State lawmakers hit Trump for 'unsubstantiated' Air Force One tweet

Seattle PI: State lawmakers hit Trump for 'unsubstantiated' Air Force One tweet
By Joel Connelly

President-elect Donald Trump is giving U.S. aerospace workers a black eye with "unsubstantiated" claims about the cost of a new Air Force One and calls that it be canceled, leaders of Washington's congressional delegation said Tuesday.

The lawmakers were reacting to another of Trump's factually challenged tweets, this one aimed at Boeing, a major U.S. exporter.

"I'm disappointed that President-elect Trump is using unsubstantiated facts to publicly attack American aerospace workers, despite saying he'd protect U.S. jobs," U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., whose district is home to thousands of Boeing workers, said in her own Tweet.

U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, and Rep. Rick Larsen , D-Wash., issued a statement saying:

"Replacing the 26-year-old Air Force One aircraft will support good-paying jobs throughout Northwest Washington and is important to ensuring the safety and security of future Presidents.  The President-elect's tweet does nothing to change those basic facts."

"Basic facts" is where Trump is challenged.  In his tweet, the President-elect claimed:

"Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One aircraft for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order."

A prominent conservative Republican opinion expert, Frank Luntz, used his own tweet to set Trump straight on the facts.

"The actual number is $1.65 billion to build two new Air Force One aircraft ($825 million each)," wrote Luntz.  "Not $4 billion."

Why would Trump take a shot at Boeing?  Ninety percent of its 151,000-person workforce is U.S. based, along with 80 percent of its suppliers.  The company is in major competition with its European rival Aribus.

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing's CEO, stressed the importance of exports, and the Chinese market, in a speech to the Illinois Manufacturers Association last week. Trump has blasted China's trade practices.

"I'm not a political pundit or prognosticator -- we have too many of those -- but anyone who paid attention to the recent campaigns and the election results realizes that one of the overarching themes was apprehension about free and fair trade," said Muilenburg.

The Boeing boss noted that a "large and growing percentage of our business" comes from international sales including orders from China.  The president of China visited Boeing's Everett plant on a 2015 trip to the Seattle area.

"Last year, we delivered 495 737's from our factory in Renton, Washington, to customers around the world," said Muilenburg.  "One in every three of those 737's were bound for China.  And about a quarter of all our airplane deliveries . . . were bound for Chinese customers.

"This phenomenon would have been unimaginable when I started at the company in 1985."

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