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Sequester SouthWester: Congress exposes the FAA's air-traffic furlough game

Posted by on Apr. 29, 2013 at 7:13 AM
  • 13 Replies

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Reuters Passengers with their baggage check in for a flight at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Wednesday.


April 26, 2013, 6:44 p.m. ET

It isn't quite Ronald Reagan breaking the 1981 air-traffic controllers strike by firing 12,345 of them, banning them from government employment for life, and decertifying their union. But it's close enough for cheering. On Thursday night the Senate unanimously reversed the Federal Aviation Administration's sequester furloughs, and the House followed on Friday with a veto-proof majority, 361 to 41.

Remember when the sequester's spending cuts were going to incite mass uprisings for higher taxes? Instead, Senate Democrats and the White House blinked, not least because the FAA's transparent political strategy was to use incompetent government as a bludgeon on behalf of bigger government. The American public waiting in departure lounges figured this out, which is presumably why the political capitulation is so total.

The FAA's all-hands furloughs managed to convert a less than 4% FAA budget cut into a 10% air-traffic control cut that would delay 40% of flights. The 6,700 flights that the FAA threatened to force off schedule every day is twice as many delays as the single worst travel day of 2012.

The Democratic surrender has non-elected liberals in full revolt, claiming Washington somehow bowed to wealthy business travellers—as if the 99% don't save for vacations and two million people aren't in the air every day. Their advice is that the White House should have let the delays mount until Congress also agreed to turn off the entire sequester for low-income housing grants, Meals on Wheels and everything else.

Let us hope for the sake of the poor that other bureaucracies are managing the modest sequester cuts more responsibly than the FAA. But the larger point is that from the beginning the FAA's delays were deliberate and avoidable. The FAA has ample legal discretion to protect core services but chose instead to maximize disruption. It is a sign of the FAA's institutional culture of failure that it can't even sabotage itself successfully.

The Senate bill clarifies that the FAA has the authority to cut waste and nonessential items before it lays off controllers—which the White House falsely claimed the sequester law prohibited it from doing. The six-page bill also specifically identifies $253 million in discretionary unspent airport grants that can be used for air control instead. That's among the $34 billion in so-called "unobligated funds" that the Department of Transportation has on hand this year despite sequestration.

Prior to its bipartisan humiliation, the FAA tried to promote the illusion that it was doing a good job until the sequester came along. While we're glad passengers will now endure fewer pointless delays, the FAA will be dysfunctional no matter how much money it gets and deserves to be punished for its recklessness with a more Reaganesque solution.

To wit, Congress ought to abolish the FAA and privatize the air navigation system the way that Canada and other developed countries have. A nonprofit corporation funded by user fees would make better cost-benefit decisions, tap capital markets, replace old-fashioned technology in a timely way and discipline high labor costs.

In addition to NavCanada, Germany, France, Australia and more than 50 others have made the transition to commercial airspaces. No less than Al Gore tried do this when he was Vice President, only to be routed by the unions. Republicans should try again as a plank of a platform to reform and modernize a government that serves itself before it serves America.

President Obama's latest sequestration gambit backfired for the same reason his previous attempts this year have flopped. The sequester cuts, while often dumb, aren't hollowing out the basic services that voters expect from their government. They are showing instead that government can safely and sensibly be cut if politicians are willing to set priorities and make choices.

by on Apr. 29, 2013 at 7:13 AM
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Replies (1-10):
littlelamb303
by Member on Apr. 29, 2013 at 7:26 AM
1 mom liked this

privatization always means bad service and most likely less regulations which is a HUGE safety issue(just look at what happened in Texas that factory was UNREGULATED and did not have an inspection since 1985).  My dh works for the FAA and makes sure people can safely travel on planes, making sure the runways etc are safe to land on.  Also, Ronald reagan was a senile OLD fool, never fit to be president.  The majority of those air traffic controllers got their jobs back BTW, Bill clinton overturned what reagan did. 

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 29, 2013 at 7:49 AM
1 mom liked this

I think you may have meant to reply to another article. I've done that before- just put it in the wrong place.

Your comments don't really address the point of this article - which is Congress ending the flight delays caused by furloughing too many air traffic controllers at the same time.


Quoting littlelamb303:

privatization always means bad service and most likely less regulations which is a HUGE safety issue(just look at what happened in Texas that factory was UNREGULATED and did not have an inspection since 1985).  My dh works for the FAA and makes sure people can safely travel on planes, making sure the runways etc are safe to land on.  Also, Ronald reagan was a senile OLD fool, never fit to be president.  The majority of those air traffic controllers got their jobs back BTW, Bill clinton overturned what reagan did. 



Meadowchik
by Gold Member on Apr. 29, 2013 at 10:23 AM
2 moms liked this

 This is one of those many moments when I would like to have seen how Mitt Romney would have prioritized budget cuts.  He would have done a helluva good job.

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 29, 2013 at 11:12 PM

BUMP!

grandmab125
by Gold Member on Apr. 30, 2013 at 12:32 AM

 Remember ladies, most of those esteemed members of the House and Senate fly home every weekend.  This was just a self-serving move, IMHO.  Although, I am glad they did it.

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 30, 2013 at 12:39 AM

I respectfully disagree. Apparently these rules weren't being applied in the DC area. Just the rest of the country. And who knows - the members of Congress and the Senate may have been able to get right through, being the celebrities they are.

I think their constituents hassled them out of their minds - and they knew then they could not do anything until the air traffic controller issue was corrected. 


Quoting grandmab125:

 Remember ladies, most of those esteemed members of the House and Senate fly home every weekend.  This was just a self-serving move, IMHO.  Although, I am glad they did it.



grandmab125
by Gold Member on Apr. 30, 2013 at 12:49 AM
1 mom liked this

 It may not have had much effect on DC airports, but remember, they all have to fly back to DC from airports all over the country.

Quoting SallyMJ:

I respectfully disagree. Apparently these rules weren't being applied in the DC area. Just the rest of the country. And who knows - the members of Congress and the Senate may have been able to get right through, being the celebrities they are.

I think their constituents hassled them out of their minds - and they knew then they could not do anything until the air traffic controller issue was corrected. 

 

Quoting grandmab125:

 Remember ladies, most of those esteemed members of the House and Senate fly home every weekend.  This was just a self-serving move, IMHO.  Although, I am glad they did it.

 

 

 

grandma B

SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 30, 2013 at 1:39 AM

It is so ironic and fascinating - that Obama thought by ragging on Republicans, the people would turn on the GOP. He already did the same thing in Feb/March, and it blew up on him.

So he does it again, and the Dem Congress and Senate turn on him.  Ouch. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Times like this make you wonder, did Obama learn NOTHING in the Senate? He's acting like an 8th grader, bullying other students and trying to blame them for not willingly giving him their lunch money every day. .


Quoting grandmab125:

 It may not have had much effect on DC airports, but remember, they all have to fly back to DC from airports all over the country.

Quoting SallyMJ:

I respectfully disagree. Apparently these rules weren't being applied in the DC area. Just the rest of the country. And who knows - the members of Congress and the Senate may have been able to get right through, being the celebrities they are.

I think their constituents hassled them out of their minds - and they knew then they could not do anything until the air traffic controller issue was corrected. 


Quoting grandmab125:

 Remember ladies, most of those esteemed members of the House and Senate fly home every weekend.  This was just a self-serving move, IMHO.  Although, I am glad they did it.



 



SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Apr. 30, 2013 at 3:16 PM
1 mom liked this

I agree - and alluded to this. 

Apparently these rules weren't being applied in the DC area. Just the rest of the country. 

Quoting grandmab125:

 It may not have had much effect on DC airports, but remember, they all have to fly back to DC from airports all over the country.

Quoting SallyMJ:

I respectfully disagree. Apparently these rules weren't being applied in the DC area. Just the rest of the country. And who knows - the members of Congress and the Senate may have been able to get right through, being the celebrities they are.

I think their constituents hassled them out of their minds - and they knew then they could not do anything until the air traffic controller issue was corrected. 


Quoting grandmab125:

 Remember ladies, most of those esteemed members of the House and Senate fly home every weekend.  This was just a self-serving move, IMHO.  Although, I am glad they did it.



 



Billiejeens
by Ruby Member on Apr. 30, 2013 at 3:38 PM
1 mom liked this

 

sadly, probably not - she likes Coco Puffs.

Quoting SallyMJ:

I think you may have meant to reply to another article. I've done that before- just put it in the wrong place.

Your comments don't really address the point of this article - which is Congress ending the flight delays caused by furloughing too many air traffic controllers at the same time.

 

Quoting littlelamb303:

privatization always means bad service and most likely less regulations which is a HUGE safety issue(just look at what happened in Texas that factory was UNREGULATED and did not have an inspection since 1985).  My dh works for the FAA and makes sure people can safely travel on planes, making sure the runways etc are safe to land on.  Also, Ronald reagan was a senile OLD fool, never fit to be president.  The majority of those air traffic controllers got their jobs back BTW, Bill clinton overturned what reagan did. 

 

 


 

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