President Barack Obama’s proposal to end a tax break for corporate jet owners, a repeated refrain in his news conference yesterday, would achieve less than one-tenth of 1 percent of his target for reducing the federal deficit...Here's a pair of questions that none of the President's leg-humpers ever seem to want to ask: what is the 'tax break for corporate jet owners' and where did it come from?* But here, for the edification of my reading audience, is the underwhelming answer.
Obama mentioned the corporate jet break six times, criticizing Republicans’ unwillingness to include tax increases in legislation to raise the federal debt ceiling.
The 'tax break' is a rule that allows the depreciation on certain jets to be taken over five years instead of seven on a corporation's income tax form. That's it. That's the tax break. It's a freaking miniscule accounting rule that was created to encourage corporations to buy jets, many of which are made right here in good old Kansas. It's a stupid rule, surely**, but it's hardly worth six mentions in one speech, given that it would raise a whopping $300 million dollars a year using even the government's own rosy figures. The Bitter Half can spend that much on a week-long fact-finding trip to the Spanish Mediterranean.
But secondly, as Bob Weeks notes, the tax change
was designed to provide a stimulus to a specific industry. And if that term “stimulus” seems familiar, the legislation that created this accelerated depreciation incentive was part of H.R. 1: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as ARRA, also known as the stimulus bill, and one of the first legislative initiatives by President Obama.In other words, Obama is railing against a corporate tax break that Obama signed, which was passed through the House of Representatives without a single Republican vote, and the Senate with only two***. And somehow this sop to the rich is the GOP's fault. If Obama was honest, he'd be the first to admit that he and his party are solely responsible for this 'break,' this 'dodge,' this taking of food out of the mouths of starving children from sea to shining sea, and then he would beg the Republicans to help him clean up his mess. If he was honest. Which is why I expect to hear his silliness repeated eight times the next time he's on TV.
UPDATE: Even the Washington Post gives Obama 2 Pinocchio noses for that news conference. And if he's lost the Washington Post, he's lost middle America.
* Because they already know it's a check written by Uncle Sam to people who buy corporate jets as a reward for being rich capitalist running dogs. And it was George Bush's idea.
** 99% of such rules designed to help one company or industry have unintended consequences that are at least as bad as the rule is good, even when the rule does everything its designers intend, which is seldom. It's safe to assume that all such rules are stupid, or at least passed by stupid people.
*** One of whom, Arlen Specter, actually became a Democrat in the following months. The other, Olympia Snowe of Maine, was once indicted for being a Republican. The charges were dismissed for lack of evidence.