President Barack Obama found a quick way to cut $11 billion of planned federal spending this week, courtesy of his former rival for the White House: On Tuesday, Obama put on hold an order for a fleet of new presidential helicopters.
“The helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me,” Obama said Monday.
The new high-security helicopter fleet was ordered by former President George W. Bush in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But Republican Sen. John McCain, Obama’s rival in last fall’s presidential campaign, suggested Monday during a meeting with the president that such a proposal is no longer appropriate.
“I don’t think that there’s any more graphic demonstration of how good ideas ... have cost taxpayers an enormous amount of money,” McCain told Obama.
The president apparently agreed. On Tuesday the White House announced that the helicopter order had been put on hold.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that President Obama will find it so easy to cut other high-dollar items. That’s especially true when Democrats in Congress have just proposed a $410 billion emergency spending bill that includes thousands of budget earmarks and raises spending 8 percent over the past fiscal year, even without the stimulus and bailout bills.
That sort of thing could make a president want to get away for a while, even if he has to use an old helicopter.