Throughout the presidential campaign season, many jokes were made regarding whether President-elect Donald Trump would give up his luxurious Boeing 757 Trump airplane to “downsize” into the Boeing 747 Air Force One presidential airplane for his travel transportation.
Of course that was never even really an issue — Trump will fly on Air Force One following his inauguration — but it has led us to a much more consequential debate about Boeing and the aircraft it provides to the presidency at taxpayer’s expense.
Politico reported Tuesday that a tweet from Trump and a comment to the media were all that was needed to spark a frenzy of discussion over a government contract with Boeing to build the next iteration of the presidential fleet.
Trump began by tweeting, “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”
Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016
He followed up that tweet by appearing at the bottom of the elevators at Trump Tower a short time later where he briefly spoke with the gathered media and once again addressed the Boeing contract.
“The plane is totally out of control. It’s going to be over $4 billion for Air Force One program and I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump said. “I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money.”
Reuters reported in January 2016 that a deal had been reached with Boeing to begin working on replacements for the pair of Air Force One jets, a contract initially worth just $25.8 million set against a budget earmark of $1.65 billion for the aircraft.
Two new 747-8 four-engine jets would replace the two VC-25s currently flown now by the Air Force, specially modified 747-200Bs nearing the end of their estimated 30-year lifespan.
It is unclear from where exactly Trump got the $4 billion figure, but a CNBC report noted that the Department of Defense has allotted roughly $2.8 billion for the project until 2021, which when combined with the initial earmark of $1.65 billion would put the total cost above $4 billion.
While the media, establishment figures and lobbyists may complain that “this isn’t how it’s supposed to be done” and fret over broken protocol or Trump’s negotiating tactics, this appears suspiciously like what draining the swamp might look like going forward.
Taxpayers should let out a quick cheer as this certainly seems like businessman Trump is doing his fiduciary duty to locate cost overruns and instances of waste, fraud and abuse wherever it may appear, even in the contract for a new pair of Air Force One jets.
Other government contractors should take heed that their sweetheart deals with the feds might be under a microscope next, and act accordingly, as a guy who actually reads the bills he pays is taking office.
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