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Sunday, September 25, 2016

In a stunning example of how Washington can get nearly anything passed in a few hours if it really wants to, the House has overwhelmingly approved a measure that will allow the Department of Transportation to transfer up to $250 million to keep the 149 FAA air traffic control towers set to close as a result of the sequestration open through November.

The Senate passed the same bill Thursday night by unanimous consent and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has said the president will sign it.

For many on the left, this decision shows that the president is losing the debate on the automatic budget cuts he agreed to in 2011 in order to end the debt limit crisis. The so-called “sequester” is designed to inflict pain so that the cuts would be averted or ended quickly. Since they’ve gone into effect, Head Start programs for poor kids have been cut, veterans programs canceled and public housing assistance delayed.

But flight delays as a result of FAA cuts were the first instance of the pain of the cuts hitting elites like members of Congress and those who have their collective ear. And less a week after the delays began, Congress has found a way to comfort those affected by them.

The New Republic‘s Noam Scheiber understands why Republicans wanted to do this, but not Democrats:

Pretty much the only response conservatives could muster was to cry cynicism—that Obama could have shielded air traffic controllers from the cuts, but simply chose not to in a Marxist effort to heighten the contradictions. “The White House claims … it lacks flexibility,” The Wall Street Journal bleated on Wednesday. “Not so: This is a political pose to make the sequester more disruptive.” Alas, in the history of PR fights, “you caused this” (the Democratic argument) has never lost to “you didn’t do enough to stop this” (the Republican claim). I doubt this would have been the episode that broke the streak. If Democrats had held firm, they wouldn’t just have won this particular sequester skirmish. They may well have forced the GOP to junk the entire godforsaken sequester itself.

  • Lynda Groom

    Of course it is a band aid approach. That is all this crowd in Washington is capable of handling. Just small bites, and only one at a time. Trying to run a government is difficult as the ‘sequester’ has proven. The bill was passed back in 2011 to force the clown show to finally put aside the quest to put the uterus back in the box (pardon the pun) and actually work of fiscal issues. Well we all know just how well that turned out. The flying public raised so much hell that they were forced into some form of action. Too bad the poor don’t have a more effective lobby fighting for them…and the beat goes on.

  • Loren Parker

    Try something on for size: some the *highest* taxes borne by any part of US society are the taxes levied on the aviation industry and paid by its passenger-customers. Don’t believe me? Next time you buy a ticket add up the taxes and note the % of taxes to the ticket price paid.
    Where do these aviation taxes go?
    Are they not paid with the expectation that the monies will be used to furnish the services required for safe and successful air travel?

    Does the FAA not have a direct obligation to travelers that pay these taxes as part of a travel expenses to render the services required. Or perhaps individuals should be allowed by airlines to refuse to pay taxes until the FAA can resolve its budgetary quagmire.

    • Lynda Groom

      Don’t forget that a full 70% of the FAA operational budget is for personnel. When you cut $600 million from the budget we can’t expect everything to remain as before.

  • Archie’s Boy

    Well, this gives it away: If you want *immediate* action out of Congress, make sure they’re personally “discommoded” about something. That, or something that threatens to vote them out of office.

    • These People In Offices Are Only Looking Out For Themselves And Other Rich People!!!

    • sigrid28

      Perhaps the cafeterias on capitol hill and in the White House should serve a Meals-on-Wheels menu for lunch until these frequent flyers catch on. Or let them be served the snack that is sometimes left for indigent seniors along with a Meal-on-Wheels: bologna and government cheese on thin white bread, maybe a piece of fruit.

    • sigrid28

      Children in Washington, D.C., who will not be able to attend Head Start because of the Sequester should be visitors to the Capitol each day they would have been in preschool. I hope the Capitol washrooms are equipped with diaper changing tables. Let representatives and senators, with their entourages trailing behind, sashay through crowds of mothers with strollers trying to manage kids with sticky fingers and sooth crying babies. Let’s declare each day these children cannot attend their Head Start programs Bring a Preschool Constituent to Work Day. The patter of little feet racing up and down the tiers of the House and Senate would use up some of the time wasted waiting for a speaker to come to the floor. I am sure the members will be happy to show these little future voters how to play games on their laptops or read them stories. The kids will really like speaking into the microphones set up all over the place and asking questions. And it’s a money saver at the same time: no more need for the runners sitting around waiting to do the bidding of the House, for example. Now, each senator would have their own runner!

      • Welcome back Sigrid. I love your idea.

        • sigrid28

          Hi, Dominick. I’m back but I’m still grumpy.

  • Mark Forsyth

    I’ll admit that I don’t know exactly what the process would be,but it seems that American citizens need to put a fire under the collective congressional ass and keep it burning if we are going to get these poseurs to do anything.

  • latebloomingrandma

    So the Congress passed this bill in less than a week because the public was outraged? Riiiight. It had nothing to do with their next week off and getting home. Where were they when 90% of the public wanted background checks for gun purchases? The fact is when you take an ax and hack $82 billion dollars from a budget, all areas are effected. People didn’t believe it until they experienced a little pain. Unfortunately, 4 year old kids in Head Start don’t vote and have no lobby. And old people who depend on meals on wheels, well, their churches can help them out. You really don’t see their plight on TV like long lines at the airport.

    • 1bythebrooks2

      I totally agree with you. They came up with this decision just in time to not be dirupted at all in their week off.

  • You Got Kids Kicked Out Of Preschool And Who Can No Longer Have Lunch In School And They Turn A Blind eye To Kids But Their Butt Have To Wait Longer In Line At Airports And They Rush To Fix That!!! I Can’t Wait Till Next Year To Get More Of These No Good People Out Of Offices!!! 🙁 And We’ll See Just How Stuck On Stupid The American People Really Are!!!

  • Allan Richardson

    What do you expect? The opposite of PRO is CON, which makes CONgress …

  • whodatbob

    If the President signs this bill it is another indication he, just like the repuicks, is for the rich and does not care about the rest of us.

  • I have a great fear that Congress, the President, the Supreme Courtiers and the Senate will so hate their consitutents for being poor and needy that we may all be incarcerated just for being. I mean do you not feel the love from we the elected and the chosen few (About 1% of us) for we the people who stand between them and the rest of the money?

  • It is a long tradition of these folks of allowing the guilty to flee by plane when questions are going to be asked, it has happened before.

  • Da filth, da horrendous filth that is generated in those sacred halls would daunt even a Greek Demi-god tasked with cleaning the stables on the Potomac!

  • Charles___Darwin

    “Air travel”? That burns nasty hydrocarbons high in the atmosphere. Leftists should be flying anyway; it would be hypocritical. Hard to go to tour France or go on an eco-tour if one’s not flying.