February 16th, 2009
03:28 PM ET

Obama confronts a choice on copters

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/13/air.force.one/art.obama.af1.gi.jpg]
Peter Baker
The New York Times

President Obama has slammed high-flying executives traveling in cushy jets at a time of economic turmoil. But soon he will have to decide whether to proceed with some of the priciest aircraft in the world — a new fleet of 28 Marine One helicopters that will each cost more than the last Air Force One.

A six-year-old project to build state-of-the-art presidential helicopters has bogged down in a contracting quagmire that will challenge Mr. Obama’s desire to rein in military contracting expenses. The price tag has nearly doubled, production has fallen years behind schedule and much of the program has been frozen until the new administration figures out what to do about it.


soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. J.V.Hodgson

    Well, halve the fleet purchase, actually authorised initially by Republicans if legally possible.
    Otherwise do what is legal and practical necessity and do it and put the blame where it belongs on a Paranoid Republican war mongering set of fanatics!!

    February 17, 2009 at 5:06 am |
  2. Matt

    P.S. Does David Gergan ever sleep?

    February 16, 2009 at 11:16 pm |
  3. Matt

    Are the new copters any quieter? I live in DC and have not been able to sleep in on a Saturday in 2 years!

    February 16, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  4. Jack

    'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics.. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and Set us free. Amen!'

    Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program, 'The Rest of the Story,' and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired. With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called 'One nation under God..'

    Think about this: If you forward this prayer to everyone on your e-mail list, in less than 30 days it would be heard by the world. (It's worth a try!) One Nation Under God.

    February 16, 2009 at 11:02 pm |
  5. lynette

    Why would we for a minute question whatever it takes to protect our leader?President Obama faces safety challenges domestically as well as internationally.There is a difference with taxpayer dollars paying for the corporate elite to travel "comfortable" ,then the leader we voted for to have the security in whatever form it may be ,to insure his safety to champion the rights of the people he has been chosen to lead?

    February 16, 2009 at 10:53 pm |
  6. John

    CHANGE!!! Can you see it coming? You want the change and now you are getting it. Bigger government. Bigger spending. House speaker got her bigger airplan and now this??? CHANGE. YOU GOT IT COMING.

    February 16, 2009 at 10:49 pm |
  7. Angie S.

    The President is saving not only the U.S. but the entire world from economic disaster. His safety is #1. If something were to happen to him, this country might never recover. Yes he needs the new helicopters. If Bush were in office, most of the people questioning this would have no objections!
    Can't compare this to the greedy corporate bankers- whose life have any one of them ever saved except their own???

    February 16, 2009 at 10:45 pm |
  8. Monica

    Was there a conversation when Bush picked a plane or was there one thrusted upon him? Finally, we have a man in the White House to pay attention to and not think of him as a Bafoon. If he doesn't have the best and something happens to him or his family guess what most of us would think? Yes, someone was out to get him. There are some in the U. S. that still have ethnicity issues. I don't like the word race because we all are of the HUMAN RACE!

    February 16, 2009 at 10:38 pm |
  9. Susan

    I am very disappointed that President Obama would even consider purchasing 28 helicopters when the ecomomy is in such a dire state.
    The helicopters he has should be good enough. After all I am sure that they are still functional. Too many americans are driving to work in cars that are 10 years old or older. What about their safety?

    No Helicopters!!!!

    February 16, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  10. Richard

    Hey AC,
    can't you see,
    Prez Obama's decision will be thought out,
    without everyones shout
    Let's dont chop off the hand
    that will feed us.

    February 16, 2009 at 9:43 pm |
  11. Als

    Pres Obama security go under so should every Pres now and for the future. Bush security should be eliminated. If your going to protect Presidents -protect them all while there in the white House. Pres lives are more in danger than anyones.

    February 16, 2009 at 9:29 pm |
  12. Annie Kate

    I agree that the President needs the best most protected helicopter he can get but why so many? Can't they get by with 3 or 4 instead of a dozen or more? Later when the economy is better they could add to their fleet.

    February 16, 2009 at 8:38 pm |
  13. Kriss, Washington DC

    President Obama needs the best, safest and most secure transportation we can pay for. But, he absolutely must keep the contract in America, by American manufacturer, Sikorsky. Please, please do not pursue a foreign manufacturer and don't sacrifice safety for saving face. He is not just another chief executive officer - he's our president for God's sake!

    February 16, 2009 at 7:00 pm |
  14. Melanie Roberts

    It is my belief that President Obama should upgrade the helicopter fleet. Never has any President of the past been asked to compromise his safety. Therefore, why should this President. Yes the economy is terrible but that is not his fault nor is worth his life. I feel it is unfair to compare the President of the United States to the automobile CEO's. The last time I watched the news CEO's life were not being constantly threaten nor did they hold the most prestigious position in the world. I wonder if the President was not African-American would this even be an issue? How can anyone place a monetary value on the life and saftey of the President? It is time to upgrade due to new technology because the President saftey is critical.

    February 16, 2009 at 6:51 pm |
  15. Larry L.

    Obama wants to be just like President Lincoln,let him walk,that will thrill the Democrats and Al Gore,(,they can save energy ,and stop global warming)and save tax dollars.Lead by example!!!

    February 16, 2009 at 6:23 pm |

    I beleive our socialist president Barack Hussein Obama should have Air Force One and a Marine One helicopter at his disposal. Since he criticized all CEO's for traveling in corporate jets, he should practice what he preaches. I am beginning to think that Obama believes he is King Obama rather than president. His reputation is being exposed as a tax and spend liberal Democrat.

    February 16, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  17. concern/denver Colorado

    Obama has a family he is traveling with ..the updates should accommodate them ...Bush had only him and his wife ...

    February 16, 2009 at 5:30 pm |
  18. Bill

    Of course the buzz is all about executive compensation. How can any executive be compensated when their company is in the red? It's not logical.

    But this leads to corporate husking (or fleecing) of consumers using taxpayers' dollars. Let's not just get lost in all of these corporate executive idiosyncracies, when we should also examine corporations that have figured out ways to shake down consumers using taxpayers’ dollars with seals of approval from the stock market.

    Case in point, why isn't Obama's team going after “education” institutes like University of Phoenix? How many millions of dollars each year does this institute take from consumers in terms of U.S. Government Student Loans without providing an equally compensatory educational service?

    Is this the only well-lubricated, NASDAQ endorsed, Corporate America/U.S. Government setup out there that seems to consistently fleece taxpayers, both directly and indirectly? We should examine corporate practices like these, as well.

    Isn't the American society and the U.S. Government losing terribly in these setups. Isn't anybody concerned?

    Maybe we should shift some of our focus away from corporate executive compensation and "terrorists and attacks from within," as is all over the media, and examine questionable education practices which come from within our own society and are enacted on itself.

    Fleecing U.S. consumers and U.S. taxpayers through our education system is truly an attack from within, with short, medium, and long-term effects. And all the while foreign students are sent by their governments to our real, nationally accredited, U.S. universities just to take their knowledge back to their countries of origin.

    If the aforementioned educational practices represent healthy capitalism, then I don't see how such a system can support itself.

    Stop the madness!!!

    February 16, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  19. Jim,California

    I sugest he practices what he preaches.

    February 16, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  20. JD Simpson

    As a former navy helicopter squadron logistics type who spent hours in the SH3H (Navy version of the Marine One chopper) – both made by Sikorsky – the replacement aircraft needs to stay home made and made by Sikorsky. So what if some of those birds are 35 years old – they fly and they look good. Why waste money on an Italian chopper that Lockheed cant configure at less than 400 million dollars each.
    President Obama needs to tell teh Pentagon to head to CT – get Sikorsky out of bed and to the drawing table.

    February 16, 2009 at 4:36 pm |
  21. Nnenna Stella

    He should def have the best...he's the president.

    February 16, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  22. sean brizendine

    come on anderson he's the president of the united states he should have the best and safest form of aviation transportation.
    "sean in santa rosa"

    February 16, 2009 at 3:55 pm |