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Outrage Over Normal

June 30, 2011

Over at Michelle Malkin’s site, Doug Powers notes the continuation of a trend. The original is from the Hertiage Foundation, and I’ll start there.  This week, while bemoaning the fact that rich people can buy jets, the president managed to step on a feature of the stimulus he supported and said was necessary.  The problem?  Tax breaks for airplane depreciation.

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.

For many Americans, those effects could be dramatic. Cessna and Gulfstream have facilities in a combined 15 cities nationwide (and another four abroad). A significant decline in consumption of private jets would undoubtedly have adverse effects on at least some of those local economies. Given the sizable bump in consumption that the initial tax break yielded, its repeal would likely have that economic domino effect.

 So my first comment falls into the “whatever” category.  Politicians say stuff because it makes a good sound byte, and they do so in an effort to make it seem like they’re rooting for the common man.  Whee.  This also is being done by those using this example because it’s an example of them deciding to be “fiscally responsible” by eliminating waste in the tax system.

So first, if you want to go for big money in the tax system, eliminate the tax break for home ownership or charitable deductions.  Except, this probably won’t happen, because boatloads of people use those, and they’ll be mad.  Sure, it’d save a pile of money.  But it’s political suicide to suggest things like that.

I’m not saying to eliminate either.  My wife and I will occasionally look at ways to save money, and we’ll talk about cutting back on the TV bill, or stopping one of our monthly charity donations.  In the end, though, the savings don’t seem to mean much compared to the change in lifestyle. (For the record, I did cancel my Sunday Ticket, but that’s because I’m convinced there will be no football this year… different post.)

But really… all this is doing is posturing over something to seem effective while ignoring real options because they’d be hard.  Maybe the president should instead drop vacation and get with congress on how to make substantive budget cuts so that we can finally pass a budget after a couple years.

In the mean time, posturing of how people are different just means you don’t have any ideas.  Be outraged over that, I’d think, especially since neither the president nor congress appear to be serious about finding ways to compromise on a serious emergency.

Updated:

I wanted to say more earlier, but the connection in the hotel was not being kind to me…

I’d like to note that it might be time to start blanket-cutting some of the tax breaks.  That is, if we’re going to cut energy breaks, then we should cut them all.  I understand the Republican argument that it’s not wise to cut these breaks during a weak economy, but what the heck.  It’s also not smart for me to keep six TVs running in my house when I’m not living there (hypothetical example).

Also, my comment on the rhetoric is more frustration that people are spending time thinking garbage like this up when they could instead be spending time on results.  As I suggested to some friends in my meetings this week: Stop Promising.  Start Delivering.

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