The humor of unintended consequences: Obama’s “corporate jet” tax whine

Another one you can file under the “Dept. of You Can’t Make This Stuff Up”:

The chief economic culprit of President Obama’s Wednesday press conference was undoubtedly “corporate jets.” He mentioned them on at least six occasions, each time offering their owners as an example of a group that should be paying more in taxes.

“I think it’s only fair to ask an oil company or a corporate jet owner that has done so well,” the president stated at one point, “to give up that tax break that no other business enjoys.”

But the corporate jet tax break to which Obama was referring – called “accelerated depreciation,” and a popular Democratic foil of late – was created by his own stimulus package.

Proponents of the tax break lauded it as a means to spur economic activity by encouraging purchases of large manufactured goods (planes). So the president’s statement today – and his call to repeal that tax break generally – is either a tacit admission that the stimulus included projects that did not, in fact, stimulate the economy, or an attempt to “soak the rich” without regard for the policy’s effects on the economy.

I’d say it’s more of a “soak the rich” thing:

President Obama has a new term for the people he wants to tax more: jet owners.

In his news conference today, the president said: “I think it’s only fair to ask an oil company or a corporate jet owner that’s doing so well to give up that tax break….I don’t think that’s real radical.”

Asking private-jet owners to give up tax breaks may not be that radical. And it probably would be supported by the vast majority of the nonjet-owning voters.

The problem is that most of the people that would be subject to the higher taxes the president wants aren’t likely to be private-jet owners. Someone earning $250,000 a year–among those scheduled for a tax increase in 2012–is unlikely to afford a jet–or even a few charter trips on a jet.

Read the whole thing for a “Jetonomics” breakdown.

Methinks the “corporate jet owners” line has become the 2011 class warfare version of “fat cat CEOs” – after all, Obama can’t be too hard on the very types of folks he’s been trying to woo 2012 campaign cash from these last several months, can he? This noticeable shift in rhetoric is a far cry from how he was talking about Wall Street just last year.

“Change” you can believe in, and all that. /:)

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