Bread and Circuses
The National Park Service, which manages the National Mall, is diverting nearly $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees to cover costs associated with President Trump's Fourth of July "Salute to America" on Thursday, two people familiar with the arrangement tell The Washington Post. Those diverted funds, meant to be used for improving national parks around the country and enhancing the visitor experience, exceed the $2 million the Park Service typically spends on the entire Fourth of July celebration, former Park Service deputy director Denis Galvin tells the Post.
The money transferred from national park entrance fees represents "just a fraction of the extra costs the government faces as a result of the event, which will include displays of military hardware, flyovers by an array of jets including Air Force One, the deployment of tanks on the Mall, and an extended pyrotechnics show," the Post reports. How much will the whole affair cost? The White House isn't saying, and the Pentagon is referring all questions about the event to the White House and Interior Department, which are jointly planning the extravaganza.
"The military isn't in charge of this thing," one defense official told the Post. And retired military brass tell Politico that the whole thing makes them kind of queasy. "The president is using the armed forces in a political ploy for his re-election campaign and I think it's absolutely obscene," said retired Army Maj. Gen. William Nash. Trump has been planning an event like this since watching France's militaristic Bastille Day Parade in 2017, but this is probably the closest he will get to tanks rolling through the streets of D.C.
The tanks will be parked somewhere on the Mall, presumably not too close to the large "baby Trump" balloon.