Obama Admin Threatens To Cut Air Traffic Controllers

Ray LaHood

The Obama administration’s sequestration histrionics continue, with DOT secretary Ray LaHood claiming that if the sequestration his boss proposed and signed into law takes place air traffic controllers will be cut and air travel will become even worse than it is today. Some might say LaHood will sabotage air travel to help his boss make a point. LaHood has been trotted out because he calls himself a Republican.

“The largest number of employees at DOT is at FAA, of which the largest number are FAA controllers,” LaHood said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“We’re going to try and cut as much as we possibly can out of contracts and other things that we do,” he continued. “But in the end, there has to be some kind of furlough of air traffic controllers, and that will also begin to curtail or eliminate the opportunity for them to guide planes in and out of airports.”

LaHood, who was a Republican congressman from Illinois before joining Obama’s administration, is the last member of the GOP in the Obama Cabinet. Asked why he was brought to the White House briefing room Friday to address reporters, he said: “I would describe my presence here with one word: Republican.”

He’s full of crap. Check out the DOT’s 2012 budget highlights. The FAA is at the bottom of the list. All of the spending is on things like rail and “investments” into infrastructure. Then again, it’s hard to tell what budget any agencies are using these days since the Senate has refused to pass a budget for years. They’ve been operating under continuing resolutions that keep the government funded at the inflated post-Porkulus levels. Actually, it’s even worse than that, because last September the CR increased overall spending, including transportation spending.  Here’s what the White House emphasizes in its DOT budget wish list.

Funding Highlights:
• Invests a total of $74 billion in discretionary and mandatory budgetary resources for the
Department of Transportation, an increase of 2 percent, or $1.4 billion, above the 2012
enacted level. This includes job-creating infrastructure investments as well as savings from
reductions to grant programs for larger airports.
• Jump starts job creation in 2012 with $50 billion in immediate investments to support critical
infrastructure projects, improving America’s roads, bridges, transit systems, border crossings,
railways, and runways.
• Proposes an urgently needed six-year, $476 billion surface reauthorization plan to modernize
the country’s transportation infrastructure, and pave the way for long-term economic growth.
• Pays for these investments with the “peace dividend” from ramping down overseas military
operations. Because rebuilding the Nation’s transportation infrastructure is an immediate
need, the Budget uses near-term savings from reduced overseas operations to support
increased investments in the reauthorization proposal.
• Provides $2.7 billion in 2013 and $47 billion over six years to develop high-speed passenger
rail corridors and improve intercity passenger rail service to significantly enhance the national
rail network.
• Supports a more robust, rigorous, and data-driven pipeline safety program to ensure the
highest level of safety for America’s pipeline system.
• Invests over $1 billion for 2013 in the Next Generation Air Transportation System, a
revolutionary modernization of our aviation system.
• Initiates Transportation Leadership Awards, which will encourage innovation by allowing
States to compete for grants to pursue critical transportation policy reforms.
• Reduces funding for airport grants by over $900 million, focusing Federal support on smaller
airports, while giving larger airports additional flexibility to raise their own resources.

Hmm, there is not much there regarding air travel, besides reducing funding. I’m sure they could shave a little bit off of all of those big billion dollar rail projects and not have to furlough a single air traffic controller.