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President Obama is due to present his budget on April 10, and it is likely to include aviation user fees.

Press Secretary Carney yet again singled out "corporate jet" owners on April 5, and 223 House members, including aviation panel leaders Frank LoBiondo and Rick Larsen, wrote to Obama expressing their "strong opposition to continued support of a $100 per flight fee on commercial and general aviation." Obama has proposed a similar fee a number of times before, but Congress has failed to include it in the final budget.

Even before the unveiling of his proposals, Obama is taking political heat from Democrats and liberal groups for compromising too much. And congressional Republican leaders must decide how to respond to Obama's bargaining, including a determination whether the spending cuts and other concessions offered by the president are, in fact, enough to give ground on their anti-tax positioning.

The Administration has been leaking an unusually large amount of information about the president’s budget. We know that it includes most of the elements of the debt reduction plan the president offered to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last year, thus it includes some entitlement reform, some other spending cuts and some increases in tax revenues.

On the revenue side, it appears the big-ticket item will be a limitation on the ability of high-income individuals to deduct various expenses. They would be able to deduct only 28 percent of those expenses. It does not appear the budget will specify which deductions would be subject to the limitation.

Both the House and Senate have passed budget bills – the latter for the first time in four years. But the two chambers are on hold in the budget dance until the president’s budget lands and will then size up where it falls on the partisan spectrum.

The House bill by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would balance the budget in 10 years, but by slashing Obamacare, Medicaid, and Medicare. The Senate budget authored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) does not balance – Obama’s budget is not expect to either – and raises taxes while still cutting spending.

The president's budget proposal will also include as much as $600 billion in new revenues or tax hikes, and a new formula for calculating inflation that would reduce cost-of-living payments for Social Security benefits for some recipients, an idea referred to as "chained CPI." (A detailed RotorNews article discussing chained CPI can be found here.)

A new poll highlights just how hard it may be to get lawmakers on board with Obama’s chained CPI proposal. The proposal is simple: tie benefit increases and other changes to a slower and arguably more accurate measure of price inflation. Anonymous White House officials speaking to The New York Times and The Washington Post were careful to portray it as a key Republican demand.

But seniors, a group with a disproportionately high voter turnout, are, unsurprisingly, opposed to the idea, according to a new poll from the giant seniors lobby AARP. Two-thirds of 800 registered voters over the age of 50 – 66 percent – said they would view their own member of Congress less favorably for backing chained CPI. (The share among only Republicans was 60 percent.) The very idea of using Social Security benefit cuts to reduce the deficit was opposed by 84 percent of the over-50 crowd, according to the poll from AARP. And 73 percent strongly oppose the idea.

Obama may be floating potential budget savings in Medicare and other entitlement programs in an effort to convince Republicans to renew talks over a larger bargain, one that goes beyond just the next fiscal year's finances.

Such a bargain would seek to end Washington's chronic budget impasses with a multiyear plan to shrink the deficit, while securing an agreement to raise the debt ceiling this summer and avoid defaulting on the nation's debt. Talks over such a deal came undone last year when the president insisted on higher taxes for the rich and corporations.

Posted in: Washington News
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