Visa Waiver Program Tariff
Somehow, I don’t think this is what people had in mind when Obama said he would be creating jobs. According to an article by the Associated Press reported at Yahoo News, the European Union is up in arms about a new proposed fee for tourists to the United States from people in countries who are not required to obtain a visa to enter the country*.
Europeans have had the ability to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa just as we have the same luxury when visiting there. Earlier this year, the U.S. began requiring visitors from these nations to give 72 hours notice prior to arrival by registering online at least every two years. A new bill being considered by Congress would impose a fee of $10 U.S. when registering.
The nominal fee, according to one of the bill’s sponsors, Democratic Rep. William Delahunt, will cover the expense of…wait for it…advertising and administering registration for the non-visa visa (that is, the waiver program). Sponsors of the public-private partnership for the travel campaign promotion have billed it as cost-free to U.S. taxpayers. European Commission’s Ambassador to Washington, John Bruton had this to say about the new proposed fee,
Only in Alice in Wonderland could a penalty be seen as promoting the activity on which it is imposed.
As a result, the EU is looking at ways to retaliate, including considering requiring visas for visitors from the United States. This will only serve to discourage tourism on both continents, as well as increasing costs for businesses which will have to be passed on to consumers.
Once again our government is creating a new bureaucracy out of thin air to create more government jobs which, rather than contributing to a difficult economy, will actually serve to put even more strain on it. Weren’t we also told during the campaign that Obama’s vast foreign policy experience would prevent other nations from reacting negatively to our policy decisions? What this shows, once again, is an inexperienced Administration that acts without considering the consequences. It’s like the teenage kid that has to learn everything the hard way.
* I noticed this visa waiver program form on my way back from Singapore recently. I hadn’t seen it before and was wondering what had changed. Now I know…