A Guaranteed Veto
Today, AOPA and everyone else on the Internets is reporting that we, the GA community, have won a huge battle against user fees. This is a massive first step towards killing the reauthorization Ponzi Scheme that the 'The Current Occupant of the White House', the ATA and the FAA have cooked up for their Big Airlines cronies:
The House of Representatives on Sept. 20 passed H.R.2881, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007. The bill would fund the FAA through 2011, provide additional money for air traffic control modernization (NextGen), and increase the funds for airport improvements, particularly small general aviation airports. "H.R.2881 is a great model for funding our future aviation system," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "And the best news for general aviation—no user fees, a modest fuel tax increase for NextGen, and no tax cuts for the airlines."The House vote of 267-151 was mostly down party lines, proving that it DOES matter who you elect to office. This vote moves H.R.2881 to the upper chamber where it will get regurgitated into something completely different:
Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee was scheduled on the same day to debate changes to the Senate's version of an FAA funding bill (S.1300). Once the Senate bill is finalized and approved by the full Senate, a conference committee will resolve the differences between H.R.2881 and S.1300.AOPA reports that H.R.2881 is an "historic bill addressing the needs of aviation today and into the future," said Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the Transportation Committee. "These are all-time high investments." Let's have Dow Jones' Marketwatch.com break down the numbers Oberstar is so proud of:
The bill would provide $68 billion for the agency that oversees U.S. airspace and regulates U.S airlines, bankrolling its operating budget and underwriting a major upgrade to the nation's air traffic control system to one based on satellite positioning. The increased spending would be partly financed by higher fuel taxes on airlines, increasing the tax rate on aviation gasoline by 25%, to 24.2 cents a gallon, and by 64% for aviation-grade kerosene [uh, it's called Jet-A] used in noncommercial aviation, to 36 cents. The bill would raise the fee that airports can charge passengers to a maximum of $7 a ticket from a $4.50, an increase that would go to expanding or improving airports, such as projects to reduce noise congestion.It's that airport fee that ATA is trying to use to scare you into believing the shell game they've been playing with the public:
"The House bill does little to promote NextGen or correct the subsidy of corporate jets by airline passengers," said James May, the group's president and CEO, in a statement late Thursday. "Even worse, it imposes a $2.2 billion tax increase on passengers in the form of airport facilities charges."So while the House is getting it right, the Bushies in W.D.C. will do whatever it takes to pad the pockets of their airline BFFs:
Some potential bad news for H.R. 2881, the House plan to reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. On Wednesday, the White House threatened to veto the measure should it come across the President's desk. Dow Jones Newswires reports the Office of Management and Budget said the bill "falls far short" of what the White House believes is necessary to reduce flight delays. "It would make the status quo worse by undoing progress achieved in prior Congresses," OMB said, adding that President George W. Bush's "senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill."Uh, hello? The Bushies feel H.R.2881 'falls far short' of doing enough to curb flight delays? What are they SMOKING back there? This has always been not about FAA funding, but about airline profits. It has never been meant as a way to fund NexGen or actually develop a system that allows flights to arrive and depart on time.
It's just like everything else in Bush's Washington. Friends helping friends make money. I would love to say this win in the House was worthwhile, but being realistic, there is only one thing that will allow us to fund FAA without user fees and big tax increases. That is, if W's CEO cronies get some sort of a windfall, he'll sign it. And if they don't, it does not matter that he will be screwing each and every American who flies, Bush will smirk while he vetoes the final bill. That pen stroke will send this all back to square one, it may stop the FAA from being funded, and will cause serious harm to the entire ATC system.
Do we think he'll care? Not a chance.