posted on February 20, 2013 14:40
The sequester is coming and Washington seems to lack the political will to stop it. Bickering continues amongst Democrats and Republicans on both sides of the Capitol over who will be responsible for the sequester, but no one seems focused on a solution. In the transportation realm, pilots and passengers can look forward to more delays while flying.
While there is room in the sequester plan to keep mission-essential FAA personnel on board, aircraft controllers and TSA personnel will see cutbacks which will mean more delays across the United States.
A new fiscal report by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson calls for a new highway bill to bring transportation spending and revenues in line, but contains no hint of how to pay for it. The document references “increasing various user fees” but contains no specifics. The duo’s famous 2010 report called for a 15 cent gas tax hike implemented gradually – a penny a month – between 2013 and 2015, which would help cut the deficit by ending the need for future general fund bailouts of the Highway Trust Fund.
Congressman Peter DeFazio is pitching a different plan which would avoid the terrible optics of a direct tax increase. His plan would link the gas tax to the consumer price index (CPI) and asses a tax on producers on a per-barrel basis. It is possible that these proposals could lead to future talk of aviation user fees as air traffic grows and airports draw more from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.
Meanwhile, the White House said it will announce a plan to cut federal review and permitting time for construction projects such as highways, bridges, railways, ports, waterways, pipelines, and renewable energy.
The sequester comes in just nine days, with DOT funding running out in 36.