- JetBlue pilots vote to unionize; 2 previous attempts failed
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with ‘full-time’ robots
- Navy’s military dolphins may meet Putin’s porpoises in Black Sea
- Forget the Porsche — it’s the guy with the Prius that attracts the ladies, poll shows
- Fired Russian Facebook CEO says site has fallen in the hands of pro-Putin supporters
- Sen. Boozman of Arkansas has emergency heart surgery
- Brazil embraces drones to save the Amazon rain forest
- Teen stowaway shows holes in vast airport security
- Supreme Court to decide if passports can say ‘Jerusalem, Israel’
- Cries of anguish as South Korea ferry toll tops 100
Is airline security fee in budget a tax in disguise?
Congressional Republicans have said they won’t accept higher taxes as part of a year-end budget deal, but critics say one option that’s still on the table is just a tax increase in disguise.
The White House, House Republicans and Senate Democrats included in their 2014 budgets a plan to increase the security user fee for airplane passengers. It would rise from $2.50 one way, with a maximum of $5 per trip, to a $5 flat fee per trip — which turns out to raise a significant amount of money.
The higher airline fee is being looked at by the budget conference committee, a 29-member group trying to find common ground between Democrats who have rejected any entitlement cuts, and Republicans who refuse to consider tax increases.
Except that, in the eyes of some, the fee is a tax increase.
“It’s of course a tax hike,” said Sean Kennedy, senior vice president of global government affairs at Airlines for America. “This is nothing more than a mere tax grab revenue raiser for a budget deal on the backs of the traveling public.”
President Obama called for the fee increase in his budget, and Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, included his proposal in her own budget, which passed the Senate earlier this year. Their plan would raise the fee to $5 for all passengers regardless of stops, and increase it by 50 cents a year until 2019, when the fee would be $7.50. The plan would raise $25.9 billion over 10 years.
Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, included the increase to $5 per trip in the GOP’s 2014 budget, but he did not include the incremental increase through 2019.
A spokesman for Mr. Ryan did not return a request for comment on the plan.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat and one of the negotiators trying to hammer out a final budget deal before mid-December, said there are other areas where Congress should be looking at for money before turning to airline fees.
“I’m not sure why our Republican colleagues think it’s a better idea to raise TSA fees on the American public than close a tax loophole that actually creates incentives for American companies to move their profits to places like the Cayman Islands,” he said.
If airlines had to absorb the $2.50 fee increase, that would mean less profits to invest in new routes, employees, aircraft and technology, Mr. Kennedy said. On the other hand, if airlines passed the fee to passengers in higher ticket prices, fewer people would fly and the airlines would still lose money and not be able to contribute to the economy, he said.
“We’re making it clear to anyone on Capitol Hill who will listen that this is a lose/lose situation for airlines and passengers,” he said.
Some leaders on Capitol Hill also have much to lose from harm to the airline industry. For example, Boeing manufactures many of its airplanes in Ms. Murray’s home state of Washington, and Majority Leader Harry Reid’s home state relies heavily on tourism and air travel to Las Vegas, Mr. Kennedy said.
Despite lobbying from Airlines for America, lawmakers are still looking at boosting the fee.
“They said they are trying to put together a deal that reduces the impact of sequestration, and they’re putting all options on the table including increasing ticket prices for passengers,” Mr. Kennedy said.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Jacqueline Klimas covers Capitol Hill for The Washington Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.
- Supreme Court seems skeptical of Ohio law to police campaign 'lies'
- Veterans push to test marijuana as a life-saving treatment for crippling PTSD
- Three lawmakers finish Boston Marathon
- Rep. Kyrsten Sinema to run in Boston Marathon to honor bombing victims
- Building a D.C. memorial for an endless war bumps into regulations
Latest Blog Entries
- Miss. GOP chair: Huckabee distracting from GOP's reasonable pro-life stance
- Commerce Secretary 'optimistic' about U.S.'s economic standing worldwide
- Less than half of registered voters would re-elect their congressman, poll finds
- Half of registered voters in Va. would re-elect Sen. Mark Warner
- 2013 was second most polarizing year of Obama's presidency
TWT Video Picks
Feds who send arms against ranch families betray American values
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, renegade
- CARSON: When government looks more like foe than friend
- Tactical advantage: Russian military shows off impressive new gear
- IRS revokes conservative group's tax-exempt status over anti-Clinton statements: report
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Michelle Obama: Obama family Sundays are more for napping than church
- Supreme Court upholds Michigan affirmative action ban
- Bonuses given to IRS employes who owed back taxes
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.