In the wake of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, then White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel spouted what seems to be the ethos of the current Administration, namely, “never let a good crisis go to waste.” In the absence of a “good” crisis, we can only assume, you manufacture one.
The 2013 sequester cuts from the 2011 Budget Control Act represent a paltry 1.4% of the Department of Transportation’s annual budget and even with the cuts their budget increased this year. Despite the sequester cuts and the President’s woeful rhetoric regarding their impact, Washington is expected to take in more revenue (in fact, record revenue) this year than last. This should be no cause for panic, but, in the world of politics, perception is reality. And no one hits the panic button as well (and, as it turns out, with such regularity) as the Federal government.
On April 25, Americans For Prosperity activists took to the streets around Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson and other airports affected by recent FAA air traffic controller furloughs and changed the perception that Washington must cut vital government services over such infinitesimal spending cuts. In the process, they discovered a template for calling Washington’s bluff on future scare-quester rhetoric.
Within 24 hours of the rallies, both chambers of Congress passed legislation that allows the FAA the flexibility to allocate existing resources in order to avoid cuts to vital services. If they can be so efficient when the pressure is on, we have learned that they can prioritize spending of existing resources when they want to without asking taxpayers for more money.
Of course, in the spirit of Washington’s manufactured histrionics, I could not get back to a word processor fast enough to write this before D.C. (with a little help from their friends in the media) rushed out to prove me right. In the space of 4 days, they are floating 7 newly-minted doomsday scenarios for public consumption. The newest targets? Try Veterans Services, Meals On Wheels, Housing Benefits, National Parks, Unemployment Benefits, Cancer Clinics and Food Safety. I guess this is a heads up on the next 7 protest rallies (ahem, public education initiatives) that will be popping up on the calendars of common-sense activists like those in Americans For Prosperity. We’re sure to be pulling up the data on a half dozen more federal agencies who are “having” to cut vital services, in the near future. It all begs the question, is Washington, D.C., actually serious or are they just trying to face save at this point?
Shame, by itself, is no deterrent to a government run by politicians with a power obsession. But the political language they DO understand, as it turns out, is a danger to their power. While they have little to fear from the often esoteric arguments floated by limited government-types to a low information citizenry, they do take it on the chin when those arguments of blame and the corresponding calls for limited government focus on a widespread concern that impacts virtually everyone at some level–namely, things like flight delays and flight cancellations! Shame and ridicule about issues that are buried under 3 pages of economic data, pie charts and philosophy, are easy to ridicule and dismiss in such a way that they rarely receive a critical mass of scrutiny. Consequently, these issues (and Washington, D.C.s mismanagement of them) rarely receive the critical mass of shame that it takes to move the needle of public opinion. BUT, shame and ridicule that exposes the ridiculous nature of this power-obsessed, big government crowd, over issues that everyone can relate to, is something more difficult for them to overcome.
What have we learned through the manufactured “sky crisis” of FAA furloughs? We have learned that scare-quester-mongering over cuts to vital government services are specious, at best, and they are becoming a tough sell with the American public. We have learned that Washington’s ineptitude is no cause for our alarm and even less of an argument for us to fork over additional tax revenues to them. And we have learned how little they respect the American People by the way they leverage non-crisis situations in order to exact pain without regard to the impact it has on everyday Americans. It’s time to refuse to be the political pawns in a never-ending argument for ever-increased spending. It’s time to name Washington for what it has become – a child with a temper tantrum who has never learned restraint, pitching a fit in a room full of toys because his parents dare tell him that he can’t have one more. It’s time to call Washington’s bluff and be an American for prosperity!