, and Mayors etc.) be denied pay during this disaster. They have made the choice to stop the pay of millions of Americans and they should be held to the exact same standard as us citizens. We the citizens CAN NOT AFFORD TO PAY THEIR SALARIES AT THIS TIME DUE TO THEIR DECISIONS!
All Americans should share this and we make this demand of our Government. That is OUR MONEY!!
The same sentiment (with identical wording) has formed the basis for several online petitions.
However, we found no record of Trump’s having made this statement (or having expressed a similar thought) in any interview, speech, press briefing, tweet, or other item of public record.
It appears likely that some anonymous netizen created this message and intended it to be addressed to the president (e.g., “Dear President Trump, I would like to be …”), but its formatting caused some readers to misinterpret it as a message from Trump rather than to him.