Updated on Aug. 28 at 2:38 pm EDT
President Barack Obama has zeroed in on tax breaks for corporate jets as a way to reduce the federal deficit.
Now, some of those jet passengers may be returning fire.
Corporate jets are starting to buzz air control at Tampa International Airport, where Republicans are holding their political convention to nominate Mitt Romney for president. Cessna’s Citations appear to be the craft of choice, outpacing French-made Dassaults, as well as the Gulfstream V, the president’s plane for unofficial business.
A three-engine, ten-seat Dassault Falcon 50, registered to John R. Miller Enterprises III LLC of Salt Lake City Utah, landed at Tampa at 2:57 PM today, according to Flightaware.com, a website that tracks the registration and routes of airplanes. That’s likely the aeroplane belonging to Salt Lake City Romney donor, John R. Miller, the former CEO of National Beef Packing Company. He was also national co-chairman of Romney’s finance committee in 2008.
A message left for Miller at Solamere Capital LLC, a Boston-based private equity firm where Miller is an operating partner, wasn’t returned.
In the last 48 hours, four Cessna Citations have landed at Tampa. A pair of Dassault Falcons have touched down and two different makes of Gulfstreams, according to Flighware.com. Republican planners expect more to arrive later in the week, leading up to Romney’s August 30 acceptance speech.
Obama has proposed ending tax break for corporate jet owners, which could save Treasury an estimated 3 billion over a decade.
“It would be hard for the Republicans to stand there and say that the tax break for corporate jets is sufficiently important that we’re not willing to come to the table and get a deal done,” Obama said during at a White House news conference on June 29, 2011 as he sought to pressure Republicans to increase the debt limit. He mentioned corporate jets six times in that single press conference.
But if members of the corporate jet-set are easily vilified, they are not easily traced. Most of the mid-sized, long-range corporate jets that have landed in Tampa are registered to private charter companies like Flight Options or Netjets, making it difficult to know just which corporations — or people, as Romney would say — are reclining in their leather seats at 35,000 feet.
For example, a Cessna Citation X, which is billed as fastest civilian aircraft in production, with a top speed of Mach .92, arrived from Chester, PA, at 11:30 AM this morning. Its tail number, OPT732, is registered to a Flight Options, a Cleveland, Ohio-bassed company that claims to be the second-largest company in the private jet industry.
A Gulfstream V, operated by Executive Jet Management, landed yesterday from New Jersey Teterboro’s airport, which has shorter security lines than Newark.
For those unawares, the Citation v. Gulfstream debate comes down to speed v. distance. The Citations X is faster, but the G-V has a range of close to 6,000 nautical miles, which can get you to Tokyo without refueling.
Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, has access to a private jet for its executives’ use.
And Obama himself is not unfamiliar with the mosquito ascent and wood-paneled interior of the G-V, even if he wants to change their tax depreciation schedule.
He boarded one of the Air Force’s G-Vs when he hopped to New York City in June 2009 to take First Lady Michelle Obama to a dinner and a show. By virtue of the president being on the plane, it was Air Force One for the night.
The press flew off his wing in an identical plane, and yes, the world looks different from a G-V.