Airlines Protest Tax Hikes Using Sick Bags

USA Today: Airlines have begun handing out air-sickness bags to illustrate their opposition to higher taxes. 

Nick Calio, president of the Air Transport Association, held a bag aloft Tuesday during a Washington Aero Club luncheon speech in which he spoke out against President Obama's proposed departure tax and increase on security taxes.

"It's enough to make you sick, isn't it?" he asked, to laughter from 250 industry representatives.

Obama has proposed boosting the security tax from $2.50 per leg of a domestic flight to $5 for each one-way trip, with further 50-cent-a-year increases over the next five years. He also wants to create a $100 departure tax for each flight, which wouldn't apply to the military, emergency medical flights or planes with piston engines.

If Congress agrees, the taxes would raise an estimated $36 billion over 10 years, with $15 billion slated for deficit reduction. Obama argued in unveiling the taxes that everyone should pay a fair share and get a fair shake.

The air-sickness bags, which made their debut at the lunch, are part of an advertising campaign against the taxes primarily aimed at the congressional "super-committee" that is looking for $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by Thanksgiving.

The bags ask: "Sick of taxes?" with an arrow pointed to the top. "Stop new airline taxes from driving up costs and reducing service."

Calio acknowledged that even some Republicans consider airline taxes "low-hanging fruit" to pick because they would be considered user fees passed along to passengers through ticket prices. But he said raising prices would reduce the number of tickets sold, which would hurt staffing and ultimately the economy.

"These should be the forbidden fruit," Calio said. "Whatever you want to call them, the airline tax proposals make no sense whatsoever."


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