President Donald Trump might spin the idea that his July Fourth rally won't cost taxpayers a dime, but if that were true, the Pentagon wouldn't be trying to find ways "creative ways" to conceal the cost for the military.
During an appearance on Rachel Maddow, Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) said that he anticipated a full report on the funds required from the Government Accountability Office. If it's revealed the president fully politicizes the event, his campaign could be on the hook for the event.
The Washington Post has detailed the costs surrounding the event, but they reported Wednesday that the Pentagon is doing what they can to hide the facts from the public.
"The Pentagon will use creative accounting to handle the assignment," The Post said. "A defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the conversation, said that the services will use existing allotments of training hours from the units involved, muddying the waters on what costs can be counted against the celebration."
Conservative estimates expect $700,000 for the B-2 bomber, $300,000 for two F-22 fighters, $320,000 for the Blue Angels demonstration team and $660,000 for two F-35 jets. Unfortunately, the weather forecast might make the cost for nothing if torrential rains and storms prevent some aircraft from flying.
Just the aerial show Trump wants could cost more than $2 million, and that doesn't include the security, mega-screen, National Park Service costs and more.
"And there's the yet-to-be-determined cost of military activities on the ground, including shipping two M1A2 Abrams tanks on rail cars from Fort Stewart in Georgia along with other armored vehicles that are expected to flank Trump as he speaks Thursday evening," The Post explained. "In 2018, when Trump last floated his idea for a military parade in Washington, it was scuttled after defense officials estimated it would cost $92 million, including $50 million in Defense Department money."
Pentagon spokesperson Tom Crosson said that accounting could be complicated and it may take a while to conclude.
Defense budget expert at the Brookings Institution, Michael O'Hanlon, said that any attempt to hide the funds by claiming the air show is a "training exercise" would be absurd.
"If they're trying to justify the money, it's a fool's errand to say this is just as good as any other training," O'Hanlon said. "To the extent that it can be separated from Trump himself and be turned into a celebration of the country itself, the military maybe boosts its image, but it's not a one-to-one replacement for other training activities."
When Trump told the Pentagon he wanted this military parade in 2018, officials estimated it would cost $92 million, with a $50 million-pricetag for the Defense Department.
One defense official told The Post that the Pentagon wasn't in the position to push back on Trump's demands. But the official said that they do it for public relations and recruiting.
"We do this sort of stuff all the time," the defense official said.
Read the full report at The Washington Post