Opinion: Morning Examiner

Morning Examiner: Democrats looking to retreat on FAA furloughs

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Transportation,Conn Carroll,Morning Examiner,Democratic Party,Fiscal Policy

Senate Democrats are beginning to realize that President Obama has dealt them a losing hand on Federal Aviation Administration furloughs linked to sequestration, and they are now trying to minimize the damage.

The entire purpose of sequestration was to inflict pain on the American people until they forced Republicans to raise taxes. But the reality is that the federal government is perfectly capable of reducing the growth of its spending, while still performing what few vital functions it actually performs. And the FAA is a great example.

President Obama requested $15.172 billion to run the FAA for 2013 and Congress initially gave him $16.668 billion. The sequester has since cut the FAA’s budget by $669 million, leaving the agency with $15.999 billion. That’s right: Even after the sequester “cuts,” the FAA actually has more money to spend this year than Obama originally asked for to begin with.

So why is the FAA furloughing air traffic controllers at the nation’s busiest airports and causing flight delays? Because Obama is intent on inflicting as much pain on the American people as possible. The FAA is taking the most rigid interpretation of the sequester cuts as possible, distributing controller furloughs evenly among all airports (except those serving D.C. apparently) regardless of how busy they are.

And remember this is the same administration that is currently in federal court defending their decision not to enforce our nation’s immigration laws. If Obama really wanted to prevent these flight delays, he could. Just look at the bureaucrats charged with implementing Obamacare. Somehow Obama found the money to make sure none of them had to take any furloughs.

“It is better to do a big deal,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D- Minn., told The Wall Street Journal yesterday. “But as we work toward it, we have to admit that some things are very problematic.” Klobuchar introduced a bipartisan bill with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., that would explicitly give the FAA more flexibility on where to cut so that the furloughs at the busiest airports would end. This would be a near-total capitulation by Democrats.

Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is pushing a separate bill that would use fantasy money from future Iraq and Afghanistan war spending to undo the FAA’s sequester cuts. A third bill, sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., would raise taxes on corporate jets for the same purpose.

No action on any of these bills is likely before the Senate takes a spring break next week. But when they get back, look for some embarrassing votes in the Senate.

 

From The Washington Examiner
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In Other News
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Bloomberg News, Obama Deportation Progam Likely to Be Blocked, Judge Says: A court challenge by federal immigration agents seeking to block President Barack Obama’s deferred-deportation initiative will probably succeed, a federal judge said.
The Hill, No furloughs for ObamaCare officials: The office implementing most of President Obama’s healthcare law is not furloughing its workers as a result of sequestration, its director said Wednesday.
The Baltimore Sun, CareFirst proposes 25 percent rate increase: Blaming the cost to implement health care reform, the state’s largest health insurer has proposed eye-popping rate increases to state regulators for individuals and small businesses.
The Los Angeles Times, Republican effort to rebrand the party takes a hit: Conservative lawmakers reject a GOP bill to help Americans with preexisting health conditions. The bill’s failure shows the difficulty party leaders have in coralling a disparate and fractious majority.
The Wall Street Journal, Senators Seek Way to Ease FAA Cuts: Complaints about air-travel delays in recent days have prompted Democrats in Congress to reconsider their strategy for dealing with across-the-board spending cuts.

Lefty Playbook
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Brad Plumer defends Obama’s taxpayer investment in Fisker automotive.

Righty Playbook
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Erick Erickson on Congressional efforts to exempt Congress from Obamacare.
Walter Russell Mead on Bush’s legacy.
David Freddoso on Bloomberg’s efforts to run pro-gun Democrats out of the party.

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