A total of 8,904 signatures on the petition, “Take User Fees Off the Table,” apparently were not enough to change the mind of President Obama. Today the White House issued its response, which only serves to reiterate his position:
“In a challenging budget environment, the Obama Administration believes it’s essential that those who benefit from our world-class aviation system help pay for its ongoing operation. And we want to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share. For example, under current law, a large commercial aircraft flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco pays between twenty-one and thirty-three times the fuel taxes paid by a corporate jet flying the same route and using the same FAA air traffic services. This is why the Administration proposed to establish a new surcharge for air traffic services.
“The proposed $100 per flight fee would generate an estimated $11 billion over 10 years, reducing the deficit and more equitably sharing the cost of air traffic services across the aviation user community. All piston aircraft, military aircraft, public aircraft, air ambulances, aircraft operating outside of controlled airspace, and Canada-to-Canada flights would be exempted.
“We appreciate your petition’s acknowledgment that there needs to be an increased user contribution to aviation system funding in the current fiscal climate, and we recognize that some would prefer to raise the tax rate on aviation fuel. At the same time, we have concluded that a $100 per flight user fee is an equitable way for those who benefit to bear the cost of this essential service.”
The response failed to address the fact that an aviation user fee would require another bureaucracy to pay for it, diluting the amount of revenue obtained.
The petition, which is now closed, was created on Sept. 23, 2011, by Kevin M. of Marion, Iowa. On its website, the White House warns: “Creating a duplicate or similar petition will make it harder for you to get an official response.”
UPDATE: Here’s NBAA’s response to the White House.
NBAA Not Buying White House Defense of User Fees
Washington, DC, January 13, 2012 – National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) President and CEO Ed Bolen today issued the following statement in response to a signal of renewed support from the Obama White House for per-flight user fees for general aviation. A White House staff person sent the message defending the Administration’s position on user fees in response to a petition calling on the president to reconsider his support for user fees. The message was sent to all signatories to the petition.
“The general aviation community has responded in a proactive and responsible way with regard to funding our nation’s air transportation system.
“But, with its response to the industry’s unified and well-founded concerns over user fees for general aviation, the Obama Administration has made clear its intention to ignore the fact that fuel taxes are a proven, efficient, fair and environmentally friendly way to charge for the industry’s use of the aviation system. Instead, the White House intends to set aside the industry’s concerns by pushing ahead with an administratively burdensome, bureaucracy-building, foreign-style user fee scheme that has very little to do with actual costs imposed on the system.
“Unfortunately, it appears the White House will continue supporting its position on user fees by promoting the tired rhetoric that disparages general aviation, when it should instead be promoting the industry, and the jobs, exports and economic development it generates.”