For the second week in a row, Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize a company and the company’s stock responded to the President Elect’s tweet by taking a serious dive.
Last week, Trump tweeted that he was going to cancel the order of new Air Force Ones from Boeing. He claimed that the cost to taxpayers would be $4 billion.
Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016
Today, Trump went after one of Boeing’s competitors, the defense contractor Lockheed Martin.
“The F-35 program and cost is out of control,” Trump tweeted. “Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.”
The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2016
The stock immediately dropped by four percent, or more than $3.5 billion. The defense contractor replied this way:
A Lockheed Martin executive has responded to Mr Trump’s attack, insisting that the company has taken steps to cut the costs of the program.
“Since the beginning, we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce the price of the airplane by about 70 per cent since its original costing, and we project it to be about 85m dollars in the 2019 or 2020 time frame”, said Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 programme leader.
To be fair, the F-35 has been controversial since it was first contracted. Even the Air Force isn’t sold, but past Trump behavior leads us to speculate whether there is something more involved.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that last week’s dig at Boeing had reasons that extended far beyond the cost of Air Force One. Not only that, but Trump actually threatened the state of Washington, Boeing’s headquarters, during the election that if they didn’t vote for him, he would enact revenge through Boeing. Boeing is the state’s largest employer.
“But you better be careful, because you know what’s going on with Boeing and Boeing’s building a massive facility in China,” Trump said. “And then they’ll drop their currency and start devaluations as they always do. And then they’ll start taking your business away and you won’t have very much of Boeing left.”
Trump says if he is elected president over Hillary Clinton that won’t happen.
“But believe me, they are looking to get your businesses out of there,” he continued. “And you know how bad the trade deals have been for Washington state because they are very unfair deals.
“Now you live with them but we should do more than live with them.”
Trump says that before we know it, “they won’t be making the planes in Washington.”
Washington didn’t vote for Trump and neither did Lockheed Martin’s home state of Maryland.
Perhaps what’s most frightening about these tweets, though, is the fact that they come from ignorance. Trump refuses to attend most national security briefings, which means that pretty much everything he utters or tweets about defense is completely questionable. Perhaps he’s right that the F-35 is a waste of money, but Twitter is definitely not the platform to discuss that, because it’s not a discussion platform. Perhaps, though, he shouldn’t be picking winners and losers based on personal electoral or other vendettas.
No, liberals haven’t suddenly become fans of defense contractors and yes, we do agree that military spending is bloated, but it’s not just Lockheed’s executives and board who suffers when the stock is devalued. Real people have investments in Lockheed through 401ks and other stock holdings. For Trump to go off half cocked, without first doing his homework and due diligence is hardly presidential.
Featured image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images.