September 15th, 2011


Dear Obama: please stop picking on aviation?

President Obama promised again this week to help the economy by increasing taxes on companies that own corporate jets. The details: he wants to get rid of "bonus depreciation", which accelerates the depreciation of business aircraft for tax writeoffs. He'd raise $3 billion over ten years, like that'd somehow make a miraculous dent in his $447 billion jobs plan. The weirdest thing about it is that he's calling this specific line item out in speeches, like he always does, to point out how evil corporate jets are, how rich these corporate fat cats are, how it won't affect the little guy.

Well, except me, the engineer who works at a jet company.

I've written before about how jets are productivity tools; if you want to do business in Topeka, Kansas you can't exactly hop on Jet Blue. I've asked why we don't single out laptop computers or shiny conference room tables as "fat cat luxury items". I've brought up the fact that general aviation airplanes are a notable US export in a world where we buy our cars and electronics from everybody else.

And this may be incidental, but I also talk about how I like my job.

But Obama just keeps throwing us under the bus. In fact you know what? It's getting weird. And I'm not the only one saying it's getting weird, the Wichita Eagle pointed it out in their editorial this week, which at this point must be approaching the "stock Obama jet hate editorial" status:

Does President Obama have something against the men and women who build business jets? Because he is harming them — not fat-cat CEOs — in targeting and bad-mouthing jet ownership.

And last summer Michael Barone of the Washington Examiner said Obama seems to have a strange fixation on corporate jets as a divisive target... why?

AOPA, EAA, state governors and thousands of workers have sent letters, held events, tried to get the attention of the administration that corporate jets aren't evil. It's not working.

Of course I think bonus depreciation is a good for businesses and we should keep it around. But even more I wish Obama would quit criticizing the business jet in speeches, quit acting like companies that own them are privileged, swimming in cash, and, well, EVIL. Some companies need their own airplane to do business... they need to go places and meet people and commercial aviation isn't going to work for them. Are you "evil" if you own a car even though a city bus passes a mile from your house every hour?

I want to like Obama. I voted for Obama!

I feel like he doesn't like me!