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Dems Want More Anti-Sequestration Deals After FAA Save

Some opposed congressional agreement on air traffic controllers because it did not repeal Head Start cuts.

Bill Straub


April 29, 2013 - 12:57 pm

WASHINGTON – Congress acted with unusual dexterity last week in resolving issues that air travelers were facing as a result of sequestration, and Democrats now want lawmakers to act with similar haste in aiding other sectors dealing with across-the-board budget cuts.

The House and Senate tapped into some unused Federal Aviation Administration funds on Friday to make sure the nation’s 15,000 air traffic controllers avoided furloughs of up to 11 days each before Sept. 30, an occurrence that would have led to massive flight delays and cancellations across the country.

Now critics of sequestration, implemented in March when Congress and the White House were unable to strike a deal to reduce the nation’s deficit, are demanding that Washington come up with ways to similarly bolster other programs, many of which, they note, help people who earn significantly less than those who can afford a plane ticket.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, of Maryland, opposed the FAA deal because it “fails to address the whole impact of sequester.”

“We ought not to be mitigating the sequester’s effect on just one segment when children, the sick, our military and many other groups who will be impacted by this irresponsible policy are left unhelped,” Hoyer said. “Instead of dressing this serious wound with a small Band-Aid, let’s get to work on a real solution, let’s go to conference, let’s get a big deal, let’s deal with all the adverse consequences of sequester, not just those that affect the powerful air travelers of America. We ought to help them, but we ought to help everybody else as well.”

Republicans, many of whom have learned to embrace sequestrations as a means to slash federal spending and cut into the $16.8 trillion national debt, dismissed the objections and countered that the air traffic controllers’ situation was intentionally ginned up by the Obama administration to create thousands of hours of travel delays and rally opposition to the agreement.

“The disruption to America’s air traffic system over the past week was a consequence of the administration’s choice to implement the president’s sequestration cuts in the most painful manner possible,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “It’s unacceptable that the FAA chose not to plan for sequestration or utilize the flexibility it already has. Americans were rightly fed up, and it’s unfortunate that the House and Senate were forced to step in and fix the problem when the president chose not to act.”

The action taken by Congress, Boehner said, will assure that air travelers “will no longer be burdened by President Obama’s flight delays and our economy will not take an unnecessary hit.”

The White House, he warned, must “learn how to do more with less.” He said that while sequestration is “bad policy,” Obama has “an obligation to implement these cuts in a way that respects the American people, rather than using them for political leverage.”

As a result of sequestration, 70,000 children will not be able to participate in Head Start, according to Democratic critics of the plan. Furloughs will force delays in processing retirement and disability claims. Four million fewer Meals on Wheels for seniors will be delivered. About 600,000 people will be dropped from the WIC program that provides healthcare and nutrition to low-income pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and infants and children under the age of 5.

Sequester also means 125,000 fewer Housing and Urban Development rental assistant vouchers will be distributed, critics continue. Emergency unemployment insurance will be cut 11 percent for 2 million of those out of work. There also 2,100 fewer food safety inspectors as a result and there are expected to be longer waits to approve new drugs. The Internal Revenue Service has furloughed about 89,000 workers, many of whom are charged with assisting 97 million taxpayers.

On the defense and homeland security side of the ledger, federal furloughs will mean the equivalent of 1,000 fewer FBI, Border Patrol, and other law enforcement agents on the job at least through Sept. 30. One-third of the nation’s combat air units are grounded.

“Sequestration is a mindless, across-the-board cutting of what we are now recognizing, and the Republicans are recognizing, of something that should not be cut,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, of California.

Pelosi called out congressional Republicans, asserting it is “ludicrous” that they fail to understand that sequestration is hurting more than their local airports.

“Why don’t you (Republicans) understand that there is a great deal at stake including the efficiency and the safety of our airports but also, again, the education of our children?” she said. “How can we sit there and say, ‘Four million Meals on Wheels for seniors gone? ‘But that’s not important.’ Over 70,000 children off Head Start. ‘But that’s not important.’”

Obama also chimed in, using his weekly radio address to blame congressional Republicans for the “reckless cuts” forced by sequestration and urging lawmakers to work toward “replacing it before it causes further damage.”

Regardless, Obama signed the FAA legislation even through he earlier said he was only interested in a total reworking of the issue.

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, of Texas, maintained the administration and its Democratic cohorts used the FAA issue to generate opposition to budget cuts.

“The president and his administration traveled the country and tried to stir up anxiety and concern and fear over the imposition of the sequester, warning that the sky would fall like a modern-day ‘Chicken Little,’” Cornyn said. “Well, it’s been almost two months since the sequester took effect and the administration’s claims that the sky would fall have each proven to be false.”

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, accused the White House of intentionally creating a crisis for air travelers.

“They could have cut spending elsewhere,” Shuster said. “They could have taken into account air traffic patterns, and made sure controllers would be in place where they were most needed. Or they could have reached out to Congress and the airlines to have a plan in place ahead of time.”

Instead, he said, the White House imposed furloughs “because there are some in the Obama Administration who thought inflicting pain on the public would give the president more leverage to avoid making necessary spending cuts and to impose more tax hikes on the American people.”

But Republicans “kept the heat on,” Shuster said. “The pressure worked, and again we’ve seen that when the people speak out, government has an obligation to listen.”

Washington freelancer Bill Straub is former White House correspondent for Scripps Howard News Service.

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All Comments   (16)
All Comments   (16)
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Boehner speaking of the FAA and it supposedly possessing, '..flexibility..' - Hahaha

Yeah, a public sector union leviathan sucking on the government teet from the likes of the overpaid, overwhelmingly lethargic, unpunished employees of the FAA - Speaker Boehner, do tell another knee-slapper!

Man, privatize this federal entity already. Canada's ATC is privatized whereas the controlling companies MUST stay within/ under budget, the equipment is modern, more efficient and underperforming controllers are canned or imprisoned for their screw ups.

You know, like REAL companies function!

While Canada's flight corridors are far less numbered and less busy - their ATC's commitment in doing what's right by it's passengers, citizenry and nation takes precedence over their own selfish needs.

Again, something the Fed and it's tentacle-like self-serving employees can't/ won't grasp nor fathom.

President Kardashian had 2 years, 2 years before this MUCH NEEDED slowdown in Federal pay took root.

Never let a crisis, even one made by his very own hand - go to waste. Right President Uhblahblah?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Hey, here's a great idea for the Dems: how about an annual budget!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
didn't a certain president promise to veto any attempt to repeal or go around the sequester? i'm almost sure i heard words to that end. maybe it was just voices in my head. you know the ones.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't imagine this will make anyone question the wisdom of over-dependence on the government. Doing without - not a concept Americans will accept easily. But it's what has to happen when money is tight (or rather, when you're trillions of dollars in debt).

An economy built on government largesse is as false as an economy built on slavery. Neither one is strong enough to stand on its own.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Steny (can I call you Steny?), Nan, Barack et al....why don't y'all get a decent copy of the constitution, make a pot of coffee, sit down and read what it says - Sequestration wouldn't even be on the radar screen, if you eliminated things like Head Start, Meals on wheels, the EPA, Depts of Edukashun, redundant agencies, lifetime protection for former presidents, free airplane use for senators, and allow the states and constitution to work as intended...oh, and maybe limit vacations to 2 a year or less..??
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I guess that's the trouble with democracy. Somebody's ox is always getting gored. We might think Meals on Wheels is a crock. Why can't some nice charity take care of those shut-ins? How about all those rich people and corporations who give money to PBS - couldn't they feed a few old people instead of funding endless re-runs of British TV shows?

But somewhere out there are people who think civilization will come to an end if you even look at Meals on Wheels funny. They cannot imagine a world without Meals on Wheels. Having Meals on Wheels is Progress. Not having it is Regress - a descent into the evil times when lonely shut-ins had to fend for themselves. To such people, Meals on Wheels isn't a "nice-to-have" item - it's an "essential" item. No cuts allowed.

For every bit of "excess" government spending, there's someone out there for whom it is not "excess" but EVERYTHING.

How do you deal with them?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
With capitalism, the society has organizations (private) that do their best with donations and other help to provide for the poor.

The poor suffer.

With socialism, the government operatives choose to use other peoples' money to help the poor.

The poor suffer.

If there was ever an argument to not be poor and to learn to provide for oneself and compete so that one is not poor, it would be---being poor.

Now that poor is an accepted lifestyle like being gay or trans-lesbian or whatever the hell people all themselves, it would seem that it's filled with the trappings of any/every "victim" group there is. Hurray.

Hope everybody's happy. I'm all for taking care of myself, given the resources at-hand to do so. Being poor sucks. That's why I got an education and a job that keeps me from being so.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My sentiment exactly.

If there was EVER a desire, reason for not being poor, it's this and infinitely-like more examples.

For relying on an entity that is tens of trillions of dollars in debt (including present, future retired gubmint employees) whose mere existence and it's continued disgusting dependence is due to inevitable false promises, shortcomings.

All the while these gumbint heads demagoguing the very successful, innovative private sectors they pilfer!

Pathetically, ungratefully trying to encourage the public to rely more upon this self-serving, unchecked, economically imbalanced lifelong grifters.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I wasn't implying that MOW or any of those things were not needed, just that the Federal Gov't has no right - literally - to take it upon itself to provide it..
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm tired...

- of the straw-man arguments posed by the democrats - that it was a republican idea. How the hell did any of them manage to figure out the sequester was pointed solidly at programs like WIC?

I'm also tired of the republicans who fail to point out the fallacy of the straw-man argument - but most of all I'm tired of the MSM giving cover to the democrats.

I guess I'm just tired of politics.

I think I'll go take a nap...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Uh, whose Idea was sequestration again? And while we are at it how long did we have before the idea was even brought forth to bring spending down? How long after it was passed did these people have to come up with ways that would fit into sequestration that wouldn't cause so much pain? Gee, it must be hard to breathe through all that sand these id10ts have their heads buried in.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It ain't sand that prevents them from breathing properly. Cranial-Rectumitis is the 'disease' - there seems to be no cure available.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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