- Days left

Just how much did taxpayers pay to get terrorized by that Air Force One fly-by?

President Obama has ordered a review of that spectacularly dumb fly-by over lower Manhattan that panicked thousands of workers still shell-shocked from 9/11. He's said to be "furious," and he says the exercise, orchestrated to generate some new photos of the plane, was an inappropriate use of taxpayer money.

Excuse me while I do a little happy dance. Whenever I hear any federal politician seriously explore responsibility to the taxpayer, I'm nearly bowled over by the novelty.
I hope Obama has better luck coming to an approximate price tag than I have. I've noodled around to find some good guesses, though. A 2007 Congressional Research Service report estimated the cost per hour to operate the plane used as Air Force One as between $34,400 and $56,800, depending on whom you ask: the White House (at the time, the Bush one) or the Air Force. That price included the POTUS' entourage and security services, but since fuel and maintenance are a lion's share of the expense, it gives you a good ballpark idea, and it matches the $40,000 that Katie Couric estimates on her blog.

Try eight times higher, at least. ABC News reported that the Air Force estimated cost of the exercise was $328,835. I don't know how much I trust that number, given that it was added inside heads that are sure to roll soon. It's not yet clear if that figure includes the cost of the two F-16 fighter jets that escorted the jet. That figure also doesn't come close to calculating the dramatic plunge in productivity at all the offices where thousands of workers quickly evacuated their buildings, terrified they were being targeted again. Or of the cost incurred by the surge of calls to 911 for emergency response. We'll never know how much that self-inflicted terror cost us.

The Department of Defense's own defenders have claimed the flights were combined with a pre-scheduled training flight in order to save money.

This isn't the first time that a government has ripped off taxpayers in order to look good before the cameras. In 2001, Australian taxpayers savaged government ministers after its Air Force flew the castaways (including The View's Elisabeth Hasselbeck) of CBS' Survivor game show on a military transport plane to the outback. That flight cost the average Joe an estimated $150,000, and it, too, was defended with a claim that it qualified as training.

Couric and comic Jon Stewart alike suggested that new press photos could have been achieved for $700. That's the price for a copy of Photoshop.

I was in lower Manhattan on that day in 2001, and the cavalier attitude evidenced by the fly-by disgusts me, to put it mildly, but I find it perfectly representative of a general attitude, espoused by military profiteers entrenched in our government, about the untouchable status of the military.
The military branches of our government have got to learn that they don't own the show anymore and they have to be subject to the same rules of prudence, common sense, and fiscal wisdom that the rest of us have to obey. Watching Manhattan residents scramble for safety, it became obvious that our government doesn't always seem to consider the very people it purports to protect. We need a new system of transparency and accountability.

I'm clipping coupons. So can the Department of Defense, particularly when it comes to blowing our money on what amounts to some glamour shots for an airplane.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Introduction to Retirement Funds

Target date funds help you maintain a long term portfolio.

View Course »

Economics 101

Intro to economics. But fun.

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

Will Medicare/Medicaid be Impacted by ACA?

The Affordable Care Act put in place significant tax-related programs that impact Medicare and Medicaid, such as increased Medicare taxes on earned and unearned income for high-wage earners, and Medicaid changes that increase the number of insured individuals. Establishing whether you are affected by the ACA-imposed taxes, or are eligible for certain health programs that fall under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is determined by filing your income tax.

8 Things You Think Are Tax Deductible That Aren't

There?s a fine line between looking to save money on your taxes and taking deductions that will raise eyebrows at the Internal Revenue Service. Some taxpayers are tripped up by expenses that they assume are tax deductions, but don?t qualify under IRS guidelines. Here are a dozen items that can lead to unpleasant surprises in case of an audit.

Essential Tax Forms for the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to as Obamacare, affects how millions of Americans will prepare their taxes in the new year. The law now includes penalties for all who haven?t obtained health insurance -- and those penalties are expected to be paid at tax time. The ACA also provides tax credits to help people pay for insurance, and you can claim those credits when you file your taxes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has introduced a number of tax forms to accommodate the ACA.

How to Determine if You Have Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC)

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires most Americans to have health insurance that meets a government standard known as "minimum essential coverage," or MEC. Whether your insurance qualifies as MEC depends not on the plan itself, but on how you obtained your coverage.

What are 1095 Tax Forms for Health Care?

In 2014 the Affordable Health Care Act, also known as Obamacare, introduced three new tax forms relevant to individuals, employers and health insurance providers. They are forms 1095-A, 1095-B and 1095-C. These forms help determine if you need to comply with the new shared responsibility payment, the fee you might have to pay if you don't have health insurance. For individuals who bought insurance through the health care marketplace, this information will help to determine whether you are able to receive an additional premium tax credit or have to pay some back.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum