January 21st, 2009
04:09 PM ET
10 months ago

SIU: Frank talk on corporate jets gets a good grounding in Congress

Why did Frank tone down the tough talk?
Why did Frank tone down the tough talk?

WASHINGTON (CNN) - When those automakers flew to congress in corporate jets to ask for a taxpayer bailout, no one was more upset than the powerful chairman of the house financial services committee, Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts.

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. The message: 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 last week, Rep. Frank quietly stripped the no-jet provision from the bill. Why?

In a word: Kansas.

Kansas is a hub of aircraft manufacturing, particularly the making of corporate jets. One of Frank's fellow Democrat congressmen, Rep. Dennis Moore of Kansas, sent the powerful chairman a note that delicately suggested he re-think the tough talk.

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

What he told CNN 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," wrote Moore. "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 that 44,000 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 his decision. "The private aircraft industry is an important industry in America, and it plays a necessary role with businesses in certain areas of the country," he wrote. "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: Barney Frank
soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    Haha ha ha... because the federal reserve does not belong to him either.

    January 21, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. Lisa P

    And thus is legislation, and sausage, made...

    January 21, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  3. RobK

    The real reason: Most of Congress is in bed with the financial industry. And we can't give those CEO's the same treatment we gave the auto execs. We have to bow and kiss their shoes. And give them 1.5 trillion dollars. (compared to 15 billion for the auto companies who actually make a useful product rather than leach off everyone else)

    January 21, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Darko

    How does this guy still have a job?
    Oh...he's Nancy's pet .

    Put him and Chris Dodd on the stand already.

    January 21, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  5. Jim Ledbetter

    It is more dumping on the Unions. The unions are not the problem, it is the auto executives.

    January 21, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  6. matthew

    Hey Barney why dont you change the law that broke the banks instead of worrying about corporate jets. You have had plenty of warning and you refused to tighten the reins on fannie mae and freddie mac. Stop allowing people to get loans that cant afford them.

    January 21, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. Matt

    Yeah that is one reason he has to change his tune. The other is the hypocrite standing next to him. The auto CEO's get to fly around in jets paid for by their company. Pelosi, Reid and Frank get their own private jet paid for by you and me. Pelosi flies back and forth every week as well or so she said she needs to when she demanded the taxpayers pay for her flights and her private jet.

    I guess it is just OK for Senators to not fly commercial but for the rest of us its fine. Parish the thought they would actually have to interact with the people they serve.

    Bring about a end to the ruling elite in America. Demand term limits on Senators.

    January 21, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  8. Thomas J

    Will somebody please get this man a speach therapist?

    January 21, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  9. J.P.

    Barney Frank:
    One of the biggest ducks in the pond regarding the housing collapse.

    But let us not forget Jimmy Carter and his Community Reinvestment Act, too. Woo hoo! Food Stamp Mortgages for everyone!

    January 21, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  10. Darth Vadik, CA

    Do you know why conservatives don't like Frank...

    ...no not because he is gay....

    ...because he puts them in their place.

    January 21, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  11. juniorb

    ...so much time spent on so small an issue...if common sense was to prevail, government would be so much more efficient in dealing with the big issues.

    January 21, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  12. Allen Dymond

    No earmarks, no pork barrels, no this, no thar. but it seems this reversal demonstrates that the business as usual rhythm is rapidly falling into place now that the election fever is subsiding.
    People of Mr. Franks ilk are fervently in favor of promoting evolution as concerns human life, but when it comes to economics we often do not let the natural course of events evolve freely. In this case for the sake of "a half dozen states" Mr. Frank is forgoing what he concluded was in the best interest of all of the United States.
    Same ol' same ol'.

    January 21, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  13. Meka

    CONGRESS TERM LIMITS . . . 12 YEARS, NO RETIREMENT!

    This will solve most of our Government's Problems.

    AND, it will save Taxpayer's from having to pay for their Corruption (after they leave office)!

    January 21, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  14. Rick

    Frank is an idiot. For years, he stood in the way of any meaningful investgation of Fannie and Freddie when it was clear they were going down. This is the same guy who also attempted to get a "Wild and Scenic" designation for the Taunton River – look this one up, the rive is in an industrial zone and it is neither wild nor scenic. In fact, Frank supported dregging this river to gain more industrial access until he opposed its use by natuiral gas interests.

    January 21, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  15. Annie, Atlanta

    What I don't understand is why we keep giving billions of dollars to an industry that sunk themselves, still won't lend, and just keeps on rewarding those responsible? Fire the people responsible, stop with the golden parachutes, take away the corporate jets, and make these financial institutions walk the fine lines you made the auto industry walk. Is that too much to ask? It's our money, after all.

    January 21, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  16. Krejaton

    Nice job, Barney.

    From the guy who led the Democrats fight against McCain and Elizabeth Dole's legislation reforming the loose lending rules for Sallie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2001 (and we know how that turned out!), here is another failure on your part–when will it end, Blarney?

    January 21, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  17. believe

    so frank really did not mean what he said, he only said that to settle people down, there's a word for you mr, frank, HYPOCRITE

    January 21, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  18. itbeme

    cause the automakers are gonna let him USE the jets.....duhhhhhh.....

    January 21, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  19. Save My Hard Earned $$

    Somebody has friends, that have a few item on Barney. He is just another corrupt politician that needs to go!

    January 21, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  20. legal in nc

    juniorb --- if you can't stand firm on the small issues that you set then how are the people to trust that he'll stand firm on the bigger issues?

    January 21, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. Ken

    Well said, Lisa. Unfortunately, being part of political decision-making on a much smaller community-sized scale, often the process really is similar to making sausage where the final product is more palatable than the parts that went into it.

    January 21, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  22. EBC

    I apologize, FRANK scraped the no-jet provision from the bill, that only pissed me OFF big time. WHAT a crock of CRAP. I initially thought the man had some integrity....but after re-reading the article I realized he did nothing but "TALK A LOT OF BS".

    January 21, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  23. The One

    Just goes to show that Barney Frank is a loudmouth who doesn't think before he speaks. Typical. Like to many people in Congress who don't think through the ramifications of what they say or do.

    January 21, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  24. Chris

    Why was it stripped you ask? This sounds like the pot calling the kettle black. Congress rides on our tax dollars for every benefit they get - planes, insurance, barbershops right there at work, everything. How could this lowest rating of all time Congress do anything but strip out this type of language. They want more, not less of the money they steal from working people.

    January 21, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  25. Don

    They shouldn't be allowed to use corporate jets if their company is in financial distress. That is a waste of millions per year just so they can enjoy the luxurious comfort of a corporate jet. The things that Rep. Moore said are just a bunch of nonsense as well. By not allowing all the companies we are bailing out the use of their own corporate jet is not going to affect the jobs of anyone.

    January 21, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
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