Taxes on general aviation would hurt small business

The Hill’s “GOP: Obama’s anti-corporate jet talk is killing aviation” (Sept. 21) article rightly highlighted the greatly harmful impact of new taxes on general aviation.  

The truth is that these small “general aviation” aircraft are crucial to the productivity of many small businesses, allowing them to reach far-off customers and plants, support jobs and serve as a lifeline to many communities for healthcare, disaster relief, law enforcement and many other crucially needed resources and services. All told, general aviation represents $150 billion in economic activity and 1.2 million good jobs nationwide. Adding to this good-news story is the fact that general aviation is one of the few manufacturing sectors that contributes positively to our nation’s balance of trade.

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That said, your article unfortunately missed the mark when suggesting that general aviation owners and operators somehow do not pay their “fair share” of the costs of the air traffic control system. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth: according to Federal Aviation Administration data, general aviation operators pay for 8.6 percent of all the taxes going into the Airport and Airways Trust Fund, which is roughly equivalent to their costs. The lion’s share of the costs of the air traffic control system is driven by the commercial airlines’ operations at congested hubs.

In addition, a new per-flight user fee President Obama recently proposed for the people and companies that use general aviation would not only heap a huge administrative burden on those who rely on an airplane, it would require the creation of a huge new bureaucracy to collect and administer the new fees. 

There is simply no good justification for heaping additional taxes and fees and red tape onto an industry that supports manufacturing jobs and helps companies of all sizes succeed. Instead we should be doing everything possible to stimulate our economy, minimize government spending and support job creation.  

Washington, D.C.


Pentagon budget cuts will embolden our enemies

From retired Rear Adm. Joseph F. Callo, USNR, author of John Paul Jones: America’s First Sea Warrior

 Regarding The Hill’s Sept. 20 article, “Obama defends Libya action, says US is ‘proud’ of its role”: The irony of our belated victory in Libya is that it may be one of the last times that American air power makes the decisive difference. If Congress pushes through the trillion-dollar cut in our defense budget, as proposed in the debt-ceiling deal, it will slash the funding for next-generation fighter aircraft to replace those worn out by 10 years of warfare.

It seems counterproductive to cut funding for the very tools that have helped beat back Moammar Gadhafi’s anti-democratic forces without a single U.S. casualty and were essential in providing intelligence that led Navy SEAL Team Six to Osama bin Laden. At just 16 percent of federal spending, it makes little sense to raid the Pentagon budget for deficit reduction. Reform elsewhere could produce more savings — entitlements, for instance, account for 40 percent of the federal budget, and that percentage is increasing rapidly.

By proposing deep cuts to advanced military technologies like unmanned drones, “anti-war” members of Congress will actually embolden our enemies and increase possibilities of war by weakening America’s dominant air power.

New York, NY


Let’s  combat childhood obesity from every angle

From Amy Skaff

Former Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) reported in The Hill that childhood obesity could be addressed through private sectors (“Childhood obesity can be defeated,” Sept. 21). Although I agree, we also need to go further and cut into this obese pie from every angle. 

As a pre-health student, I believe we also need to target where kids spend most of their time as children — in school. Programs to eliminate junk foods and soda are already being implemented, but what people don’t realize is this isn’t going to satisfy cravings for childhood delicacies, such as chips, shakes and Ho Hos. Since children are the victims in this pandemic issue, schools need to take action in their mission and curriculum. 

A few ideas that could really make a difference are mandatory intramural sports and nutrition classes that build school gardens, teaching where organic versus processed foods come into our diets. We need to change children’s habits because ignorance doesn’t know better. If we educate youth with the issue faced in America, they will learn how to further influence their environment and make proactive choices to prevent what “one in every three kids” face today: “cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.”

San Francisco, Calif.