Carney on furloughs and flight delays: Hey, don’t say we didn’t warn you
posted at 2:01 pm on April 24, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
Yes, you also warned us that we wouldn’t have meat inspections and that children would be denied vaccinations, remember? During Tuesday’s briefing, after the news from the FAA that employee furloughs were starting to cause flight delays (watch the vid at RCP):
I find it fascinating that Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate, is decrying the sequester that he decried in the past and then supported. This is a result of the sequester being implemented. We made it clear that there would be these kinds of negative effects if Congress failed to take reasonable action to avert the sequester — policy that everyone who was involved in writing it knew at the time and has made clear ever since was never designed to be implemented. It was designed to be bad policy and, therefore, to be avoided. The fact is Congress had an opportunity, but Republicans made a choice. … The President has put forward a comprehensive, balanced approach to deficit reduction that would eliminate the sequester. But this is Congress’s responsibility. It needs to take action.
Uhm, pretty brashly indignant there, considering that your boss also supported and is now decrying the sequester, and then went on to do his absolute best to get the cuts to avoid both flexibility and accountability while striking as much fear as possible into the hearts of all Americans.
As the WSJ points out, these flight delays are just another orchestrated part of the continuing sequestration-scaremongering strategy; kind of odd that the FAA can’t manage its operations with a budget comparative to that of only a few years ago while air-traffic levels have declined, no?
Ponder this logic, if that’s the right word: The sequester cuts about $637 million from the FAA, which is less than 4% of its $15.9 billion 2012 budget, and it limits the agency to what it spent in 2010. The White House decided to translate this 4% cut that it has the legal discretion to avoid into a 10% cut for air traffic controllers. Though controllers will be furloughed for one of every 10 working days, four of every 10 flights won’t arrive on time. …
The White House claims the sequester applies to the budget category known as “projects, programs and activities” and thus it lacks flexibility. Not so: This is a political pose to make the sequester more disruptive. Legally speaking, the sequester applies at a more general level known as “accounts.” The air traffic account includes 15,000 controllers out of 31,000 employees. The White House could keep the controllers on duty simply by allocating more furlough days to these other non-essential workers. …
For more than a decade the FAA has promised to modernize and make the civil aviation system more efficient and reliable, but the only things it has reliably generated are delays or cost overruns or usually both. …
A more sincere administration might use the sequester as a chance for innovation, improvement, and waste-elimination, but not these guys — the Obama White House is all about purposely making sequestration as painful and visible as possible, lest the ultimately pretty tiny sequester cuts mar their case for an ever-growing big government.