Air Capital Insider

Molly McMillin shares inside knowledge of Wichita’s aviation industry

Wichita mayor responds to remarks about Obama's corporate jet statement in presidential debate

10/08/2012 11:32 AM

08/08/2014 10:12 AM

Minutes after President Obama said that corporate jet owners should pay more taxes, former Cessna CEO Jack Pelton e-mailed Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer asking for his help in getting the truth out about the positive impact of the business jet market — one that employs thousands of people in Wichita and around the country.

Brewer, who attended the Democratic convention, responded to Pelton in an e-mail on Saturday, saying that he shares Pelton’s concerns.

In 2009 and 2010, he sent letters to Obama, urging him to pay attention to the “economic value of this critical industry,” Brewer told him.

“Since the issuance of those letters, my position has remained the same,” he said.

Pelton’s e-mail noted that it took Obama not more than 30 minutes to comment on business jets.

“Why wouldn't we eliminate tax breaks for corporate jets?" Obama asked before 58 million viewers watching the debate. "My attitude is, if you got a corporate jet, you can probably afford to pay full freight, not get a special break for it."

Obama was referring to the ability to depreciate a new jet faster when purchased for business purposes. That ability expires at the end of 2012 unless it’s extended.

“Within 30 minutes into the debate tonight, the President made the comment that people who own business jets should pay more taxes,” Pelton said in the e-mail.

“This statement is simply ill informed as to who operate business jets and more important, damning to the great people who work on the production lines here in Wichita.”

The business climate for the industry continues to be at an “all-time low,” Pelton said. And the lack of recovery continues to plague Wichita manufacturers. Obama’s remarks are infuriating, because it ignores the positive impact the industry brings to the economy, he said.

Last year, Brewer noted that he joined other state and community leaders in welcoming U.S. Transportation secretary Ray LaHood to Wichita, where he spoke at Cessna.

“Our message was clear: Aviation is vital to the nation’s economy and to the President’s goal of doubling exports,” he said.

“Going forward, I will continue to defend the aviation industry, and will make every effort to take our message to our President,” Brewer wrote.

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