So, the Obama Administration budget negotiators last year suggested a $100 per flight operation user fee during the debt ceiling negotiations — Congress said, “no.”
Then, the Obama Administration budget team suggested last year that the Super Committee consider the $100 per flight operation user fee – Congress said, “no.”
During this debate last year, one of our energized AOPA members noticed that The White House set up an online system allowing citizens to petition The White House on issues of the day. If you get enough people to sign the petition, someone from The White House will review your sentiments and respond.
Well, almost 9,000 people “signed” the petition calling on The White House to abandon it’s user fee dreams.
Then, on Friday the 13th the grim reaper appeared. The White House official who reviewed the petition issued a written statement saying basically, thanks for your willingness to pay for air traffic control services through aviation fuel charges, but we really want to go and create a whole new bureaucracy that can collect $100 for every flight operation requiring ATC….oh, we are willing to exempt some of you…so, don’t worry….just trust us…you will really like our plan!
Sorry, this remains a non-starter with us!
When you look around the world you find that once the user fee bureaucracy gets built it needs to be fed more and more revenue just to be self sustaining. So, plans that are narrowly directed soon spread to more aircraft and the fees go up.
And, what’s the rationale? One business aircraft pilot and member wrote me and explained that he might take a plane to an airport to pick up a passenger, deliver the passenger to his or her chosen airport and return to the home field. Three legs would be $300….maybe more than the pilot made!
Honestly, The White House statement was not that much of a surprise….they just won’t let go of this bad idea and we expected to see it in the President’s Budget in February. What was a surprise was the timing. But, hey, thanks for the headstart. We will build opposition to this idea yet again. If only our budget bureaucrats would work as hard at actually passing the FAA Reauthorization legislation that provides funding for important projects around the country that will produce jobs as opposed to building a user fee bureaucracy.
Of course, doing real policy work during a very political year might be expecting too much! I suspect this is only the most recent example of policy by pollster. No one really did the policy analysis here, but the pollsters told the campaign team that taking yet another shot at businesses using aircraft is a great idea. By the way, those pollsters might want to check with the workers who build the best aircraft in the world to see how they are liking this campaign theme!