Legislation hits sour note for business | AspenTimes.com

Legislation hits sour note for business

Aspen, CO Colorado

There’s a bit of irony in the local business community’s stance against a bill being entertained in Washington.

Two influential business leaders in Pitkin County, one of the most politically liberal areas in the U.S., are trying to rally people against legislation that would take away federal bailout money from companies that host out-of-town gatherings.

A letter penned by Debbie Braun, president of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, and Susan Hamley, director of the Snowmass Tourism Office, said the bill is an example of “Congress’ political grandstanding.”

The two argue that Washington’s clampdown on corporate travel will hit Aspen and Snowmass where it counts ” in the pocketbook. Without the conference business that butters the offseason bread of the two resort towns, “bellmen, maids, wait staff and other hourly employees are the first to lose their jobs,” Braun and Hamley wrote in the letter, which was published Thursday by both Aspen newspapers.

All of a sudden, President Obama isn’t getting the same Pitkin County adoration ” at least from its business community ” that he received during election season and Inauguration Day. Why? Because it’s money that matters, to steal a phrase from Randy Newman (who plays the Wheeler Opera House Saturday).

To their credit, Braun and Hamley’s points are quite valid. The moral rhetoric that’s leapt off the tongues of Obama and Sen. John Kerry about corporate travel seems narrow-minded and short-sighted. The excesses of companies like AIG don’t invalidate all business travel, especially when meetings and conventions employ hundreds of thousands of Americans.

There is no excuse for corporate gluttony and over-the-top spending at taxpayer expense. But this limited vision on display by Kerry and Obama will have unintended consequences by leaving more people jobless in Aspen, Snowmass and the rest of the country.

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