While Obama’s first four years may give some insight into the next four should he win re-election, industry leaders have few specifics about Romney’s approach. Romney has focused on macro issues, and his role as Massachusetts governor has provided few clues as to how he would handle major industry issues.
In the AOPA survey, Romney echoes sentiments about general aviation that are similar to Obama’s: “I understand the immense benefits that this form of transportation provides to Americans, both for travel and leisure.”
A Romney administration likely would slow efforts on environmental regulation, such as the push to remove lead from aviation gasoline, Byer suggests, and it also may have a “pro-business” bent.
But industry leaders stress that their issues are largely bipartisan, and the election’s outcome likely will not sway major industry issues such as the $100-per-flight user fee proposal. “Our issues transcend politics,” notes National Business Aviation Association President and CEO Ed Bolen.
Regardless of the election results, industry leaders believe the president-elect must tackle unprecedented budget choices with the prospect of the budget penalty known as sequestration, Bolen says.
Sequestration, which mandates an automatic $1 trillion cut over the next decade, is a potential lose-lose situation, he notes. It was set up to be so painful that Congress would make difficult budget choices to avoid it. That’s where the $100-user-fee proposal becomes worrisome, he says. The Obama administration already supports it, and the plan would raise an estimated $7.4 billion over the next 10 years.
Obama remains committed to the fee, telling AOPA that it is designed “to reduce the deficit and more equitably share the cost of air traffic services.”
But industry leaders do not believe that a Romney win would take the fee proposal off the table. NATA’s Byer notes that every administration over the past three decades has proposed some sort of user fee. “User fees have been an apolitical topic. It’s hard to say whether Romney will support it or not.”
When asked by AOPA about user fees, Romney offered neither support nor opposition. Instead, he says spending is only part of the equation, and “eliminating burdensome regulations and working with the aviation industry to ensure that consumers are receiving the best service possible are equally important to keeping costs down.”