The U.S Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is estimating that the House proposal to create an independent air traffic control organization would increase the federal deficit by nearly $100 billion through 2027. This estimate is revised from an earlier CBO tally of a $20.7 billion increase to deficit, which did not factor in tax changes and other recent additions to the ATC proposal. Democratic leaders had asked the CBO to take a new look at the costs associated with the proposal, saying changes to the bill and taxes associated with the ATC proposal would increase the deficit by billions more than original estimates.
General aviation leaders pointed to the updated estimate as another reason the proposal should be shelved. “This study is further evidence that ATC privatization is a bad idea for all Americans,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “Adding to the budget deficit, just to help the big airlines, is the definition of bad public policy.”
“How can anyone think this is a good idea?” asked AOPA president and CEO Mark Baker. “Imagine if we used that effort and money to continue modernizing an incredibly safe system that is already the envy of the world. Then we’d really have something.”
But the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which approved the ATC proposal as part of a six-year FAA reauthorization package in June, called the new finding “still incomplete” and said “the updated CBO information is not accurate.” The committee pointed to an analysis by think-tank ENO Center for Transportation, which essentially found that the estimate did not fully reflect the removal of the organization from the federal budget process.