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The assertion by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and his Senate counterpart, Patty Murray, that their budget compromise does not raise taxes is tantamount to Barack Obama’s pledge, “If you like your (insurance) plan, you can keep it.”
All of the above knew their statements to be bald-faced lies right from the get-go!
The difference is it took most people more than two years to figure out Obama’s charade, while most airline passengers already know the Ryan-Murray line won’t fly.
Airline passengers are already the most overtaxed segment of the traveling public. Presently, aviation is subject to 17 different taxes, which totaled nearly $19 billion last year alone. On a typical $300 domestic ticket, 20 percent, or $61, goes to the U.S. government. Conversely, the federal tax, per passenger, on a comparable automobile trip is around 2 percent, and Amtrak passengers, which are among the most affluent, are subsidized.
The Ryan-Murray budget will more than double the TSA fee on a round-trip ticked from a minimum of $5 to a total of $11.20. This is in addition to the Domestic Transportation Tax, the U.S. Federal Segment Fee, the Passenger Facilities Charge (PFCs), the Travel Facility Tax (Alaska and Hawaii ticket tax) and a plethora of other taxes heaped onto international travelers.
This is an outrage! And, yes, you can call it a fee, but we are smart enough to know a tax when we see one.
Ryan-Murray are already on defense. They assert that the present TSA fee only covers about 25 percent of the agency’s budget, so it is only right to make the flying public pick up the slack instead of passing the cost onto the broader base of taxpayers.
This is true. The security fee covers only $1.9 billion of the TSA’s annual $7.5 billion budget. However, this is a full $1.2 billion more than the Department of Homeland Security requested, and this new revenue is going into the general fund, which is supposed to offset the cost of dumping the scheduled sequester, not to pay the cost of the TSA.
However, the TSA has been a taxpayer ripoff from the very beginning. Before 9/11, the airlines were responsible for their own security costs. This is how it should be as the airlines have the most to lose. They not only have to cover any loss of equipment but could potentially lose billions in litigation for lose of life due to lax security.
A business does any job better and more cost-effective than the government. When the feds took over this job, there was no incentive to control costs or to place resources where they were most needed. Should we be surprised that the tab for the TSA has gone through the roof?
Last year, the airlines and passengers paid $2.3 billion to the TSA in taxes and fees, which is a 100 percent increase since 2002. From 2007 to 2012, Congress increased the TSA’s budget 19 percent, while the number of passengers screened fell 11 percent.
In a little sleight-of-hand that makes no sense, the Ryan-Murray deal let the airlines out from under the $380 million yearly fee they are currently paying for aviation security and hiked fees on passengers.
Worried about terrorists highjacking another airplane? All the airlines have to do is retrofit the planes and seal up the cockpit. In other words, give the pilots a separate entrance and a separate restroom and the problem is solved. There is no need for the TSA with its demanding government union and those time-consuming, embarrassing searches.
It is also true that only about half the population flies each year. However, if you don’t fly this year, chances are you will fly next year. Flying is no longer a luxury enjoyed by the rich. Due to work requirements, families are more spread out than ever before. Also, working families have more time constraints. When there is a death or other family emergency, flying is the most cost-effective way to travel. However, this type of last-minute travel is the most expensive, and taxes imposed on the flying public hurt those who can least afford it.
So have yourself a merry little Christmas and, if you are traveling to be with your family for the holidays this year, make the most of it. If our representatives in Washington have their way, these annual visits may become completely unaffordable.