When you’re on your way to ask for billions for your industry …
… is it really a wise move to get to your destination by flying in a private luxury jet?
(CNN) — Some lawmakers lashed out at the CEOs of the Big Three auto companies Wednesday for flying private jets to Washington to request taxpayer bailout money.
“There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they’re going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses,” Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, told the chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.
“It’s almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious.”
He added, “couldn’t you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it.”
The executives — Alan Mulally of Ford, Robert Nardelli of Chrysler and Richard Wagoner of GM — were seeking support for a $25 billion loan package. Later Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reversed plans to hold a test vote on the measure.
An aide told CNN that Reid decided to cancel the test vote when it became clear the measure would fall well short of the 60 votes needed. Reid did, however, make a procedural move that could allow a vote on a compromise, which several senators from auto-producing states were feverishly trying to craft.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, pressed the private-jet issue, asking the three CEOs to “raise their hand if they flew here commercial.”
Let the record show, no hands went up,” Sherman said. “Second, I’m going to ask you to raise your hand if you are planning to sell your jet in place now and fly back commercial. Let the record show, no hands went up.”
I can see the point in bringing up the issue, but I’m torn about it at the same time. Everyone knows these guys are rich anyway – would flying commercial to Washington, DC change that? To me, it would come off as a stunt. I mean, it’s kind of like a gang member showing up for his 10th court appearance wearing a modest suit and tie. Or a murderess showing up for her trial dressed as a schoolmarm. C’mon. We know what these people are about; does how they’re dressed … or how they get to their destination really change that? Is the symbolism really that important? Do any of us think that even if the Big 3 flew to DC first class commercial that it would change who they were once they got back to Detroit?
On the other hand, you have to laugh the posturing by the House members on the committee. Do you think they’d make similar remarks to The Goracle if he made use of a jumbo jet (as he has before when attending other functions) to attend a global warming hearing in DC? Unlike the automakers, Gore’s whole life revolves around preaching to and compelling others to sacrifice a little bit of their safety and comfort for “the greater good of the environment” even though he routinely, in turn, does not.