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Even The West Wing Rejected Obama’s ‘Private Jet’ Meme


From the Wall Street Journal:

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.

This is true, and it is worth hammering home that the wanton conflation of “private jet owners” (i.e. the super-rich) and those who earn $250,000 a year is insidious and unfair. But it also worth pointing out — as very few have — that the “tax cut” on private jets was not the product of a Republican bill, and it was not the brainchild of George W. Bush, but was, in fact, part of the “stimulus” bill written and passed by a Democratic congress, and signed by President Obama. Given its genesis, it is somewhat absurd that “private jet owners” has become a proxy for “Republican rich people.” 

The meme takes on a stranger edge if one remembers NBC’s show The West Wing. There was an early episode which tracked the writing of a presidential speech. One of the key debates was over whether or not the fictional President Bartlet should mention “private jet owners” when prosletyzing for higher taxes on the rich. Sam Seaborn, deputy White House communications director in the show, was against the move, calling it “bad writing,” and arguing that such a device “sounds like it was written by a high school girl.” If even hyper-liberal shows such as The West Wing could see the cartoonish nature of the practice, then the game is up for Obama. The episode finished with Seaborn concluding that “the top 1 percent of wage earners in this country pay for 22 percent of this country. Let’s not call them names while they’re doing it.” Amen.


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