President Obama has been talking a lot recently. The latest revelation – he thinks he’s “eye candy.” While he’s lost in self-discovery on “The View” and “Late Night with David Letterman,” the U.S. Senate managed to muster enough votes to actually pass a piece of legislation, unanimously, which is near impossible for a body that hasn’t passed a budget in three years.
The piece of legislation in question is a bill that reiterates that U.S. airspace is sovereign territory, out of reach of European regulators intent on taxing U.S. airlines for flights in domestic air. A full 100 senators – part of the most dysfunctional body in politics – authorized the transportation secretary to stop U.S. airlines from complying with the EU regulation, a move that would spur Europe to think twice before implementing the regulation next year, particularly when combined with sharp criticism internationally.
Both China and India have barred their airlines from participating, while Brazil is also exploring options to protect its domestic airlines. China even went so far as to freeze $14 billion in deals with Airbus, threatening a trade war.
Not only are Europe’s regulations a threat to a vital U.S. industry, but they also set a terrible precedent that could open the door to more intrusive taxes. Once America cedes ground on this issue, we will never recover.
But the White House has been mum on the bill. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was an outspoken critic of Europe’s tax, saying that the EU proposal was “lousy” and warning that Europe should not “assume we’re all just going to go along with it.” However, now, Secretary LaHood says that the administration has not taken a position on the bill.
What’s changed? Pressure from fringe environmental groups, key to the president’s election strategy, has grown. These fringe groups are content to ignore decades of international precedent so long as it accomplishes their goal.
The only question is whether President Obama will oblige them. So far, he is doing his part to stay silent.