Mar 24 2013

Sequestration Drama Queens

Published by at 2:38 pm under All General Discussions

Well, looks like the Obama administration is try to generate some fuax Sequestration Drama – by claiming a measly $600 million cut from $58 Billion budget (which is a paltry 1% cut, or 1 cent from every dollar) requires the closure of 150 control towers:

Air traffic control towers at nearly 150 airports across the nation are going to sit empty, forcing pilots to figure out safe landing procedures by a combination of the seats of their pants and furiously cracking open fortune cookies. In other words, you’re all going to die.

The FAA claims that it cannot cut $600 million from its $58 billion without impacting air traffic control. Honestly, though, I can’t believe that this is true. It seems more likely to me that the Administration is phasing in cuts that are designed to have the most public impact in order to win a political battle. Take a fine tooth comb to that budget, guys, before you start risking public safety.

As I noted in a previous post, this clear risk to human safety posing as political drama is grounds for criminal charges of negligence and dereliction of duty.

So here is the answer and what the GOP needs to push through Congress this week (and I dare the Dems to fight it).

Make it illegal to pull services, support, etc from mission critical activities as long as there are non-mission critical funds available. This would make it impossible to hold us hostage or threaten us before, say, salaries are cut, or regulations are cut, or new programs on the drawing board are cut, etc.

Make it a felony for anyone to play games like this – and we will see an end to this kind of dumb melodrama! Let’s make political melodrama ILLEGAL!

Let me put this in perspective.  As of 2004 there were 19,820 airports of all types in the USA. The $58 billion budget works out to $2.9 million per airport.  This seems low to me, even on average. Some airports are enormous and tower operations are expensive. Other smaller airports would be much less. So do 150 airport towers (out of 19,820) really produce the needed savings? I doubt it. Here we are not even seeing 1% cut, but a 0.1% in number, and these are the smaller airports!

What about FAA executive pay, bonuses, etc? What about FAA new programs? Why, after years of blowing $1.2 billion on modernization screw ups, is this agency still allowed to spend money without adult supervision?

 The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) program, which started ten years ago at an estimated cost of $2.1 billion, was scheduled to go into full operations last year. However, the modernization effort ran into major software and system difficulties (pdf) as outlined by the Department of Transportation Inspector General Calvin Scovel in late 2010. To address the myriad of problems, the FAA decided by early 2011 to add another US $300 million and three years to the modernization effort. This amount, and schedule, change was at the low end of the range the IG said the effort might take; Scovel estimated it might need three additional years and another $200 million more than what the FAA predicted.

The fact is this is another case of playing fast, lose and risky with public money and human lives.The FAA is in full BS mode:

The Republicans who oversee LaHood’s department accused him of dishonesty after the briefing. “[T]oday’s exaggerations are not backed up by any real financial data,” House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said in a joint statement with Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J. “The agency is well positioned to absorb spending reductions without compromising the safety or efficiency of the National Airspace System,” they added.

There should be consequences for such acts of incompetence and dereliction to the public trust.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Sequestration Drama Queens”

  1. joe six-pack says:

    Well, the idea is not about safety, nor health Care. It is about who gets the money and who does not. Punishment is the order of the day if you do not cooperate. Just like a bureaucrat. Better yet, like a ‘community organizer’. After all, President Obama knows what is best for us, ‘because it is the right thing to do.’. President Obama can run our economy better than we can. And he is proving it right here.

    Benghazi should have been the end of President Obama’s political career. It shows just how far he will go. (actually, he could go further and given the right situation, I believe he easily would)

  2. […] blog of the day is The Strata-Sphere, with a post on Sequestration […]

  3. Phil-351 says:

    There is another angle to this tower closure deal I think Ace hit on. Many of the towers being closed are not staffed by Federal workers, but by private contractors reimbursed by the FAA. This gives them the excuse to cancel all those contracts, then, later on, re-staff the airport with unionized Federal FAA controllers after the heat dies down. 2 birds, one stone.