Remember President Reagan's call for a new tax, or user charger, on the owners of yachts? The idea, part of the economic program Reagan outlined in February, was to get those private boat owners who benefit from the Coast Guard's services to cover some of the almost $1 billion in costs involved. The Coast Guard's search and rescue operation alone will cost almost $370 million in fiscal 1982, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
I was reminded of all this when I came across a notice in the April 13 Federal Register (page 21739) of a meeting May 19 and 20 of the Coast Guard's National Boating Safety Advisory Council. The sessions are being held at the Sheraton-Islander Inn in fashionable Newport, R.I., where the biggest and best of the yachts race.
The agenda, which includes a presentation of strobe lights, discussion of uniform waterways marking system for slalom ski courses and a briefing on boat construction standards, makes no mention of any time devoted to the yacht tax which could pay for it all.
In fact, however, the administration put its yacht tax idea into the form of legislation and sent it to Capitol Hill March 13. The problem is that as of last week, try as administration officials might, they couldn't get one senator or congressman to introduce the measure.
As fate would have it, however, the very same day the boating safety group is meeting in Newport, a House subcommittee on the Coast Guard will be listening to Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis give his views on the yacht tax -- which it seems fair to say does not seem to have drawn the same measure on some other aspects of the Reagan economic program.