Uncle Sam Wants YOU … to Travel

Posted March 19, 2009 by Nicki Krawczyk

Uncle_sam If you’ve been anxiously following the one-sided feud between the Mayor of Las Vegas and President Obama, a conclusion has been reached: Nobody’s upset anymore.

As you’ll recall, Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and other Nevada officials were rather upset over a comment President Obama made, specifically: "You can't get corporate jets, you can't go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayer's dime." Goodman et al felt that the President was discouraging all people from traveling to Las Vegas. And, if all travel was subsidized by the taxpayers, Goodman would have a point.

As it stands, of course, the President (by way of White House press secretary Robert Gibbs) clarified that he is not, in fact, against people traveling but, rather, against corporations getting billions from the government and then spending those billions on crazy company trips to reward irresponsible executives. (I’m paraphrasing.)

More interestingly, if somewhat predictably, the President also encouraged people to travel because a strong tourist industry is important to a strong economy. He’s right, of course; tourism is a good way to help infuse an economy with cash. And, with the government behind the theory, there could be a great give-and-take among tourists, tax collectors, cities, and travel companies. For example, what if the government gave a tax break to Americans who purchased an intra-U.S. flight and stayed in their destination city for three or more days? People would be more willing to take trips and destination cities, hotels, and airlines would prosper.

Discount travel from travel providers is already a great incentive, of course, but many people still aren’t taking to the open road. Perhaps if the government offered a direct stimulus in the deduction/rebate vein, people would be more inclined to travel. I’m also willing to bet that if people began to travel more within the United States, they would naturally travel more outside of it, too. And if there’s one thing Iceland needs right now, it’s a big old infusion of foreign cash.

The exact path out of the current economic turmoil isn’t clear, though it is clear that lawmakers are going to need many and varied stimuli and solutions. Could a taxpayer domestic travel deduction be one of them? Well, call or email your representatives and perhaps it could. 

(Photo: rockandreview.com)

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