January 21st, 2009
04:09 PM ET
8 years ago

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/21/art.frank1.gi.jpg caption="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. GetSerious

    Good ole Barney saw the 600 plus private jets parked all over the east coast for the coronation of Nobama. Why do you think he changed his mind?

    January 21, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  2. jesuino leduino rosa

    Way, what do you think, loobing, from aeroespece industry? Maybe not.

    January 21, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  3. Real American

    Now, if we could just get Nancy Pelosi to stop using hers.....

    January 21, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  4. Larry Schlueter

    Please be aware that anything comming from Barney Frank is without substance. He is one of those responsible for the morgage industry failing to the degree it has failed. It is more important to Frank to gain votes for re-election than to do what is best for America.

    January 21, 2009 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  5. PA Canada

    Sure. Frank and Nancy hmmmmm has a nice Ring maybe they could both audition for West Wing reruns. Fiction is norm there!

    January 21, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  6. julie

    why don't we ask how much the taxpayer's pay to have palosi and the others fly on the private planes? surely they are not too good to fly commerical are they? i mean what is good for the goose is good for the gander, right?????

    and one more thing when is the public going to stop blaming the bush administrator for the economy and start asking mr. frank how poor the economy has done under his watch for the last 2 plus years.......

    January 21, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  7. Andy J, Upstate NY

    Frank and Dodd are just 2 of the people who are in this financial crisis elbows deep.

    Frank is a moron. In mid 2008, he said Fannie and Freddie were sound and the commotion was just going to slow the lending of subprimes.

    Dodd was getting sweetheart loans from Countrywide... gosh, i wonder why.


    January 21, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  8. Jen, Philadelphia

    I'd say the real reason is he doesn't want to call attention to his buddy Nancy's private jet (the new one she insisted on because she wanted to fly non-stop) that she uses at tax payer expense to fly back and forth to California. Goodness knows, if they start adding that kind of stuff to bills, we might start looking at what they're using our money on.

    January 21, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  9. Vincent Yau

    It's not cost effective for American carmaker CEOs to travel via commercial. Think about this now, in 2007, GM CEO Wagoner took in nearly $16 million in compensation. 5 business days for 52 weeks in a year, that's 260 days, not counting vacation days. Say they work 9 hours a day, that's $60,000+ per day, nearly $7,000 per hour.

    Someone please check me if my math is off, but if they have to check-in, jump flights, switch gates, wait inbetween flights not to mention delays, go to the baggage terminal, much less WALK then that token gesture of flying commercial (driving?!) just cost their company more money than they would save if they flew private.

    January 21, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  10. billy-bayou

    Jim Ledbetter:

    In the fourty-one years I have been out of the military and in the work force I have encountered unions on many occasions. They and they alone are the cause of the problems we face today. They are the reason companys close down in the US and nove to other countries. I have said for fourty years that unions will destroy this country.I was right, so screw you.

    January 21, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  11. Subramanian Venkatraman

    Our law makers have known to be among the several free loaders who used corporate jets extensively. So if the corporations sell away their jets, where will they go for a free ride? Surely not the current President's Defence or Transportation Dept will step in to help them!

    January 21, 2009 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  12. Gino Federici

    I completely agree with Diane. My wife who worked at Fedex on the GM account told me the same thing. These people should be forced to repent with some form of reinbursement and the managers who closed their eyes fired on the spot! It's about time we make the "bums" accountable!

    January 21, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  13. Indesputable Visual (and Audible) Evidence

    Any child can get mad after the fact and through a tantrum ... Frank.

    If congressmen had a brain, they'd see problems before hand and mitigate the problems proactively.

    January 21, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  14. Zoe

    Personally, I agree with Barney Frank and I'm pretty sure not a single one of you has a realistic idea about how much owning a private jet costs. Its not just about buying the plane once; you also have to pay for fuel, storage, upkeep, and your pilot. It is the definition of a luxury, not a necessity. And if you are coming to DC to beg for money with your tail in between your legs, leave your private jet at home. Shell out $150 to fly commercial. I promise, no matter how you look at it, its a much less expensive way to fly.

    January 21, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  15. Drosen

    Barney Frank is a smart man. I think he is a good man. I don't think this is anything more than window dressing.

    On the other hand it illustrates how shortsighted Government can be – as is Wall Street – as if a few peopl not being able to fly for bailout money on jets if they've received funding (meaning they would have to buy comercial tickets) is going to somehow damage a company, state economy, or industry.

    The nice thing about people who smoke cigarrettes is that at least they take time for reflection. Like Barry.

    January 21, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  16. Mr. T

    I don't think there should be any limits on Executive Compensation. These men, all across corporate America, work hard for their millions. It is far better to give it all to them than to give it to shareholders, union workers, or employees of companies.

    January 21, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  17. Chuck

    Hey...............Bush didn't fly a J3 Piper Cub or a commercial airline back to Texas yesterday.............He flew in the 747 (Air force One) that hardly even uses any fuel.............Go figure !!!! Maybe........just maybe a private jet or heavens forbid .............A COMMERCIAL AIRLINE might have been better. Maybe he should have driven a HYBRED AUTOMOBILE to Texas............It would have been a lot cheaper and he could have kept the car after the trip for free for the diffarence in fuel costs, etc. Go Washington and Mr. Franks...................!!!!!!!!

    January 21, 2009 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  18. Dave

    While Barney is at it, he ought to get the Congressional jets under control, particularly Nancy Pelosi's 727 that she uses to fly her entourage back and forth to California on the long weekends she and the rest of the Congress take. Congress needs to work a full week and tighten up on their own perks before they get too personal with industry execs.

    January 21, 2009 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  19. Larry Schlueter

    Let's put the blame where it belongs. Congress things it is better than the public. If members of Congress would do the same to themselves as the rest of the population, there would be less lack of respect for the higher living gang.

    January 21, 2009 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  20. Dave

    Nothing can ever be accomplished if politicians are too squeamish to step on a few toes. FOR THE GOOD OF THE PEOPLE means ALL of the people, not just a vested few. Rather than trying to bail out an endless list of corrupt failing businesses, OUR money would be best spent developing the new businesses that will take their place in the void. America does not cling to the backs of giant corporations and will not drown with them. Rather, it is the small enterprises that form the backbone of our once great country. So send a message to Washington!

    January 21, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  21. Poppedeye

    Isn't it funny that when the auto industry comes to Washington for a loan, they get the private jet issue thrown up in their faces, but when the bankers and Wall Street show up with their hands out asking for 20-30 times more money, everyone has lockjaw. Maybe it's just the difference in perception between those who actually make a product and those who invent ways to swindle you out of your money...who knows?

    January 21, 2009 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  22. TAG

    Barney Frank is part of the problem – in the housing crisis. He would know a lot about mismanagement of funds, and golden parichutes! And talk about hypocrits – all the members of congress ALSO fly in private jets and they produce nothing (not like the auto industry that makes cars) – just take our money to pay for thier lifestyles, vote themselves raises and whatever else they want – they take. What about global warming? What about all the private jets that flew in for the inaugeration – did they operate on solar power? What about the financial crisis of the country? They complain about the cost of war and then what do they do?!? They want to implement a 1.5 trillion dollar (or more) bail out... OMG! Where does it end? Oh yeah – in thier pockets!!! I am sick of it!

    January 21, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
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