This is What Good Reporting Looks Like

Remember when the President couldn’t seem to go a single speech without mentioning tax breaks on private jets as a symbol of all that was wrong with out budgeting priorities. I hadn’t noticed that the White House had returned to this theme lately, but Jonathan Karl at ABC did:

President Obama in an interview Wednesday with KAKE-TV in Wichita: “What
we don’t want to do is give somebody who’s buying a corporate jet an
extra tax break.”

Carney has brought up the corporate jet tax break at every single briefing this week.

Listening to the White House, you might think that the “balanced”
Democratic plan to avert the spending cuts would close that loophole for
private jets.

But you would be wrong.

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 doesn’t stop there. He, or someone at ABC, actually asked Carney about the disconnect between his oft-stated desire to see the “loophole” closed and the Democratic plan (endorsed by the White House) which fails to close it. Carney offers a rambling response which Karl prints in full. But Karl doesn’t stop there. He actually looks at the policy the White House is harping on and finds:

Even if the Senate plan did end the tax break for private jets, it
wouldn’t make much of a difference
. The tax break – which allows the
owners of private jets to depreciate their airplanes over five years
instead of the standard seven years for commercial airplanes – would
raise less than $300 million a year. That’s a tiny fraction of the $85
billion in across-the-board cuts scheduled to go into effect this year. [Emphasis mine]

All of this is so obviously relevant and worth saying. Yet this sort of thing frequently gets ignored or treated as partisan bickering with no wider context. Kudos to Jonathan Karl for this excellent report.