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Opinion

Opinion

Aviation rhetoric is misguided

July 28, 2011

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With all of the flak general aviation is taking during the debt ceiling battle, it might be a good thing if President Obama Googled the World War II song, “Comin’ In On a Wing and A Prayer,” the tale of a plane struggling back to base after a bombing raid.

General aviation is certainly struggling under the war of words against a major American employer. Despite the inaccurate claims by my friends on the left that general aviation only serves millionaires and billionaires, these aircraft serve as essential business tools. Understanding that managers, sales teams and technical experts are often required to visit numerous offices in a short amount of time, and in regions of the United States that aren’t served by large airports, general aviation is often their only option. In fact, 90 percent of our country’s airports aren’t accessible by commercial aircraft.

General aviation employs more than 1.2 million workers, and annually contributes $150 billion to the U.S. economy. In 2010, general aviation delivered 1,334 planes valued at $7.9 billion, with well over half attributed to exports — a number that supports President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years.

General aviation has struggled during the recession, resulting in layoffs among the many high-skill, high-paying jobs in this industry. Many hard working manufacturers have been forced to find work elsewhere or seek unemployment benefits.

That is precisely why President Obama himself, along with Democratic members of Congress, included a provision in the stimulus bill to accelerate the depreciation schedules for general aviation aircraft.

Well, what the left hand giveth, the class warfare hand taketh away.

In a surprise attack on general aviation during several press conferences on how to achieve debt reduction, President Obama targeted tax breaks for “corporate jets” no less than six times. Likewise, budget negotiators are considering implementing onerous user fees on general aviation as a way to generate revenue, which would further cripple the industry.

Tom Buffenbarger, president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said it best in a joint letter he sent to President Obama with other aviation manufacturer associations, “Words have consequences and, in this industry, a few misguided words can put at risk even the ever-so-modest recovery we have experienced. What this industry and its workforce requires is more time to recover, a chance to book more orders and the opportunity to recall more workers.”

The need to get serious about spending and our deficit is obvious, but it makes sense to only consider those provisions that would actually have a measurable impact on reducing our more than $14 trillion national debt. The Democrats proposal to change the depreciation schedules for corporate jets would only contribute $3 billion of revenue over 10 years. Considering that the United States borrows approximately $40 billion every 10 days, repealing this tax provision would close our national budget deficit for one hour. This is in addition to user fees, which could very well spell the end of the U.S. general aviation industry as we know it.

The general aviation industry has come through some rough times this past decade. We will persevere and do so again — “Comin’ in on a wing and a prayer.” Our task would be a lot easier without so much class warfare flak from the White House.

Comments

cato_the_elder 3 years, 4 months ago

"Our task would be a lot easier without so much class warfare flak from the White House."

Good luck. Obama has trucked on class warfare his entire political career, and he's not about to stop now.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

He shifted to the winning side once he became president, and you still don't like him.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 4 months ago

The only thing worthy of note that he's done since he took office is agree to sign the tax legislation last December. Of course, without the Tea Party that would never have happened.

Flap Doodle 3 years, 4 months ago

The user of the largest and most expensive corporate jet in the world resides at 1600 Penn Ave.

cato_the_elder 3 years, 4 months ago

As does the user of Air Force Two, who is itching to engage in more lavish jet-setting junkets as soon as the 2012 election is over.

Liberty275 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm more impressed by Marine One. Seriously, how cool is it to have a helicopter land next to your back door so you don't have to travel among the serfs on the way to your private 747 at the airport?

tomatogrower 3 years, 4 months ago

Leave it to Pat Roberts to defend those people rich enough to own a plane, so they won't have to be bothered with commercial flights. Of course, he would probably be all for eliminating the deduction of mortage interest. I mean, who do these people think they are, thinking they can own their own home. They should live in a company house, then there wouldn't be all this talk about class warfare. They would accept their place in life. The corporations should determine what everyone does, then the world would be a better place.

Rome burns and Roberts is concerned about private jets. Sad.

SinoHawk 3 years, 4 months ago

This isn't about 'the rich'. If you have a company in an area not serviced by major airlines (or only with a few flights), it is often cheaper and more convenient to fly a company plane. For instance: Imagine having a company in Garden City and needing to visit a customer in Springfield, Mo. If you needed to fly commerical, then you would need to drive 2.5 hours to Hays, then pay over $1500 per employee to fly to Denver, then to Fargo. Including time at the airports, you are talking about a communte of more than 10 hours each way (i.e. will require overnight stay). Taking a team of four people would cost easily $8k and take at least 3 days. (not to mention that these commercial flights are heavily subsidized by tax dollars)

If the company owned a four-seat Cessna (KS made), then the round trip could be completed in a day at much lower cost.

General aviation allows for companies to exist in smaller cities, and also opens up the entire country to business. Without vibrant general aviation, countless companies would lose the ability to compete and/or continue to exist outside of a metropolitan area.

Phillbert 3 years, 4 months ago

Pat Roberts is a typical fiscal conservative - all about cutting until it comes time to cut something that he likes.

If he really supported the free market, then he'd be telling this industry to play on the same playing field as the industries that don't get special tax breaks.

ksriver2010 3 years, 4 months ago

I think that every industry gets special tax breaks.

drake 3 years, 4 months ago

Thank you Mr. Roberts.

Obama has been bad mouthing his very own stimulus bill trying to make conservatives look bad. What a joke.

drake 3 years, 4 months ago

Thank you Mr. Roberts.

Obama has been bad mouthing his very own stimulus bill trying to make conservatives look bad. What a joke.

drake 3 years, 4 months ago

Thank you Mr. Roberts.

Obama has been bad mouthing his very own stimulus bill trying to make conservatives look bad. What a joke.

drake 3 years, 4 months ago

Thank you Mr. Roberts.

Obama has been bad mouthing his very own stimulus bill trying to make conservatives look bad. What a joke.

tomatogrower 3 years, 4 months ago

It's funny how it's ok to tell teachers to suck it up, times are hard. But if the rich can't afford to fly their private jets, well, that's just too much of a hardship for them. Who is really creating the class warfare, Roberts?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

Please tell us how the tasks performed by "private" teachers differ from those who work for public schools.

drake 3 years, 4 months ago

"General aviation employs more than 1.2 million workers, and annually contributes $150 billion to the U.S. economy. In 2010, general aviation delivered 1,334 planes valued at $7.9 billion, with well over half attributed to exports — a number that supports President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports over the next five years"

Perhaps you missed this part tomatoboy

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 4 months ago

Why should US taxpayers subsidize the cost of production for exported aircraft? Shouldn't the end users be the ones paying for these planes, rather than US taxpayers?

somedude20 3 years, 4 months ago

This is more important than the debt ceiling and budget problems that are ongoing and threaten the stability of the country? I am sure a puppy right now is going hungry and that sucks but if bigger problems are not fixed, puppy will become dinner!

Jimo 3 years, 4 months ago

Damn. Put out a press release.

Accelerating depreciation of an existing tax scheme isn't the same as questioning whether the tax scheme should even exist. Pat should understand this point - it's the excuse he gives every time he claims credit for a project in Kansas that he voted against!

weeslicket 3 years, 4 months ago

a letter from pat roberts. thanks so much. who do you work for, now?

anywhoos.
anybody else remember the good old days when senators dole and kassebuam actually labored for y/our behalf? anywhoo amongst us?

jayhawxrok 3 years, 4 months ago

I think they can buy all the planes they want, we just don't have to subsidize them. Get corporations off the gov dole for heaven's sake!

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