Jacob Sullum
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According to the White House website, President Obama enjoys the comfort and convenience of two "highly customized" Boeing 747s with "4,000 square feet of floor space on three levels," including " a medical suite," two galleys that "can feed 100 people at a time" and "an extensive suite for the President that features a large office, lavatory, and conference room" -- all at taxpayer expense. But as he proved at his press conference on Monday, where he once again inveighed against "these egregious loopholes that are benefiting corporate jet owners," Obama cannot stop complaining about other people's fancy airplanes.

After all, children's lives are at stake. "You go talk to your constituents," the president recalled telling Republican leaders last month, "and ask them are they willing to compromise their kids' safety so that some corporate jet owner continues to get a tax break. And I'm pretty sure what the answer would be." Me, too: "Huh?" There is a legitimate point here about the unfair, irrational complexity of the tax code, but it is buried beneath so much cheap demagoguery that getting to it may require a backhoe.

Obama objects to the fact that owners of corporate jets can write off the cost of their purchases over five years instead of the seven required for commercial aircraft. If this policy continues, he warned at a press conference two weeks ago, "it means that food inspection might be compromised," along with college scholarships, medical research, the National Weather Service and Medicare.

The revenue to be gained from a slower depreciation schedule for corporate jets, writes The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler, is "so small the White House could not even provide an estimate." Republican congressional staffers say it amounts to about $3 billion over a decade, or $300 million a year, which is 0.02 percent of this year's budget deficit. If Obama can fund food inspection, college scholarships, medical research, the National Weather Service and Medicare for that amount, he should have no trouble balancing the budget without raising taxes.

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Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
 
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