Trump And The Cost Of Air Force One Stephen Moore, an economic advisor to Donald Trump, addresses questions surrounding the president-elect and his comments on the cost of Air Force One.

Trump And The Cost Of Air Force One

Trump And The Cost Of Air Force One

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Stephen Moore, an economic advisor to Donald Trump, addresses questions surrounding the president-elect and his comments on the cost of Air Force One.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The stock price of Boeing recovered yesterday after briefly dropping. It fell when President-elect Trump called for canceling a contract with Boeing for a new Air Force One, a contract of, quote, "$4 billion." Afterward, Boeing said its existing contract is for much, much less.

TODD BLECHER: Currently, Boeing and the Air Force are on contract for a total of $170 million.

INSKEEP: That's Boeing representative Todd Blecher, reading from a prepared statement. So $170 million...

BLECHER: That's being used to help determine the capabilities of these complex airplanes that serve highly unique requirements of the president of the United States.

INSKEEP: OK, there could be an eventual bigger contract for an undetermined amount, most recently said to be under $3 billion. Let's talk this through with Stephen Moore. He's on the line from Richmond, Va. He's an economic adviser to President-elect Trump.

Mr. Moore, welcome back to the program.

STEPHEN MOORE: Hi, Steve. Great to be with you.

INSKEEP: What do you think when the president-elect makes a demand like that on Twitter that actually moves the market?

MOORE: Well, look, I think this is a president who has made it very clear to voters that he is going to take economy and government very seriously. And I don't know all the facts of the Boeing case, but I know this - he believes that this amount that Boeing is charging the taxpayers to build Air Force One is far too much. And he wants to negotiate a better deal. And given - given the fact that we're running near-trillion-dollar budget deficits in Washington, I think taxpayers should applaud that. I mean...

INSKEEP: Well, you know, I mean, it...

MOORE: Just one quick thing, Steve.

INSKEEP: Yeah.

MOORE: We see too often these contractors, these companies, bilking the taxpayers and - and - and, you know, cost overruns and so on. And nobody ever bats an eye about it. And maybe it's about time somebody did.

INSKEEP: Well, it's fair to bring this up, and certainly it has happened in other presidencies that there have been questions about Air Force One. But in this case, we don't even know what the contract was for, the amount for the contract. He's calling for canceling a contract that seems not to have been signed.

And many people noted that he made this announcement, which was briefly damaging to Boeing's stock price, shortly after Boeing CEO made a statement about free and fair trade. That is something you support, but could be seen as critical of Mr. Trump. Was this retaliation?

MOORE: I don't - I do not believe so. I believe that he is truly concerned about the cost of this project and that he is trying to guard the taxpayers' money. But I can't really comment on what his motivations are.

INSKEEP: OK. Let - let me bring in another perspective here. We heard yesterday from Jim McDermott, a Democratic representative from Washington state, one of many places where Boeing manufactures airplanes. And he was suggesting that the president-elect, who's very concerned about jobs, was putting jobs at risk. Let's listen to a little bit of that.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JIM MCDERMOTT: I don't know if he understands, Mr. Speaker, that you and the House of Representatives are the ones who made the contract and appropriated the money for that plane. That's the process. That's the democratic process of this country. It's not done by the president getting up in the morning and tweeting out 147 characters and ending a contract with hundreds of jobs at risk of people in my district - good, hard-working Americans.

INSKEEP: Is there something arbitrary or autocratic about the president-elect waking up one morning and saying he's going to do this.

MOORE: Well, it's a good question. And first of all, when he - when the congressman talks about, you know, good - what's in the interest of good, hard-working Americans, I think getting economy and government - making sure the taxpayers are getting what they paid for is something that all hard-working Americans want. And I believe that Donald Trump's motivations here are very much in the interest of taxpayers.

I think he's simply saying - and I think, by the way, he's sending a message to all federal contractors. We're not going to take this any more - cost overruns and, you know, you keep charging taxpayers more and more for these projects. We know that there's so much money wasted in Washington. I think this was a kind of clarion call saying, we're not going to take it lying down anymore when these federal contractors bilked taxpayers, which may or may not be the case.

Look, Steve, I don't know the particulars about this Boeing contract, but I do know - I am a federal expert. And I know that cost overruns cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars.

INSKEEP: Oh, sure. There was a report in The Washington Post the other day about huge amounts of money that could be saved at the Pentagon.

MOORE: Right.

INSKEEP: But I guess the question here is about how the president-elect went about it. Evan McMullin, former presidential candidate, said on Twitter - I just got about 30 seconds here - but he said, free enterprise is rules-based so that all have equal opportunity, rather than being at the mercy of one leader's whims, vengeance and greed.

MOORE: (Laughter) Well, I don't think this was greed at all. But I do believe that, look, this president has to establish policies that - that apply to all companies. And - and in this case, I think he's singling out Boeing because he's sending a message to all federal contractors. We've got our eye on you, and you better make sure you're giving taxpayers their money's worth.

INSKEEP: Stephen Moore, thanks. It's always a pleasure to have you on the program. Really appreciate it.

MOORE: Thank you, Steve. Have a great day.

INSKEEP: He's an adviser to Donald Trump.

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