Preemptive Opposition

While the Obama administration isn’t expected to unveil its budget until next week, House lawmakers are building opposition to a possible proposal to impose a $100-per-flight air traffic control user charge.  The White House last year offered the proposal in its fiscal 2013 budget request, and is expected to resurrect the proposal for its fiscal 2014 budget request.

 GA Caucus members have drafted a letter in the House once again expressing opposition to user fees. The letter, addressed to President Obama, calls the fees the "wrong approach" and asks him to abandon the idea. The letter, being circulated for signatures, is similar to a letter caucus members sent to President Barack Obama last year that included 195 signatures. The number of signatures collected this year thus far is believed to have surpassed last year's tally.

GA supporters also recently expressed opposition to the White House proposal to lengthen depreciation schedules for business aircraft from five to seven years.  The administration has been pushing the proposal as a potential revenue raise to help cut the debt.  The White House calls the current shortened time frame a “loophole” and characterizes it as a subsidy for corporate jet operators.

But opponents quashed an amendment backing the depreciation proposal during the House Budget Committee’s consideration of the fiscal 2014 budget resolution. Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) objected to the proposal, saying business aviation is a popular industry to attack.

Flores stressed that business aircraft are built, flown, fueled and maintained by Americans. “Are these jobs not important to you? Why don’t we just park them all and that way we won’t have any American’s work in that sector,” he says. “What are these subsidies we keep talking about? Is it that they recover their capital cost just like any other company? That is what they do just like any other industry.”

Also expressing opposition was Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) warns that a lengthened tax schedule would increase capital costs for business and “cause a drop in aggregate demand with negative consequences for manufacturing employment and general aviation services providers.”

Meanwhile Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) recently expressed exasperation at the continuing characterization of business jet operators as “corporate jet fat cats.” During a March 20 hearing on Obama’s 2013 trade agenda, Roberts stressed the importance of the business aviation industry to the nation’s balance of trade, but notes the industry is continually “vilified and demonized” as fat cats. “Boy am I tired of hearing that,” he says, appealing to Obama to tone down the rhetoric surrounding the industry . “I just want the president to knock it off,” he says.

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