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Playing with lives: Sequester games in the air

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

“Believe you've been a victim of prohibited practices by air carriers or travel agents?” asks the U.S. Department of Transportation website. “We may be able to help you. File a complaint now.”

Pity that the site doesn't include a complaint prompt for a nation being victimized by the DOT in the name of promoting President Obama's push for higher taxes.

The department's Federal Aviation Administration has begun furloughing air traffic controllers to save $600 million. It's all part of the “sequester” — mandatory budget cuts pushed by the president (and adopted by Congress) as a cudgel to force taxing and spending reforms.

And this week, with fewer controllers on the job, fliers began seeing hours-long delays.

Never mind that the DOT and FAA could have cut in other areas. Think of the slickly produced “Women in Transportation” video series. Think of 18,000 employees over the last eight years who've traveled to “conferences,” among others.

DOT boss Ray LaHood actually smirked — smirked! — on camera at the premise that the cuts are political. If the public doesn't want the cuts, they should lobby Congress to raise their taxes, he effectively retorted.

But Mr. LaHood's lie is exposed by Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Turns out the FAA has $2.7 billion lying around in nonoperations personnel accounts; cutting that spending could have easily offset the need to furlough controllers.

The Obama administration has chosen not merely to inconvenience the flying public but to endanger it. That's not merely political. It could end up being criminal.

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