February 22, 2013

In recent weeks, White House officials have repeatedly suggested that changes to business aviation tax policies may be necessary for reducing the deficit and avoiding cuts in government spending (often referred to as “sequestration“) in Washington. As the administration has pressed its case, White House officials’ comments have often painted business aviation with a negative brush.

NBAA’s public statements calling the White House rhetoric into question have been echoed by House and Senate lawmakers, whose remarks in floor speeches and committee hearings have underscored their concern over the administration’s repeated mischaracterization of business aviation.

Additionally, leaders with organized labor and champions for small business have weighed in, putting forward the facts about business aviation’s importance and calling upon the White House to stop targeting the industry with “job-killing“ tax proposals.

This week, news media organizations also waded into the debate, calling into question the administration’s rhetoric about business aviation, and the effectiveness of its tax proposals for the industry in reducing the deficit or averting the sequester.

For example, during a Feb. 20 White House press briefing, a reporter from the Wichita, KS, ABC affiliate KAKE-TV asked spokesman Jay Carney what he would say to the tens of thousands of airplane-manufacturing workers in states including Kansas, Ohio, Washington and Oklahoma, who could lose their jobs because the administration’s rhetoric and proposals regarding business aviation could prompt a decline in demand for the aircraft.

Carney replied that those job losses might simply be a product of the “difficult choices“ required for reducing the deficit. A reporter with FOX News offered that Carney’s response to the KAKE TV reporter wasn’t “such a great answer.“

According to the Capitol Hill newspaper Politico, one reporter at the daily press briefing followed Carney’s remarks by questioning whether the White House’s focus on business aviation was really an effective policy solution in the debate over the deficit and sequester.

“Can we acknowledge here that closing the loophole for corporate jet owners… is not going to solve your sequester problem?,“ the reporter is quoted as asking in Politico’s account of the press briefing.

The back-and-forth with the White House went on throughout the day. When the KAKE-TV reporter at the White House press briefing was given a separate interview with President Obama, she renewed her line of questioning.

The president told the reporter, “The reason people buy corporate jets is because it’s extremely convenient and they can afford it.“

That assertion prompted NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen to reply: “The White House is promoting a caricature of business aviation that is at odds with reality.“

He noted that 85 percent of companies using an airplane to help build their businesses are small or mid-size, and are most often flying to or from communities with little or no airline service.

“For these companies, trying to be efficient and productive enough to compete in an extraordinarily difficult economy, business aviation is not a ‘convenience’ – it’s a critical tool that allows them to reach more places in less time, quickly move people and parts, and work in an environment where employees can discuss proprietary information without fear of eavesdropping.“

Read an overview of the voices questioning the remarks and policy proposals from the White House regarding business aviation.