Kathryn A Wolfe Politico
Jet Set Grounds Obama
October 4, 2012
  • Share
  • By Kathryn A Wolfe
    The NBAA called Obama’s comments ‘unfortunate.’

    Corporate jet backers have a message for President Barack Obama: Your tax talk doesn’t fly with us.

    The business aviation lobby is again defending its image following the president’s call during Wednesday’s debate to end a tax break for corporate jet owners.

    Obama’s remarks came as he was outlining how he could help the economy by doing away with various forms of what he called corporate welfare — including tax breaks for Big Oil and corporate jets.

    “Why wouldn’t we eliminate tax breaks for corporate jets? My attitude is, if you got a corporate jet, you can probably afford to pay full freight, not get a special break for it,” Obama said.

    The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), which represents businesses that own private jets, called Obama’s comments “unfortunate.”

    “The president’s comments completely mischaracterized the businesses and groups that depend on an airplane, the majority of which are small-to-mid-sized businesses, farms, flight schools, medical care providers and emergency responders that use the aircraft to connect communities and grow their businesses,” said Ed Bolen, NBAA’s president, in a statement.

    But aside from a continuing public relations problem, the business aviation lobby probably doesn’t have much to worry about.

    Obama and Democrats in Congress have sought repeatedly to eliminate a tax break for purchasing business jets, so far unsuccessfully. A proposal was included in Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request. And Democrats pressed for it to be included in last year’s debt ceiling deal.

    The tax break in question allows taxes on corporate jets to be depreciated over a period of five years, as opposed to the seven years allowed for commercial airliners. Obama and Democrats have proposed bringing the corporate jet depreciation schedule in line with that of airliners. It’s estimated to save about $3 billion over 10 years.

    The business jet lobby is no stranger to criticism — in 2008, auto industry executives came to D.C. in a fleet of corporate planes to ask for a bailout, igniting a firestorm of outrage for both jet owners and auto executives that has continued off and on to this day.