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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We Really Have Elected Idiots To Congress!!

This short piece from the New York Times spells out the mathematical illiteracy of the people we have elected to Congress.  It truly is difficult to believe.

This Is Called ‘Small’ Government

What has happened to the Federal Aviation Administration in the last few days should remind everyone of the costs of the Republicans’ obstructionism and their slash-and-burn budget games.
Taxes on airline tickets expired on Friday when the F.A.A. lost its operating authority, including the authority to collect taxes. Passengers are rightly furious at the nation’s airlines, many of which are pocketing the difference. But the masterminds of this fiasco are the House Republicans who let this happen.
The F.A.A. has also had to furlough some 4,000 workers. Needed airport construction projects — to maintain runways, build new traffic control towers and upgrade other facilities — have been halted across the country. The only good news is that the air traffic control system is still working because traffic controllers are paid from the Aviation Trust Fund, which still has a positive balance.
All of this happened after House Republicans inserted a new provision into a routine bill to temporarily extend the F.A.A.’s operational authority. The provision would end $16.5 million in federal subsidies to 13 airports in rural communities. The bill passed the House. But Senate Democrats balked, arguing that the right place for changing policy is in the regular F.A.A. reauthorization bill — noting that the temporary extension has passed 20 times since 2007 without any additional provisions.
“If we can’t put an end to these extravagant subsidies, then we will never be able to rein in spending where really hard decisions are necessary,” said Tom Petri, the chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, upon submitting the bill. Talk about pound foolish. When the F.A.A. lost operational authority, it lost its ability to collect $200 million in taxes a week. These taxes would have paid for the airport subsidies in about 14 hours. There is more going on here. As we have seen in many Republican-led states, an attack on “excessive” government spending is also often a bid to break labor unions.
Last year, the National Mediation Board changed a rule to make it easier for airline and railroad workers to unionize. Until then, workers who did not vote in union representation elections were counted as “no” votes; after the change, they are counted as abstentions. Pushed by the airline lobby, House Republicans passed a long-term F.A.A. reauthorization in April that would have undone the rule change. The Senate’s reauthorization bill, passed in February, maintained the rule.
Earlier this month, John Mica, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told an aviation conference that adding the airport subsidy provision to the temporary bill to keep the F.A.A. running is “just a tool” to force the Senate to give in on the union issue.
Next time voters hear Republicans talking about taking a principled stand against government spending, they should keep this sorry and cynical tale in mind.


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