By God, Fix The Airport Delays Now! The Heck With Everything Else!

In the news today we find this:

Under growing pressure, the Obama administration signaled Wednesday it might accept legislation eliminating Federal Aviation Administration furloughs blamed for lengthy delays affecting airline passengers, while leaving the rest of $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts in place.

The disclosure came as sentiment grew among Senate Democrats as well as Republicans for legislation to ease the impact of the cuts on the FAA, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood held talks with key senators.

Get that? The story begins, “Under growing pressure…” Under growing pressure from whom? Exactly who is putting such pressure on Congress and the White House that suddenly there are bipartisan efforts to fix a problem that bipartisan efforts—the sequester—caused in the first place?

But that’s not why I bothered to mention this development. This is:

At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney said that if Congress “wants to address specifically the problems caused by the sequester with the FAA, we would be open to looking at that.

“But that would be a Band-Aid measure,” he added. “And it would not deal with the many other negative effects of the sequester, the kids kicked off of Head Start, the seniors who aren’t getting Meals on Wheels, and the up to three-quarter of a million of Americans who will lose their jobs or will not have jobs created for them.”

Now, Jay Carney is right of course. Fixing the problem of flight delays at airports is only a small part of fixing the damage the sequester has done, is doing, to folks around the country. But I find something amazing, something telling, about what Congress and the White House are planning on doing regarding FAA furloughs and flight delays.

Republicans apparently are willing to get together with Democrats to fix a small problem that affects folks who fly—folks who can afford to fly, which generally means more affluent folks and a lot of business people—but they refuse to get together to fix the much larger problem of kids getting booted out of Head Start or older folks getting fewer Meals on Wheels, or the rather large number of Americans who will not have jobs because of the sequester.

That Republicans ignore poor kids and the elderly and the unemployed but are willing to fix a problem that at the most inconveniences folks who do a lot of expensive traveling on airplanes—which means a lot of Republican constituents—tells us everything we need to know about the Republican Party.

And that Democrats are apparently now willing to settle for this kind of “Band-Aid” approach and are not demanding that we also fix the problems the sequester has caused for people who won’t be spending much time waiting a few extra minutes at airports, tells us a lot about the Democratic Party leadership these days.

Sad.

21 Comments

  1. Well, I’m glad you posted this, Duane, but as is often the case I have no great insights here. I did pick someone up from the airport last night. Due in at 10:30. Got in around 11:30. Southwest, no less. They’re usually on time, no matter what. It’s annoying. But the eroding capability of our elected folks on both sides of the aisle to make any wise decisions — ANY — at all — is starting to suck the life outa me. I’m unconvinced there is anyone in the GOP, uncorrupted by idiocy and money from people who know how to exploit idiocy. As well, the Dems seem to consuming mass quantities of buffoonery and cowardice these days — why, I do not know. At the top of that list is the President. I’m calling “bull-shit” on you, Mr. President. You have let us (progressive and average Americans) down. You have. You make me weep.

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    • General,

      You wrote,

      But the eroding capability of our elected folks on both sides of the aisle to make any wise decisions — ANY — at all — is starting to suck the life outa me.

      I must confess I am, in my worse (or, maybe, “better”) moments, starting to feel the same way. I have always been a political junkie, but the kind of politics we are seeing now is so depressing, I can sometimes hardly stand to follow it. There are days when I get very close to quitting this labor of love of writing about our political landscape.

      Duane

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      • Man — don’t quit. You’re the lifeline to sanity and hope for many of us. That sounded dramatic, I know, but we appreciate your good work. In y better moments I believe there could still be a liberal revival in the country — a revival bent on saving us in spite of ourselves. Your postings keep us energized. Thanks.

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        • Amen, Gen.

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        • Generalist and Jim,

          I appreciate what you say, believe me. That, more than anything else, keeps me going, and I mean it when I say that.

          Something else that, at least for now, keeps me going is this: I wrote this particular piece early on April 25, after reading an AP article about the airport delay fix. That was the first I had read anything about it. I was on my walk when I read that AP article and I was so pissed I cut the walk short and came home to bang away on the keyboard. Little did I know that other liberals were doing the same thing and most of the MSNBC shows later in the day and into the evening and weekend went off on it, too. What that shows is that those of us who hold a certain view of government and its ability to do good for society tend to react the same way to such things as happened with that furlough legislation involving airport inconveniences.

          But it also shows that there is hope—as thgeneralist put it—for a liberal revival of sorts. If our side were more energized, if we could get others sympathetic to our views more energized, if we could resist the temptation in ourselves and others to give into cynicism, then we could, maybe, win the present fight, if not win it once and for all.

          There will always be forces among us, reactionary forces, warring against progress, I know that. I don’t expect defeated Republicans to simply fold up and go away. But we will know the revival has come when we move the “center” our way, dragging that other party in our direction. Right now, even though, as I have argued many, many times, that we are a center-left country, the other side is succeeding in moving the center their way. And nothing proves that more than the legislation involving airport delays. The sequester, thanks to Democrats agreeing with Republicans to fix only a tiny part of it that favors the more affluent, is now a fact of life for those without the clout to fight back.

          And the saddest part of all of it, the part that makes one want to toss in the towel, is that even though Republicans have now embraced the draconian cuts in the sequester and sell it as fiscal responsibility (and claiming a political “win”), in the end the things that would truly fix our long-term problems, like putting the brakes on health care costs and fixing our crumbling infrastructure and getting poor children the early education they need to succeed, will mostly go undone. The real crisis for the country awaits us for reasons that Republicans fail to understand.

          The level of frustration when one contemplates that, as well as the increasing possibility that Democrats will lose control of the Senate in 2014, is enough to drive a serious person to drinking. Or at least to stop thinking and writing about politics.

          Sorry about this long response, but once I got going I couldn’t stop. Again, I appreciate the kind and encouraging words. For now, I want to stay in the fight with all of you guys and do my tiny, tiny part to work for a better country. At this point, to leave the field would be to contribute to the other side’s vision of what the country should look like. I guess I’m just not ready to do that right now no matter how depressing this stuff can sometimes be. But I do, I promise you, have my moments of fatigue. However, if those misguided bastards on the other side win in the end, if their vision prevails, I want to at least be able to say I did my small part in trying to stop them.

          Duane

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  2. ansonburlingame

     /  April 25, 2013

    Duane, as a former traveler, business type, I DO have dated perspective, but some current ones as well.

    I justed posted a blog on this same subject, calling it a “stupid mess”. I then took on almost everyone in both creating the mess and not mitigating it before it happened. And I mean everyone, EXCEPT, I did not us the terms Dems or GOP in the entire blog.

    I did say Congress and the White House, but only at the end, after ripping the heads off of everyone else.

    Strange how I view the situation as relatively apolitical and call it primarily a “systems engineering failure” without trying to demean one party or the other in this case. You on the other hand lay this one as well at the feet of only the GOP it seems.

    Hmmm, should I have written, “again”

    Anson

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    • Anson,

      The reason I blame this on the GOP is, by God, it is their fault. There’d be no sequester if Republicans weren’t holding a gun to both Obama’s and the country’s head in 2011. It’s just that simple.

      You might like to engage in the both-sides-are-guilty analysis, but when both sides are not guilty I won’t play with you.

      Duane

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  3. I had the same reaction to this, especially as someone who doesn’t fly. If the golf courses had all been nationalized and they had to lay off caddies, I’m sure Congress would stay in session through their scheduled mini-vacation to deal with that. Food for poor kids? Not our problem, dude.

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  4. Sad to say, but the Democratic Party, especially Harry Reid, are spineless appeasors. Reid accepted a “gentleman’s agreement” from one of the worst members of the Senate, the ungentlemanly Mitch McConnell, and Reid continues to let the minority run over him and the elected majority. Personally, I would favor abolishing the Senate. It is broken and ineffective, and if a Constitutional Amendment is necessary, so be it.

    One thing I have learned as a Democrat is that we are our own worst enemy. The party is not unified (in most instances, that is) and backs away from campaign promises when faced with any type of pressure or criticism. It is difficult for a progressive when those we elect ultimately stab us in the back in favor of “compromise” or “bipartisanship.” When I hear those words from Democratic leaders, I know they are caving in to another issue that will hurt the “average American” in favor of greed. It is time that we Democrats take a hard-line stand for our beliefs and principles and expose the Republican Party for the corporate and lobbyist shill that it is.

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    • Well stated, JD. That’s what I wanted to say.

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    • Jim,

      I share your frustration, but you and I both know that abolishing the Senate, or even changing its disproportionate composition, is impossible. The way our Founding Fathers set up our government frustrates what I believe is the majority will. When Montana gets as much representation in Congress as California, as we have discussed many times before, that is a system designed to frustrate democratic rule.

      And, sadly, there is not a damn thing that we can do about it.

      Duane

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  5. Obama was forced into the sequester because the GOP held the economy hostage. Why did they do that? Because they feared the national debt was going to pass a red line of about 90% of GDP that would send the economy into a non-recoverable tail spin. That fear, it turns out, was founded on erroneous research. Why did Obama agree to a sequester? Because it was seen as an incentive to the bi-partisan “super committee” to agree on sensible budget cuts. That of course didn’t happen, so here we are, hoist on our own petard. Looking back, I think he should have called their bluff and let them shut down the whole government, but who knows? Maybe that would have caused an unrecoverable tail spin.

    The GOP has ridiculed the President for predicting “real pain” from the sequester, but as Duane now points out, they are yelling at the first sign of discomfort that affects their base directly. I’m just waiting for the screams that are surely inevitable when the military industrial complex starts getting their orders cut, earplugs at the ready.

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    • I’m guessing, Jim, that now that we have a template for “fixing” the uncomfortable parts of the sequester (uncomfortable for those with political clout), that those defense cuts will be “fixed” next.

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  6. Issue that affect middle class and above folks are going to always get a lot more attention than for the truly needy. It’s sad but true.

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    • Agreed. But the way things are trending, there may soon be more “truly needy” folks than all the rest put together. Then, things may look a lot different, if someone can organize those folks. We’d do well to remember the state of affairs at the end of the 19th century and throughout the Depression. The agitation and outrage and accompanying political change may, just may, happen again someday.

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  7. ansonburlingame

     /  April 27, 2013

    Bruce,

    The blog and following discussion was focused on air transportation. Very few really poor people use such transportation. But without it, airplanes flying people all over the world today, how do you think that might affect poor people if we throttle back on it, air transportation? Throttle back on it and business suffers and thus……..?

    Well just let business suffer as it is just a bunch of greedy capitalists that deserve to suffer, right? I would not want to be someone making beds in hotel rooms in Hawaii if this situation stays around very long, No more job to make the beds for “rich” people vacationing in Hawaii.

    AB

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    • The story was actually about the folks you are talking about being merely inconvenienced. No one is talking about prohibiting flights to Hawaii or anywhere else, Anson. The point was that the mere inconvenience of an influential group of Americans was enough to move, and move quickly, the wheels of government.

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  8. ansonburlingame

     /  April 30, 2013

    Exactly, Duane, “influential people” forced the FAA to PRIORITIZE how they cut funding, not just cut across the board, “equally”. Controllers are more important than other positions within the FAA and look what happened after “influential people” raised all manner of hell.

    Now who exactly were those “influential people” that forced prioritization of funding, not just MORE funding using borrowed money? It was by and large the MIDDLE CLASS people, so flying to “see Granma” and others on “business”. And you are correct, when the middle class starts getting squeezed, watch out in America.

    So far your side has blamed it all on the “rich” and you call for squeezing THEM more and more. Well keep on doing so and it will be like getting blood our of a turnip, there won’t be much more money to squeeze out of them.

    You know (but will not admit) as well as I do that to actually pay for all the government demanded the middle class will have to step up to the plate in the coming years. It is already happening as taxes are now starting to “move down” into the middle class for more money. Not a lot, yet, but just wait to keep all sorts of things “afloat”.

    To me that is the long term defect in Keynesian economics, something Keynes NEVER addressed. Where do you find the money in a democracy to keep “priming the economic pump” with government spending in excess of production for half a century and counting. Remember Keynes suggested how to get out of a huge depression. As far as I know he NEVER proposed such excess spending as a matter of routine for decades upon decades.

    Yet we the people have demanded just that, excess spending, spending more money than we produce and democratic government has deliveried with now huge and unsustainable debt, accumulated over half a century, and at a rate 3 times faster than real economic growth over the same period of time, 50 plus years.

    Anson

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  9. angelfire

     /  April 30, 2013

    I thought all those maggots on Talk Radio said we wouldn’t notice any cuts? Tonight on the news (4/30/13) Monett is hollarin’ because of sequester $ cuts…..Ft. Leonard Wood is hollarin’ because they’re cutting the military by 80,000 troops….hello…this is good news. One, the troops come home and Two we don’t gotta pay ’em no more. They can get jobs like mine. They should be glad….right? No they’re not. They want that tax dollars rolling in and by God they’re mad!!!

    Totally insane.

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