September 16, 2011 By: Tom Coble
From Tom Coble, CEO of Coble Trench Safety in Greensboro and winner of the 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Carolinas:
As the president and lawmakers return to Washington and turn their attention to job creation, one key item on the agenda should be to halt the class warfare rhetoric and vilification of the small aircraft used by businesses daily to connect citizens in many communities to goods, resources and services. The president and some in Congress have not only vilified the use of such aircraft, but have proposed additional taxes on aircraft use. While such rhetoric may score political points, it is a direct hit to the businesses that drive our economy and that need every possible tool to stay afloat in an increasingly competitive world.
All over our country the use of general aviation allows businesses to reach distant plants and offices, visit with customers, and conduct meetings throughout different regions and often in one day. I personally pilot a Beechcraft King Air B-200 to 11 branch locations in six states.
The orders of these planes help to support a thriving U.S.-based general aviation manufacturing industry that is one of the only manufacturing industries in the U.S. that contributes positively to the balance of trade.
All told, the industry generates over $150 billion in economic impact and supports 1.2 million good, American jobs. These jobs include suppliers, manufacturers, repair stations and personnel at airports. In addition, 85 percent of the businesses that rely on general aviation are small to mid-sized businesses carrying everyone from technicians to middle management employees. Yet, this industry takes a beating from senseless and ongoing vilification, and our economy has suffered as a result. In the first 6 months of 2011, for example, general aviation shipments were down 15.5 percent from the same period in 2010, and this trend will continue if the president and our lawmakers keep it up.
One particularly alarming manifestation of this wide-ranging demagoguery of general aviation has been the reinvigoration of a potential “user fee” tax on general aviation aircraft as part of the deficit reduction debate in Congress. This type of tax has been considered before, and each time has been dismissed with good cause. A user fee tax on every take-off and landing would have a devastating impact on the small businesses that comprise 85 percent of all business aircraft operations, as well as the countless farms across our country that rely on daily aerial spraying to maintain their crops. This proposal would require a bloated new bureaucracy within the FAA to administer these fees – and this at a time when the supposed justification for such taxes is reducing government spending. In addition, thousands of businesses around the country would suffer under an immense bureaucratic burden of trying to keep track of and administer all these taxes.
We need to stimulate business growth. How can we as a nation look to businesses to once again hire and expand while we also vilify the very tools they count on to increase their productivity? It’s about time we got our nation’s businesses flying high again, and that means not taxing them to death and penalizing all the tools that are needed to remain competitive.
Source: THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER