Our View: D.C. and the Friendly Skies

May 1, 2013
By

The whole air traffic controller fiasco demonstrates that politicians can come together and take a scalpel to federal programs

Count us among those shocked — shocked! – that the sun has continued to rise each morning since President Obama and his friends in Congress failed to prevent the automatic spending cuts known as the “budget sequester.”

When Mr. Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and others initially created this so-called “problem” last year, the intent was to package budget cuts that would be so offensive to both sides that neither party would bear letting them actually happen. 

Well, after a whole lot of whining and crying, the cuts kicked in — and the sky didn’t fall after all.

But it did create some problems for Members of Congress who enjoy flying those skies.

Democrats in Congress – Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) among them – have been seeking out any and every opportunity they could to highlight just how painful the cuts from the sequester could be to average citizens.  And we all remember the dire predictions:  Teachers would be laid off, children booted off of Head Start begging in the streets, seniors choosing between dog food and prescriptions, penniless college students forced to eat uninspected meat (since funds for food inspectors and student loans would be chopped), to say nothing of crowded airports. Oh, the humanity of it all!

Which leads us to the news last week that Congress – on the eve of a busy travel weekend – rushed through a measure designed to allow the Federal Aviation Administration to use unspent money in other accounts to restore funding for air traffic controllers who were furloughed as part of the sequester.

Of course, the measure was written and rushed through after members of Congress began hearing from constituents about travel delays at airports around the country (many of which had more to do with weather than the tin-pushers in the towers).

What this whole episode demonstrates is that politicians can, in fact, come together and take a scalpel to federal programs instead of the dreaded meat cleaver oftentimes associated with budget sequestration — something that Barack Obama and congressional Democrats tried to convince us was utterly impossible in the lead up to that dreaded “fiscal cliff.”

Unfortunately for do-gooders like Senator Udall, Coloradans understand that if keeping air-traffic controllers in their jobs was really a priority, and not a political ploy, Congress could have passed this measure weeks ago and spared us the drama.

That said, we’re sure relived that Senator Udall and all of his colleagues were able to fly the friendly skies this past weekend without suffering the dreaded indignity of hanging out in an airport waiting on a delayed flight.  Because that really would be painful.

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