Winning: Trump Forces Boeing to Cut Costs
Has the United States ever had a president-elect as effective as Donald J. Trump?
The media went ballistic two weeks ago when Trump ripped Boeing on Twitter, complaining that the estimated $4 billion price tag for the new Air Force One was far too expensive. “Cancel order,” he wrote, sending both the company and the press into a tizzy. Boeing’s stock dipped temporarily and chief executive Dennis Muilenburg scrambled to get the president-elect on the phone and calm the waters.
On Wednesday, Muilenburg headed down to Trump’s Mar a Lago estate in Florida to make some assurances. After the meeting, the Boeing CEO told reporters that the company would make sure the cost of the project remained under control.
“We’re going to get it done for less than that,” Muilenburg said of the $4 billion figure. “And we’re committed to working together to make sure that happens. I was able to give the president-elect my personal commitment on behalf of the Boeing Company.”
While the military has reportedly set aside $2.7 billion for the Air Force One update program, analysts predicted that the costs would nearly double by the time the planes actually came off the production line. When Trump got wind of the potential explosion in cost, he demanded that Boeing make it right or risk losing the contract altogether.
On Wednesday, Muilenburg told reporters that Boeing and Trump were poised to have a wonderful working relationship.
“We’re all focused on the same thing here, we’re going to make sure that we give our war fighters the best capability in the world and that we do it in a way that is affordable for our taxpayers,” Muilenburg said. “And his business head set around that is excellent. It was a terrific conversation. Got a lot of respect for him. He’s a good man. And he’s doing the right thing.”
Trump also held a meeting with Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson on Wednesday as he attempted to bring the costs down on the company’s F-35 contract. “It’s a program that’s very, very expensive,” he said.
On the outcome of that meeting, the president-elect was less bullish. He told reporters that it was too soon to know if Lockheed could meet his desired terms, but that he was committed to the ongoing process of negotiation.
“It’s a dance, you know, it’s a little bit of a dance. But we’re going to get the costs down and we’re going to get it done beautifully,” he said.
In a statement, Hewson said, “The F-35 is a critical program to our national security, and I conveyed our continued commitment to delivering an affordable aircraft to our U.S. military and our allies.”
Even before taking the oath of office, Trump has already lived up to the promise of his campaign – that he would use his business acumen to save jobs and cut federal waste. At this rate, we might actually be “sick of winning” by the time President Trump is up for re-election.
But probably not.