115th Congress, Congress, House of Representatives, Issues, Regulation, Tax

DC Cronyism, Subsidized Stadiums and Private Planes – and the National Anthem


Cronyism is a coin of the realm in Washington, D.C.

Image Credit: Marcus Wong Wongm CC by SA 3.0

Money is of course Capitol currency – DC spends $4 trillion of ours a year.

Regulation also carries DC clout – the city regulates us to the tune of $2 trillion in compliance cost per annum.

That’s $6 trillion worth of DC power. Which gets DC’s denizens – a metric ton of campaign cash. And that campaign cash – pays for lots and LOTS of cronyism.

Cronyism gets the government to tax and regulate your business’ competitors – and/or exempt yours. The ultimate form of phony favoritism.

So any chance we get to mitigate or limit the rampant cronyism on parade – we should grab it with both hands.

Behold the 21st Century AIRR Act. Which finally injects some private sector sanity into the government-addled world of Air Traffic Control (ATC) – woefully mishandled by the Federal Aviation Administration. But it also addresses a longstanding bit of cronyism.

First – the private sector infusion. Government always and forever operates in violation of my Wallet Rule – which is:

If you go out on a Friday night with your wallet, and you go out the following Friday night with my wallet – on which Friday night will you have more fun?

Of course you’ll have more fun with my wallet – because you don’t care what it looks like at the end of the evening.

Well, government is always on someone else’s wallet – and the Friday night never ends.

House of Representatives Transportation Chairman (and AIRR Act sponsor) Bill Shuster gives a heaping helping of the FAA’s virulent Wallet Rule violation:

“Since 1981, the FAA has been engaged in a series of continuous programs to ‘modernize’ ATC. In 1999, the General Accounting Office (GAO, now the Government Accountability Office) reported that the FAA would spend $41 billion between 1981 through 2004 on these projects.

“Whether the FAA ultimately spent $41 billion, what exactly the taxpaying public received for the investment, and whether the benefits were at least matched by the level of investment are questions that sadly do not have clear answers.

“What is known is that the FAA spent a significant amount of money, and induced others to do the same, on technology programs that ultimately failed to deliver promised benefits and were abandoned in multiple cases.”

Today (it’s 2017, in case you’ve forgotten – they have), just about all of the ATC shares the location of each individual plane in the flightpath – by writing it down with pen and paper and handing it around the tower. It’s Twenty-Seventeen. And we’ve spent $41 billion on ATC technology. And they’re using ink and parchment.

And now – the cronyism. To pay for all of this runaway ATC waste, We the Little Guys pay a metric ton of taxes on each and every plane ticket we purchase:

“Government taxes on flights may include the following:

“Passenger Facility Charges: Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) of up to $18 USD may apply depending upon the itinerary chosen. Prices can be as low as $4.50.

“Federal Excise Tax:  A federal excise tax of 7.5% is charged on airfare.

“Segment Fee:  A segment fee of up to $4.00 USD does apply per flight segment. A flight segment is defined as one takeoff and one landing.

“September 11th Security Fee:  A September 11th Security Fee of $5.60 USD applies per one-way flight. Additional $5.60 fee(s) can be assessed if the trip itinerary includes a layover or stopover of longer than four hours domestically, or 12 hours internationally or to/from Alaska and Hawaii.

“U.S. or International Departure and Arrival Charges:  U.S. or international government imposed taxes and fee of up to $200.00 USD may apply depending upon the itinerary chosen.”

But guess who pays not this avalanche of taxes? The private plane Big Guys. Hello, DC Cronyism.

Private-Plane Taxes: Another Way The Poor Subsidize The Rich: “Wealthy CEOs and athletes have found a loophole that allows them to minimize their tax bills while traveling in style – all at the expense of the everyday traveler who flies commercial and must bear an outsize percentage of aviation taxes in the US.

“According to a Bloomberg analysis of government data, operators of private jets pay far less in taxes than airline passengers and other commercial flyers. On a per flight basis, a private jet could generate as little as two percent of the taxes and fees paid by airline passengers on an identical route. Private planes make up about 10 percent of US flights under air-traffic control, yet pay less than 1 percent into a trust fund that finances air-traffic control and other Federal Aviation Administration operations.”

Outstanding cronyism, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I particularly like the fact that these people get to fly their government-cronyism-subsidized planes – to their government-cronyism-subsidized sports stadiums. To then – during the pregame National Anthems – tell We the Little Guys repeatedly picking up their tabs…to shove it. Good times.

The AIRR Act – ensures the Big Guys pay the flight taxes on their private planes.

Which will almost certainly allow We the Little Guys to pay less.

Which is yet another great reason to pass the 21st Century AIRR Act.

So let’s, shall we Congress?

This is a guest post by Seton Motley Founder and President of Less Government
  • Babsan

    Gotta feed the PIGS and the Democrat voters

  • Robert

    If you were a history buff you would know this has been going on even before there were income tax. cronyism is always the name of the game all the way down to the school boards across this country. You speak of an ATC that is not up to par, name me one piece of Government equipment that the Military gets that works the way it is supposed to or even costs a reasonable price, the last Submarine built $7 Billion and climbing yet the most luxurious cruise ship that you could put that submarine in their ballast tanks cost less than $3 Billion, Toilet seats for the C5 aircraft manufacturer charged over $800 per seat and the exact same seat was sold in building supply stores for under $15, $125 for as hammer sold in tool stores for under $20 bolts and nuts that are nothing special at as much as $25 per bolt, it is not one party or the other it is the industrial complex which controls the Government, I do know from my 26 years in the Military every time there is an investigation it seems like the Republicans want to cover up the misdeeds of the suppliers. It is also the Republicans who are always trying to give tax breaks and incentive money to these same companies who are ripping the tax payer off.
    I do not say that because I am a Liberal I was a military officer for 26 years and a Republican since 1959.

  • George Moriarty

    I doubt “[w]hich will almost certainly allow We the Little Guys to pay less” will come to fruition. Government is never satisfied with its intake or willing to spend less. Therefore, it’s more likely the increased taxes taken from the Big Guys will simply add to the taxes collected from We the Little Guys–and the Capitol spenders will be able to spend more capital.

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