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January 21, 2009

Frank talk on corporate jets gets a good grounding in Congress

Posted: 04:08 PM ET

Note from reporter: Congressman and Senators love to get a lot of press when initiating bold, new legislation, tough talking amendments or major initiatives.

One of the reasons they seek media attention on the "front-end" is because they know, as do those of us who cover them, that it is very rare anything ever really gets done on the"back end".

Most new legislation winds up going nowhere. In our continuing effort to "Keep Them Honest" here is a look at one of those bold proposals that went nowhere almost immediately upon its introduction .

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When those auto makers flew to congress in corporate jets to ask for a taxpayer bail out, no one was more upset than the powerful chairman of the house financial services  committee, Rep. Barney Frank(D-MA).

So irate over the use of corporate jets, Frank was determined to make sure it never happened again. His plan, no corporate executives coming to Washington asking for bailout money would be allowed to travel in those multi-million dollar symbols of excess.

 To make sure corporate America got the message, Mr. Frank dropped a provision into the latest bailout bill, H.R. 384, the TARP Reform and Accountability Act, requiring would-be recipients of taxpayer funds to dump their corporate fleets. Basically, if you want taxpayer money, sell your jet and fly commercial.
 
That sure sounded tough. And it sure sent a message to the automakers. When they came back to Washington they drove.

 But it turns out Rep. Barney Frank may have overreacted. Last week Rep. Frank quietly stripped the no-jet provision from the bill. Why? Kansas.

 Kansas is a hub of aircraft manufacturing, particularly the making of corporate jets. Fellow democrat Rep. Dennis Moore (D-KS)sent a note to Congressman Frank delicately suggesting the powerful chairman re-think the tough talk.

 "We have to be careful about congress overreacting," Moore wrote in a statement.

 What he wrote to Chairman Frank was more diplomatic.

 "It is clear that the auto executives were insensitive to American taxpayers when they flew in their private jets to request billions of dollars. But I have concerns that applying this well-intended provision may have unintended consequences of hurting the general aviation industry and its  workers."

The congressman pointed out pointed out 44-thousand workers in Kansas work directly for the airplane manufacturing industry, and a lot of families depend on those paychecks.

Last Tuesday the "no-fly" language was dropped, and yet another get tough message from Congress got a soft landing.

Late today, Chairman Frank sent a statement to CNN explaining why.

Here it is: "The private aircraft industry is an important industry in America, and it plays a necessary role with businesses in certain areas of the country.

For example, there are a number of communities that do not have commercial air service available for hundreds of miles.

Some of these communities are already in economic distress, and denying businesses the ability to use private aircraft further disadvantages these businesses and seriously impacts thousands of American jobs that provide services to this industry.

 I heard from many members of Congress from both parties representing a half a dozen states expressing concerns of their constituents in regard to this matter and hence why we further reviewed the issue and ultimately removed it from the legislation."

Filed under: Drew Griffin • Politics • Special Investigations Unit


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Rose Johnson   January 27th, 2009 6:35 pm ET

Please Tell Donna Bash address President Obama as President
not Mr. Obama I have watched her on Sunday and again today and
also heared a news caster say she do not need to been on CNN
for the world to see and hear her dis respect the President of the USA.

Mad in South Carolina


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