Ever the narcissistic showman, President Trump has already begun holding campaign rallies for the next presidential election. At one of those rallies last week, he claimed he would bring the price of upgrades to Air Force One “down by over $1 billion.” There’s only one problem: he completely made it up.
That’s according to Air Force spokesman Col. Pat Ryder, who, when asked Wednesday about Trump’s claims of cost savings said he “had not been told that we have that information” and referred all inquiries to the White House.
Trump was referring to a program to purchase and upgrade two Boeing 747s to be used as Air Force One, a deal he claimed would cost some $4.2 billion rather than the Air Force’s estimated $2.7 billion. “Can you believe this?” he asked a crowd of supporters in Florida. “I said ‘no way.’ I said ‘I refuse to fly in a $4.2 billion airplane.’”
Trump’s fiscal qualms apparently do not extend to his proposed border wall, which would eat up some $25 billion of taxpayer money to combat a non-existent threat. In any case, the President knows nothing about the specifics of airplane manufacturing and thus his criticism was nothing more than populist grandstanding. Once again, however, he’s been caught in his lies.
Trump’s recent comments are not the first time he’s gone after Boeing. The aerospace giant’s stock tumbled in December after Trump criticized the cost of new fighter jets and threatened to cancel the Air Force One contract.
Indeed the obnoxiously ostentatious billionaire had expressed a desire to use his own private jet rather than resort to Air Force One. That plan, however, was quickly vetoed by the Air Force as the special security measures and on-board office of the presidential jet could not be replicated on Trump Force One.
A preliminary phase of planning for upgrades to the aging Air Force One is already underway with a $170 million contract, according to Boeing. The Air Force has said that it plans to award Boeing the contracts for two new 747s around mid-year, Trump’s imaginary cost savings notwithstanding.
Once again our president has demonstrated his utter inability to keep his massive ego in check. While his lie about reducing the cost of the Air Force One contract is relatively benign, it is symbolic of a much larger problem.
Trump and his administration are more than willing to peddle their alternative facts even as they insult and repress the free press. The result is a country divided not only by political party but by belief in the truth, as Trump’s fans become increasingly conditioned to believing their dictatorial savior rather than their own common sense.
James DeVinne is a student at American University in Washington, DC majoring in International Service with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a founding member of Occupy Baltimore and interns at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.