Fiscal cliff or ramp

Is it a fiscal cliff or a ramp? A group of AOPA donors heard the debate at an AOPA Aviation Roundtable event in the Smoky Mountain region of Tennessee last weekend. AOPA President Craig Fuller described the much-discussed “fiscal cliff” as potentially a downward ramp instead. It seems that while the debate goes on between the White House and Congress and compromise seems not likely—at least at the moment—federal agencies, including the FAA, are conflicted on how to react.

aopa roundtable AOPA President Craig Fuller shares ideas on how the sequester legislation may impact aviation with a breakfast crowd at this month's Aviation Roundtable in Tennessee.

The poison-pill “sequester” legislation meant to evoke a compromise will require federal agencies to slash spending drastically if a compromise is not made by yearend, with some saying a proposal is needed by Dec. 15 to allow time for debate. The FAA is reportedly on the hook for $1 billion in cuts by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2013, if there is no compromise. But when the legislation kicks in Jan. 2—again, if no compromise is met—the 2013 fiscal year will be a quarter over, requiring the agency to find that $1 billion savings across only nine months, not 12. As Fuller reported, the agencies have been told not to begin cuts in advance of the cliff, under the hopes that a compromise will be reached.

Regardless, come Jan. 2 with no compromise, implementing spending cuts will take time, meaning that the savings will be further back-loaded toward the end of the fiscal year. The result: more of a downward ramp in spending than a cliff.

Besides the latest updates from Washington, D.C., the 32 donors and spouses heard a political debate between Fuller, who formerly worked in the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, and Greg Pecoraro, AOPA’s vice president of airports and state advocacy. Pecoraro is a former Democratic superdelegate and staffer in numerous Democratic positions.

aopa roundtable An agricultural expert explains farming techniques to a group of AOPA Foundation donors during social time at this month's Aviation Roundtable in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains.

In the end, the two agreed that while President Barack Obama appears to have the upper hand given the election results, compromise will be necessary by both parties in order to prevent a potentially dramatic negative impact on the economy come Jan. 2.

AOPA Senior Vice President of Media and Editor in Chief Tom Haines shared with the group the association’s latest media strategy, including the launch earlier this year of AOPA Live This Week—a streaming video webcast of the week’s aviation news and features. AOPA’s video studio was in part funded by a grant from the AOPA Foundation. Haines also updated the group on AOPA Media’s newest offerings, e-books featuring Never Again and Landmark Accident articles. The group also heard the latest updates about the association’s flight planning products, including the status of AOPA FlyQ EFB, which became available this fall.

An AOPA President’s Council donor helped organize and host the event. The roundtable is one of several such events held each year around the country to update donors and potential donors about the association’s initiatives and objectives while allowing the donors to socialize and network. Donors pay their own way to the events.