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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

jayhawxrok 2 years, 8 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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weeslicket 2 years, 8 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?

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Jimo 2 years, 8 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!

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somedude20 2 years, 8 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!

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drake 2 years, 8 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

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tomatogrower 2 years, 8 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?

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drake 2 years, 8 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.

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drake 2 years, 8 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.

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drake 2 years, 8 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.

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drake 2 years, 8 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.

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Phillbert 2 years, 8 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.

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tomatogrower 2 years, 8 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.

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Liberty_One 2 years, 8 months ago

The problem is that such consequences are not obvious and thus are easily overlooked when politicians and pundits are looking for easy targets.

This is what government control of the economy leads to, though: the war of all against all. Everyone is going after everyone else instead of cooperating and conducting commerce.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 8 months ago

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

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cato_the_elder 2 years, 8 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.

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