Georgia travelers are experiencing flight delays at Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport as a result of Federal Aviation Association (FAA) furloughs on air traffic controllers. Why them? Because according to the White House and the Department of Transportation, there’s no other way to make the cuts required in the sequester.
But the Department of Transportation’s $73.2 billion budget was cut by only $1 billion, which is less than 1.4 percent of the total budget. Even with those cuts, their budget this year is still higher than last year’s. Many airline officials, industry experts, and elected lawmakers say the FAA has “other means” to achieve the budget reduction “other than to impact the traveling public.” Airlines for America president and CEP Nick Calio said in a recent CBS News interview, “When a company needs to make a 10 percent budget reduction, the answer is not to make it is so inefficient that no one wants to do business with it anymore. That’s essentially what the FAA is proposing, and in doing so harming the 2 million passengers and shippers that fund two-thirds of its budget.'”
The flight delays are the result of the White House playing political games. The airline industry says flexibility would help, the Department of Transportation (DOT) will spend more this year than last year even after sequester cuts and has spent hundreds of millions on other programs, and the federal government is projected to collect record revenue this year.
But the DOT is getting the same treatment that other agencies impacted by the sequester have already received, namely, make it painful on purpose! In March, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service official Charles Brown said he asked if he could try to spread out the sequester cuts in his region to minimize the impact. According to internal emails, he was told not to do anything that would lessen the dire impacts Congress had been warned of.”
Is there really no way the government can maintain current services even though it is spending more money and collecting more revenue? Apparently not, when you’re out to inflict pain on those who stood fast against government spending while applying Capitol Hill pressure to spend even more on top of it.
AFP-GA will host a protest rally, “Keep Your Politics Off Our Planes”, on Thursday, April 25 at 11am at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Details here.