POLITICS

Sequestration fight between White House and Rep. Pompeo turns personal

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Photo - President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Politics,Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

After Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., faulted President Obama yesterday for attacking a “tax loophole for corporate jets” that benefits farmers who own crop dusters, the White House offered him as the face of Republican obstinence on sequestration today.

“Are Republicans in Congress really willing to let these cuts fall on our kids’ schools and mental health care just to protect tax loopholes for corporate jet owners?” Obama asked in his weekly address on Saturday while calling for Republicans to raise taxes in order to avoid the automatic spending cuts mandated by sequestration. Closing the “loophole” would raise about $30 million a year, thereby doing little to offset the $85 billion spending reduction required this year under the sequester.

Pompeo dismissed such remarks as “intellectually dishonest” demagoguery, noting that “there is no such things as a ‘corporate jet tax loophole’” — corporate jets are taxed in the same way as all other non-military, non-airline planes.

“[I]t makes little sense for an American Airlines’ Boeing 747 to have the same depreciation schedule as a Kansas farmer’s Air Tractor,” Pompeo wrote in a letter to Obama yesterday. “Singling out general aviation for tax punishment is not only unfair, but it would also dramatically harm the entire $150 billion industry. Instead of impacting CEO’s of large multinational corporations, whom you pretend to target, the only people who will feel this pain is the 1.2 million workers, many of whom are union members, who make a living building and servicing these aircraft.”

“Mr. President, your irresponsibility in dealing with this issue is simply astonishing,” he concluded. “I urge you to get the facts and stop trying to kill good-paying American jobs, simply to increase the size of government and stoke the fires of class warfare.

Obama’s spokesman countered by saying it was Pompeo, not Obama, who doesn’t care about American workers. “[W]e’ve seen comments, as we did from Congressman Pompeo, a Republican Congressman, that suggests a different course of action,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during a press gaggle today.  “He said it would be a home run politically for Republicans to see sequester implemented.  I wonder if he would say that to the 90,000 Defense Department workers in Virginia who would see their pay cut because of furloughs, or the thousands of Virginians who would lose their jobs because of sequester if it were allowed to be implemented.  We certainly don’t think that’s a home run for ordinary Americans, even if that Congressman thinks it would be for him politically.”

“I said that the sequester is a home run not because it is good politics, but because it begins to put America back on the right fiscal track,” Pompeo responded in a statement. “The President is choosing to make this minor reduction in spending painful—by furloughing people—in order to pursue his twin goals of raising taxes and increasing the size of the federal government . . . If it is really that bad, why has he not sent a different set of cuts?  The President’s actions—claiming to be upset about the sequester and traveling to Virginia to confuse workers there—are at best disingenuous and at worst just plain mean.”

ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported last week that Obama is only attacking the corporate jet loophole in speeches, not legislation.

“The Senate Democratic plan – which has been endorsed by the White House and is, in fact, the only Democratic plan actively under consideration right now – doesn’t touch corporate jets,” Karl observed.

 

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