Campaign Savvy versus Policy Stupidity

Welcome back to 2008! Hope you like it here, because it appears more and more that 2008 is as far as some members of our House of Representatives want the country to progress.

My point? Well, today, a House committee marked up its version of the FAA reauthorization law. The majority refused to increase excise taxes on General Aviation jet fuel to 35.9 cents per gallon from just under 22 cents — with a smaller increase sought on aviation gasoline — but not because the community opposed.

This community largely supports the increases: pilots and aviation institutions and organizations such as AOPA, EAA and NBAA.

The increase would generate an estimated $400 million extra each year to support systems improvements — and was a way to stave off user fees.

It’s costing billions to implement ADS-B and NextGen; aircraft operators, private and commercial, want progress. The general aviation community wants to support its wants with higher excise levies.

But the House Majority — at least on the committee marking up the bill — voted in lockstep to eliminate those increases.

And then they did what they’re doing everywhere they can: cut FAA funding — all the way back to 2008, their favorite year.

That means, my sources tell me, staffing reductions at the FAA.

No mind that to be ready and available on-schedule, NextGen and ADS-B must progress; no mind that air traffic is growing, more people are flying and more of everything is forecast for the next couple of decades. No mind!

If allowed to stand, these cuts will also reduce spending on programs — even as the agency struggles to hire and train replacements for retiring controllers, straining some facilities (again) and contributing to longer lines at FSDOs, longer waits for approvals, more time for processing required paperwork.

My wise old Grandma used to warn against being “penny wise and pound foolish.” Sometimes, she said, spending more now benefits us with lower costs or better services later.

But in its childlike fit of pique to cut, cut, cut — consequences or need be damned — the House Majority is showing through its FAA reauthorization mark-up that it’s capable only of being penny wise and pound stupid.

And this is one constituency not apt to buy the claim that those ax-wielding House members are merely doing what their constituents want and expect.

In the case of this constituency, that would not be a misstatement or a misunderstanding or a miscommunication.

That would be a lie, pure and simple. It’s not a tax the general public picks up — not like my buddies’ with the Ercoupe, T-Craft, Bonanza or Cirrus.

When a constituency can’t win a beneficial tax increase — knowing full well the costs — and some lawmakers refuse that request in order to stick to a political point, they satisfy only their own selfish lust to stick it to their opponents in the budget a debate.

But it doesn’t stick it to the opposition — it sticks it to us.

This shows no wisdom, no leadership, no sense. Aviation community members would be well served to make sure their congressional representatives know how they feel and where they stand — and that putting their political points-scoring ahead of aviation progress is unacceptable. We can only hope that the Senate will prevail when the bill goes to conference to work out differences; the Senate included the community-requested increases.

As for the House Majority? They’re showing no interest in our wants and needs, the needs of a national air-transportation system — and paid no heed to the good of the nation.

Remember their callousness come November 2012.

One Comment

  1. Champguy says:

    For years I voted against one party because I couldn’t stand the conservative social agenda and the so called “trickle down” economics.
    So I got a government that built a new department and bureaucracy every time we identified a “problem” that needed fixing, Hoo-Ra! and now we have local state and federal governments that cost too much and deliver too little.
    If next gen was really an improvement, not just another boondoggle, it would have been delivered on time, on budget, and already be in service.
    Is that too much to ask?
    What we sent to Washington last time was a wrecking crew, Hoo-Ra!
    It ain’t gonna be pretty.