Why Has the President Declared Jihad Against Corporate Jets?

 

During his last press conference, President Barack Obama focused, as he should have, on the fragile state of the economy. Much of his discussion was devoted to the difficult negotiations that lie ahead on the deficit, where the president has pushed hard for a “balanced” approach that requires some mix of spending cuts on the one hand with an inevitable increase in taxes on the other.

But just whose taxes should be increased, and why? On that particular question the president was quick to play the populist card by claiming that the nameless “millionaires and billionaires” ought to bear the brunt of these tax increases, which would otherwise fall on our poorest and most vulnerable citizens. “Corporate jet owners” figured into Obama’s rhetorical calculus on six separate occasions as he called upon an end to tax breaks on corporate jets.

One of the president’s key statements was as follows:

And if we choose to keep those tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, if we choose to keep a tax break for corporate jet owners, if we choose to keep tax breaks for oil and gas companies that are making hundreds of billions of dollars, then that means we’ve got to cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship. That means we’ve got to stop funding certain grants for medical research. That means that food safety may be compromised. That means that Medicare has to bear a greater part of the burden. Those are the choices we have to make.

And just to make sure that we did not miss the point, Obama added:

If you are a wealthy CEO or a hedge fund manager in America right now, your taxes are lower than they have ever been. They’re lower than they’ve been since the 1950s. And you can afford it. You’ll still be able to ride on your corporate jet; you’re just going to have to pay a little more.

Such dubious logic explains why this nation finds itself in an economic pickle. To put the problem into high relief let us start with one particular corporate jet that needs no introduction: Air Force One, the corporate jet in the United States. Would we ever ground Air Force One? Of course not. So why has the president declared jihad against corporate jets? This is a question that I take up in my column this week for Defining Ideas. 

There are 12 comments.

  1. Percival Thatcher

    The President needs a new target for the Two Minute Hate. Emmanuel Goldstein just isn’t getting the juices flowing anymore.

    • #1
    • July 5, 2011, at 4:45 AM PDT
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  2. Ross C Member

    Home Run for the professor. If you did not read the whole article do so and come back. I think I have rarely read of a hot button political issue that has been so cleanly dispatched by reason alone. Amazing.

    • #2
    • July 5, 2011, at 5:22 AM PDT
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  3. raycon and lindacon Inactive

    But, of course, since Obama is spending largely borrowed money, the real question isn’t whether corporate jets should be taxed, but rather, how do we use the largess seized from our progeny to enhance his own political future?

    • #3
    • July 5, 2011, at 5:51 AM PDT
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  4. outstripp Inactive

    Some years ago the dems put a luxury tax on big yachts. Rich guys bought their yachts in europe and 100s of skilled workers in RI and ME lost their jobs. These mean-spirited taxes have consequences.

    • #4
    • July 5, 2011, at 6:01 AM PDT
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  5. knucklehead Inactive

    Obama said, “If you are a wealthy CEO or a hedge fund manager in America right now, your taxes are lower than they have ever been. They’re lower than they’ve been since the 1950s.”

    If they’re lower than they’ve ever been, what is the point of saying they are lower than they’ve been since the 1950’s?

    • #5
    • July 5, 2011, at 6:25 AM PDT
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  6. David Foster Member

    What is basically going on here is the re-establishment of Sumptuary Laws, as they existed in ancient societies and the Middle Ages. If you work in “public service”..as a government official, an executive of a “nonprofit,” or an university administrator, then travel by private jet is not only allowable, it is your social duty since you are acting on behalf of the lesser classes and not out of selfish motives.

    Indeed, many universities own private aircraft, jets or turboprops, for the use of their administrators and/or athletes. These are not affected by the proposed tax law changes: depreciation schedules are irrelevant to entities that do not pay income taxes at all.

    • #6
    • July 5, 2011, at 7:16 AM PDT
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  7. BlueAnt Member
    Richard Epstein: To put the problem into high relief let us start with one particular corporate jet that needs no introduction: Air Force One, the corporate jet in the United States. Would we ever ground Air Force One? Of course not.

    Wait, I’d like to challenge that. If the deficit is out of control, the President should consider cutting down travel.

    In an age of instant national media coverage, does he really need to fly all over the country for pointless photo ops? He can do all the communication his job requires from a White House podium, or by walking to the Capitol. There is no reason to fire up Air Force One just to get another shot of Obama touring a factory and giving a speech he could have done from the Rose Garden.

    Even worse, he takes Air Force One to private fundraisers. Those don’t raise money to pay for travel expenses, they pay for reelection.

    I say ground Air Force One except for international travel. If the President wants to roam America for photo ops, force him to do it by ground. That will make such trips long and rare, just like his overseas trips.

    • #7
    • July 5, 2011, at 8:14 AM PDT
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  8. David Foster Member

    Or have him use a smaller jet for domestic travel. Surely it would be possible to fit out, say, a Gulfstream with the necessary communications.

    The whole idea of a President’s travel as a sort of Imperial Progress needs to be challenged.

    • #8
    • July 5, 2011, at 8:39 AM PDT
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  9. Sisyphus Member

    Every speech he must do something new to prove that he has nothing to offer but failed 1930’s economic prescriptions and the hard fought ignorance of the ideologue. Maybe yachts are next. Before he’s gone we’ll get the too many cars speech, too many children speech, too many televisions speech.

    MSNBC did not suspend Halperin for the tone, it was the accuracy.

    • #9
    • July 5, 2011, at 9:05 AM PDT
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  10. Sisyphus Member
    Roy Gilley: Obama said, “If you are a wealthy CEO or a hedge fund manager in America right now, your taxes are lower than they have ever been. They’re lower than they’ve been since the 1950s.”

    If they’re lower than they’ve ever been, what is the point of saying they are lower than they’ve been since the 1950’s?

    He would have proofed the speech, but there was this golf course, see. Commander in Thief is a grueling job.

    • #10
    • July 5, 2011, at 9:09 AM PDT
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  11. TeamAmerica Member

    AFAIK, the tax cut for corporate jets was in the 2009 Obama-Pelosi-Reid stimulus, meaning that the POTUS can’t even demagogue competently:

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/2011/06/flashback-ap-stimulus-includes-tax-break-promote-private-jet-sale

    • #11
    • July 5, 2011, at 9:43 AM PDT
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  12. Cas Balicki Inactive

    Face it guys, the man is an economic illiterate, strutting his ignorance in the service of the class war he hopes will sweep him back into as opposed to out of office.

    • #12
    • July 5, 2011, at 10:18 AM PDT
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