There’s an old Monty Python sketch in which a goober gentleman proposes to levy a “tax on all foreigners living abroad.” It was supposed to be a joke, but the EU is gearing up to levy a tax that amounts to something very similar, and now the Obama administration has signaled that it will not help stop that tax. On Wednesday we blogged that the Senate was set to hold a hearing on the EU’s tax, which is ostensibly a carbon emissions tax. A bipartisan coalition in Congress is fighting the tax, as are the airlines and even Russia and China. It is one of the most egregious forms of taxation without representation of the modern era. It would impose fees on passengers landing in EU airports no matter where their flights originate, supposedly for the purposes of fighting climate change, global warming, whatever they’re calling it today. In practical terms, if you fly from LAX to Spain you will get his with this tax, despite the fact that most of your flight was over either US or neutral airspace.
Everybody outside the EU hates this tax, except, apparently, the President of the United States. Obama claims to oppose it, but this week his transportation secretary has declined to help fight the tax.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is willing to denounce the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS) as a “lousy, bad policy,” but will not support a Congressional mandate to block U.S. air carriers from participating in the system or, for now, back the aviation industry’s call to file a formal complaint at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
“At this point, we’re not prepared to support this legislation, this bill,” LaHood told Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), the top Republican on the Senate Commerce, Transportation and Science Committee, which held a June 6 hearing on the issue.
Hutchison was seeking administration support for a bill that passed in the House of Representatives last fall with a companion measure introduced by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). The bills would prohibit U.S. air carriers from participating in the ETS.
Explaining his position, LaHood said a letter sent about six months ago with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking the EU to reconsider its system and meetings with European transportation ministers about these objections have had their effect. “Some have complained that I’ve been too frank with them . . . They know we think this is a very lousy, bad policy. They know that. I told them,” he said.
Well la ti da, Mr. LaHood. You told them, then they went ahead with the tax anyway. Telling the Eurocrats to stop American carriers and citizens clearly wasn’t enough. You’ll need to do more than tell them. You’ll need to step up, side with the American people, and stop this tax being imposed on us by a foreign government.
As things stand, the Obama administration’s opposition to the Eurotax amounts to this: It’s just words.