Share This Page

Playing with lives: Sequester games in the air

| 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.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.