Economics 2002

Jan. 8, 2002

Economics 2002

Despite present turmoil, Bush and airlines need to be held accountable

By Paul Bowers

January 2002

Last year at this time we still were enjoying one of the longest runs of prosperity in history. Most airlines were making money and capacity was the largest issue facing airports and airlines.
In rallying the nation, President Bush has done an excellent job. However, on the economic front we are letting the prosperity of the last decade slip between our fingers.
Remember the tax rebate sweepstakes? How much did that $300-600 check from Uncle Sam do for each of us, or our economy? Despite not having a popular mandate to change our balance of spending and taxation that brought us annual budget surpluses, George W. felt compelled to pass a $1.35 trillion, ten-year tax cut. This medicine when mixed with a slowing economy produces a predictable side effect: a forthcoming deficit.
President Bush’s budget director says that budget surpluses are gone for years to come. So the Administra-tion is doing what any irresponsible household does when faced with mounting bills and a loss of income: borrow more. The current $5.95 trillion debt limit could be reached by March and Administration officials want to raise the limit on how much the government can borrow. What’s this have to do with aviation? Well, the AIR-21 spending bill for aviation is only for three years. Congress was in a better mood to fund programs like AIR-21 when it had more revenue coming in than obligations.

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Has anyone else had the same reaction to the new transportation security law? Airlines received an early Christmas present when the responsibility for passenger screening was passed from them to the federal government. The government is charging a ticket fee of $2.50 to help pay for this new responsibility. The carriers, meanwhile, are unlikely to pass on their reduced cost to consumers.
Another example of airlines keeping money they don’t deserve is from the energy surcharges that were added last year. The price of fuel has dropped significantly, yet the carriers have said that they have no intention of eliminating the surcharges.
Is it too much to ask that the president and airlines be held accountable for their economics?