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Support Our Aircraft Industry

Right now Congress is considering provisions of the Troubled Assets Relief Program, with the intention of stabilizing our nation’s economy and stimulating growth in key investment areas.

Much attention has been given to the blatant disregard for working Americans demonstrated by several top executives in the financial industry. While hardworking Americans struggle — and many more urgently search for work at all — the thought of these executives using taxpayer dollars for bonuses, corporate retreats and redecorating their offices is outrageous. [IMGCAP(1)]

But as we seek retribution from those who broke the public trust, it is important to not inadvertently punish the thousands of hardworking Americans who manufacture business aircraft by requiring business aircraft divestiture.

Simply put, business aircraft divestiture requires that a business eliminate its corporate aircraft fleet and leases. While business aircraft divestiture may sound like a good idea, its unintended consequences will have a devastating impact on general aviation aircraft manufacturers in America — one of the few remaining domestic industries that provide a trade surplus for our nation.

The industry has already seen a dramatic decrease in new orders, due to the floundering economy. Many companies have announced significant layoffs, with more likely to follow. So to compound the current situation with a mandated “dumping” of used aircraft on an already depressed market could cause enormous harm to the very workers we are trying to target with taxpayer assistance.

More than 1 million Americans are employed by this segment of the aircraft industry; more than 40,000 of these jobs are in my home state of Kansas. These jobs are a critical part of our economy, just as automotive jobs and those in supporting industries are critical for the upper Midwest. Most aircraft-related jobs are high-skilled positions with good wages, pensions and health care coverage — exactly the kinds of jobs America has been trying desperately to hang on to for the past 30 years.

We must be smart in how we invest taxpayer dollars by ensuring the greatest and broadest public benefit. But we must also not make hasty decisions that will have dire, unintended results.

Here in Kansas, we are a resilient and determined people. We have great faith in our president, who is charged with the immense responsibility of guiding our nation through these difficult times. We only ask that our burden not be made greater through unintended consequences. The mechanics and engineers, the administrative and manual laborers who turn out the best aircraft in the world need our support — just as all American workers need our dedication to getting this nation back on track.

Kathleen Sebelius (D) is the governor of Kansas.

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