The biggest thing Donald Trump was surprised by when he became president was how much money he could save for the country, he told Fox News host Bill O’Reilly during part three of a multi-part interview on “The O’Reilly Factor” Tuesday night.
“What is the most surprising thing for you about this job you have,” host Bill O’Reilly asked. “You come from the private sector, no political office, now you’re the president of the United States. What surprised you?”
“I think the size, the magnitude of everything,” Trump said. “Here, you look at an airplane contract where you can save $600 million dollars on 90 planes. I saved, I saved more than $600 million dollars. I got involved in negotiations.”
Trump attacked Lockheed Martin in a tweet Dec. 22 for the “tremendous cost” of the F-35. The company later agreed to sell 90 F-35 planes to the Department of Defense for $8.5 million; that price saved the government hundreds of millions.
“President Trump’s personal involvement in the F-35 program accelerated the negotiations and sharpened our focus on driving down the price,” Lockheed said in a statement, though Fortune contends that, “The price per jet has been steadily declining as production ramps up, and defense analysts have said the discount hailed by Trump was in line with what had been flagged by Lockheed and Pentagon officials for months.”
Trump then told O’Reilly the next industry he’s going to target to save American taxpayers money: pharmaceuticals.
“The magnitude of, you can do that at every level of government. My new thing is going to be pharma, because we pay too much. We’re the largest drug purchaser in the world and they don’t negotiate.”
Pharmaceutical companies made monstrous profits off of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). Obamacare allowed the industry to rake in tens of billions of dollars, according to Forbes. “Overall, the ACA will leave the industry with anywhere between $10 and 35 billion in additional profits over the next decade, which is a significant boon at a time when patent expiries are heavily undermining the efforts of the pharma industry,” research firm GlobalData’s Joshua Owide said in 2013.
The ACA — a law then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said had to be passed before it was understood — has no provisions to stop the pharmaceutical industry from ballooning costs, according to Politico. It doesn’t allow for the government to negotiate drug prices or “reimportation of medicines” from countries that sell them cheaply. Prescription drug spending increased from $367 billion in 2012 to $457 billion in 2015, according to TIME, due in part to Obamacare’s higher deductibles forcing people to pay more out of pocket.
Trump has said before he intends to work with the pharmaceutical industry to reduce prices.