CEO bonus: Obama spends $13 billion on helicopters for himself

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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/us/politics/26murtha.html?hp=&pagewanted=all
On a visit to the White House, the lawmaker told senior defense officials that it would be “foolish” and “ridiculous” to cancel all of a $13 billion contract to buy new presidential helicopters, as he later recounted to a defense industry newsletter. But Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has insisted on scrapping the deal as a symbol of waste.
That's more than the annual science budget of the http://www.nsf.gov/about/congress/111/highlights/cu09_0310.jsp put together.

To provoke discussion, I'll begin: I think this is vastly excessive spending, I think it is unnecessary and wasteful, and I think it is hypocritical of an administration which sees "excessive" private-sector executive compensation as a political issue.
 
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  • #2
jhae2.718
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This is another example of the waste in government programs. While the VH-3s need replacing, it's ridiculous that the helicopters would cost $13 billion dollars...per unit that's more than an F-22 in you factor in the R&D costs. Part of the problem is trying to turn the presidential helicopter into Air Force One and NEACP combined...

If the Presidential Helicopters cost $13 billion, how much are they going to want to spend on the replacements for the VC-25s?

I have to agree completely with Secretary Gates here. For the price of one VH-71, we could buy the President four A380s...

Also, I'm not sure how this fits in with the whole corporate aviation=evil concept currently in Washington...
 
  • #3
OmCheeto
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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/us/politics/26murtha.html?hp=&pagewanted=all


That's more than the annual science budget of the http://www.nsf.gov/about/congress/111/highlights/cu09_0310.jsp put together.

To provoke discussion, I'll begin: I think this is vastly excessive spending, I think it is unnecessary and wasteful, and I think it is hypocritical of an administration which sees "excessive" private-sector executive compensation as a political issue.
Either I am misunderstanding what you are saying, or you have misunderstood who made the statement. The article really isn't very clear who said it, but from the structure of the paragraph, I believe it was Representative John P. Murtha who wanted to spend $13 Billion on the copters.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/us/politics/26murtha.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=all"
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK / New York Times
Published: April 25, 2009

WASHINGTON — So powerful was Representative John P. Murtha at one time that he used to put up billboards in his Western Pennsylvania district declaring that “the P is for Power.” Few in Congress dared disagree: he doled out or withheld billions in federal money each year for lawmakers’ pet projects, better known as earmarks.
..........

While past presidents often courted Mr. Murtha with phone calls and private meetings, President Obama has extended to him no such courtesies. On a visit to the White House, the lawmaker told senior defense officials that it would be “foolish” and “ridiculous” to cancel all of a $13 billion contract to buy new presidential helicopters, as he later recounted to a defense industry newsletter. But Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has insisted on scrapping the deal as a symbol of waste.
It was probably Obama himself that axed the program.
 
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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/us/politics/26murtha.html?hp=&pagewanted=all


That's more than the annual science budget of the http://www.nsf.gov/about/congress/111/highlights/cu09_0310.jsp put together.

To provoke discussion, I'll begin: I think this is vastly excessive spending, I think it is unnecessary and wasteful, and I think it is hypocritical of an administration which sees "excessive" private-sector executive compensation as a political issue.


A few good points are made here. First, how incredibly rediculous is this spending? Government never ceases to amaze me in how it can simply expand and spend without worry of punishment or criticism. Sometimes defense spending can be helpful in pulling an economy up, but in this case the goods/services being purchased simply do not justify the spending. It is sad to see this occur when there are other useful places for this over-the-top spending to be utilized. If you are going to spend tax dollars like play money, at least put it towards a worthwhile cause.

Last, I cannot help but agree with your assertion that this administration is hypocritical on this occasion. Executives often times draw excessive criticism for much smaller expenditures, while politicians in general can spend freely with hardly the same scrutiny and antagonism that is pointed at the private sector.
 
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  • #6
OmCheeto
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Hmm. You could be right.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30071664/

Gates 'recommends' funding be cut.
And now, for the shortest, most appropriate response to this thread:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/V3FnpaWQJO0&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param [Broken] name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/V3FnpaWQJO0&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

:smile:
 
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  • #7
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McCain and Obama actually discussed it during a WH "Round Robin"...mutually agreed it was excessive. Obama joked about never having a helicopter before...these seem fine to him.
 
  • #8
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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A few good points are made here. First, how incredibly rediculous is this spending? Government never ceases to amaze me in how it can simply expand and spend without worry of punishment or criticism. Sometimes defense spending can be helpful in pulling an economy up, but in this case the goods/services being purchased simply do not justify the spending. It is sad to see this occur when there are other useful places for this over-the-top spending to be utilized. If you are going to spend tax dollars like play money, at least put it towards a worthwhile cause.

Last, I cannot help but agree with your assertion that this administration is hypocritical on this occasion. Executives often times draw excessive criticism for much smaller expenditures, while politicians in general can spend freely with hardly the same scrutiny and antagonism that is pointed at the private sector.
You did the see part where the admin already axed the project and the report was taken out of context, right?

But just out of curiosity, how would you know if the President needs new helicopters?
 
  • #9
http://www.pcworld.com/article/157907/securing_the_presidential_blackberry.html

There isn't a price in there unfortunately but I remember hearing that the presidents blackberry was going to cost a pretty penny.
http://news.cnet.com/obamas-new-blackberry-the-nsas-secure-pda/
$3350 according to this article. This first article I linked will give you an idea of the specialized security requirements for the phone and why it costs so much.

At any rate, the point is that anything that is going to be used by the president is likely to cost several times more than the standard issue version and for several good reasons. Even if they didn't axe the choppers because for what ever reason they were actually needed could you really be suprised by the price tag?
 
  • #10
Astronuc
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It appears that the thread title is false and misleading. The proposed helicopter fleet upgrade was an item from the Bush administration.

Marine One Upgrade Now Looks Less Likely
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/23/AR2009022302574.html
The prospects for building a new fleet of high-tech presidential helicopters darkened yesterday, after the new commander in chief called the costly Bush administration effort an example of military procurement "gone amok" and said he thinks the existing White House helicopter fleet "seems perfectly adequate."

President Obama's remarks at the opening of a meeting with lawmakers on fiscal responsibility did not rule out finishing the program, now expected to cost more than $11.2 billion, or nearly twice the original estimate. He joked that he has not had a helicopter before, so perhaps "I've been deprived and I -- I didn't know it."

But Obama's disclosure that he had asked Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to conduct a "thorough review of the helicopter situation" amounted to a shot across the bow of large defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, the helicopter's manufacturer. In recent years, contractors have experienced multiple cost overruns -- totaling $300 billion on the 95 largest military programs, according to the Government Accountability Office -- without incurring substantial penalty.

Billions of dollars have been spent to develop the VH-71 helicopter fleet, which is meant to replace the iconic Sikorsky Marine One helicopters the White House has used for a quarter-century. But technical problems -- the aircraft weighs too much and is to be outfitted with sophisticated electronic gear that has not yet been developed -- have repeatedly forced the program's restructuring, and in recent months, the Pentagon ordered key work halted to reassess its design and necessity.

Senior Pentagon officials, including outgoing procurement chief John J. Young Jr. and testing chief Charles E. McQueary, have frequently described the VH-71 as an example of how military systems should not be bought: The White House security office repeatedly added highly complex security requirements, and the Pentagon began building the helicopters without first settling on a design and testing the key components.
. . . .
 

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