Obama: Bailed-Out Companies Must Justify Perks — And Planes

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As part of his plan to ensure that federal stimulus funds are properly spent, President Barack Obama announced a pay cap on Wednesday for executives at firms receiving help from U.S. taxpayers. Further, he said, "Companies receiving federal aid are going to have to disclose publicly all the perks and luxuries bestowed upon senior executives, and provide an explanation to the taxpayers and to shareholders as to why these expenses are justified." While flight departments were not specifically cited, they seem unlikely to escape this scrutiny. The "populist fury" against bailed-out corporations and banks "has been fueled by accounts of bonuses [and] the use of private jets," according to Bloomberg News. The National Business Aviation Association is working to counter the impact of the negative press for the industry. In a letter sent to President Obama last week, NBAA President Ed Bolen wrote: "Instead of discouraging companies from accepting and using business airplanes or any other strategic business asset, policymakers should be looking for ways to increase general aviation manufacturing jobs, promote economic development in communities without commercial airline service, and facilitate productivity and efficiency at companies trying to do more with less."

It may be that the aviation lobby has had some impact -- after all, corporate flight departments were not singled out or even named in President Obama's remarks on Wednesday.