President Donald Trump reportedly isn't happy with some aspects of the planes that carry him around the globe. But his issues with Air Force One have nothing to do with things like safety or performance. Rather, he wants a "more American" paint job and a bigger and better presidential bed, according to Axios.
Trump met earlier this year with executives from Boeing, including CEO Dennis Muilenburg, and the two parties agreed Boeing will develop two new Air Force One planes at a cost of roughly $3.9 billion. Trump also detailed his curious specifications for the planes. According to Axios:
We're told that Trump wants a color scheme that "looks more American" and isn't a "Jackie Kennedy color." He doesn't think the current blue (technically "luminous ultramarine") represents the USA.
Some Air Force officials disagree, arguing that the current color scheme is "known around the world," Axios reports. Doesn't matter. Trump wants his planes to be red, white, and blue. He also wants Air Force One's presidential bed "to be larger and more comfortable," like the bed on his personal plane.
Ironically, Trump might not be able to experience the changes in person. The new planes aren't going to be ready until 2021 at the earliest, so he would have to win reelection if he wants to enjoy them. And it could take an additional three years for the Air Force to test the planes, CNN reported in February, meaning they might not be good to go until 2024. But Trump is reportedly keen on the process being completed before he leaves office, with a source telling CNN that the president "wants to fly on that new plane."
At the end of the day, paint jobs and presidential beds likely won't increase the final cost of the new planes very much. But if the current Air Force One fleet isn't broken, why is Trump ordering new ones ahead of schedule?
This order seems like the latest sign of a troubling trend where politicians not only treat the government like a piggybank, but do so without the slightest hint of shame. In February, The New York Times revealed that Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson ordered a brand new, taxpayer-funded $31,000 dining room set for his office. Scott Pruitt's tenure as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, which ended last week, was plagued by similar financial scandals, from installing an expensive soundproofed telephone booth in his office, to regularly traveling first class on airlines and taking a security detail on personal trips.
Politicians and policymakers have always played fast and loose with other people's money. It's what they do. But doing it so boldly and publicly normalizes some gross behavior.