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July 12, 2011 8:56 pm

Are Jet Owners Really the Problem?

avatar by Morgan P. Muchnick

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The Bombardier Challenger 300 private jet.

There have been many recent cries of frustration emanating from the business community following last week’s Presidential Press Conference dealing primarily with the ongoing struggles facing the U.S. economy. Interestingly, many are focusing on the surprisingly specific attacks on “private jet owners,” which appear to be the newest iteration of the Democratic Party’s version of the “fat cat” and rhetorical punching bag. While on the surface it is true that President Obama’s class warfare is focused on a nuance in the tax code dealing with private jet depreciation schedules, it is also a code for the “wealthy” in America.

In reality, I believe, the President is appealing to a time honored Democratic and Populist message by condemning the accumulation of wealth while secretly planning on continuing his plan to raise taxes on individuals and families that earn $250,000, far less than the “private jet owners” he persistently attacks.

President Obama’s definition of the super wealthy is not even upper middle-class in most major U.S. cities and is totally inappropriate when applied to most small business owners. Many of my readers live in New York City. I am quite confident they will confirm the fact that $250,000 for a family of five in Manhattan is far from rich. This issue was argued during the 2008 election and to be fair, President Obama campaigned on raising taxes. However, his refusal to be honest with the American people about his intentions by demonizing “jet owners” must be pointed out.

This is the crux of the President’s maddening economic demagoguery – that there is even a slight similarity between a middle-class family in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, or Dallas and a multi-millionaire who owns his own jet. If President Obama were to propose a modest tax increase for those earning $10 million or more, I am quite confident he would achieve much less pushback. However, his unbridled attack on people who are nowhere close to being able to own a private jet is classic leftist class warfare that I hoped had died some time ago.

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Clearly, the President is appealing to his political base, which is not a shocking development in the midst of a political season. However, it is possibly holding back a very weak recovery and an almost nonexistent jobs recovery. If the President publically embraced a pro-growth agenda, even for just a few years, and stopped attacking job creators, he would provide a much-needed shot in the arm to the inchoate recovery.

From a policy point-of-view, many have articulated how asinine it is to attack the jet industry, or any industry for that matter, while we are still above 9% unemployment with the real unemployment number being much higher.

Furthermore, the potential new revenue generated by such a tax increase would likely prove to be negligible when measured against the scope of our deficit problem. However, the President and Democratic strategists rightly believe private jet owners conjure up the image of the uber wealthy that many Americans resent.

As the nation is drifting toward the next big election cycle in 2012, there are some who believe President Obama will begin to moderate his policy positions or at least his public rhetoric. This has been the case in some areas, such as foreign policy. However, what we are seeing now shows that, by and large, President Obama is the same man as Senator Obama and candidate Obama as pertains to economic policy.

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