Feigning calamity and holding Americans hostage on the tarmac, Obama and the Democrats have now retreated from their political stunt after the public caught on to their act. Their vote on the “FAA fix,” is an admission by the Democrats that smarter sequester cuts are possible, just as the Republicans have been saying. The questions is – are they willing to put political gamesmanship aside and make smarter cuts on other important issues?
In The News:
Chicago Tribune Editorial Board: The stunt pilots misread their gauges White House scrambles for damage control
Somewhere between the Oval Office and a snarled airport near you, the stunt pilots in the Obama administration made a terrible miscalculation. Most citizens are able to read. They're seeing numerous articles in the public prints explaining how the Federal Aviation Administration's layoff scheme created a crisis that simply doesn't have to be. Bloomberg News weighed in with a detailed analysis explaining that the FAA "has more than enough air traffic controllers to manage furloughs without flight delays. ... The FAA, with the consent of the controllers' union, could keep sequestration from affecting flights by targeting furloughs at airports with excess numbers of controllers, but the agency has declined to pursue that strategy." … And now the scramble for damage control is on, as evidenced by this headline posted Thursday by The Washington Post: "Pressured by Senate Democrats, White House says it's open to fix on FAA furloughs." Got that? Democratic senators aren't rallying 'round. No, they want the Democratic president to stop inconveniencing their constituents.
Wall Street Journal: Besides the FAA, Furlough Impacts Are Mostly Muted
President Barack Obama warned in March that across-the-board budget cuts would lead to significant pay cuts and furloughs for "hundreds of thousands of Americans who serve their country." The layoffs finally kicked in this week—most notably at the Federal Aviation Administration, where furloughs of air-traffic controllers led to flight delays—yet many agencies have found ways to make the required savings and have spared government worker paychecks.
Agency chiefs, under pressure from the public and federal-employee unions, have cut travel and contractor spending, trimmed office hours and delayed some furloughs, achieving dramatic reductions from some of the dire predictions officials made earlier this year. … Many of these developments have been overshadowed this week by airport delays, which have caused a public outcry and have prompted congressional Democrats to rethink their strategy for dealing with the $85 billion in across-the-board cuts, known as the sequester…The broader development is ticklish for the White House and lawmakers, many of whom agree the sequester is a poorly designed instrument to cut the budget. If Washington can find ways to live within those limits, however, the pressure to restore funding could diminish.
Politico: Democrats blink first on aviation cuts
The White House and Democrats in Congress argued for months against a piecemeal fix to the budget problems caused by the sequester. But on Thursday, Democrats caved in and agreed to allow the Federal Aviation Administration to keep air traffic control towers running at close to full capacity. All it took was a few thousand people standing in line at the airport. The Senate approved a deal late Thursday to ease the FAA's burden following negotiations among both parties and the White House. The House is expected to take up the bill Friday, just before the congressional weeklong recess, so President Barack Obama can sign it.
Washington Post: Senate votes to end furloughs of air traffic controllers
The Senate took the first step toward circumventing sequestration Thursday night with a bipartisan vote that would put furloughed air traffic controllers back on the job. The House is expected to take up the measure as soon as Friday, and the White House has promised to consider any bill which it receives. … The Obama administration and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) have seen the airline delays as a way to highlight the effects of sequestration…Their goal has been to pressure Congress to end sequestration. Even some Democrats pressing for an FAA fix acknowledged that it would undercut the party’s larger goal of replacing the sequester entirely.
Budget and Spending Sequestration