Not The Way To
Operate On “Final Approach”
By Bill Goldston
August 7, 2011 - On Friday the Senate reached a
breakthrough on FAA extension, this means that tens of
thousands of workers can go back to their jobs. “I am
thrilled this morning that the Senate has approved an
FAA bill. It is a tremendous victory for American
workers everywhere” said U.S. Secretary of
Transportation Ray LaHood.
“I'm thrilled for our dedicated FAA employees who will
be able to go back to work on Monday.
And I'm thrilled for the tens of thousands of
hardworking workers who can go back to airport
construction sites around the country. As a matter of
fairness, we will also do everything we can to get
Congress to provide our furloughed employees with the
back pay they deserve”.
The FAA Shutdown Points to Bigger Problem, while the nation and the news media had largely focused on the debt talks the GOP has demonstrated how far they were willing to go if their demands were not met, they’ve were willing to crash the Federal Aviation Administration.
authority to collect revenue from airport taxes expired at
midnight on July 22, the FAA laid off more than 3,500 federal
workers, although Air traffic controllers remained on the job,
but the agency had stopped work on vital airport construction
projects, including installation of new runway lights and
construction of new control towers. More than 86,000
construction workers had been going without paychecks, but
taxpayers did not save any money. The costs of delays –
cancelled contracts, equipment rental -- added to the final bill
(and to the federal deficit).
this happen? Republicans object to a rule issued earlier this
year by the National Mediation Board (NMB), which supervises
labor relations in the transportation sector. Workers at
railways and airlines can now vote to unionize by a simple
majority; previously, any worker who didn’t return a ballot was
counted as a “no” vote. House Transportation Chair John Mica
(R-FL) and GOP members of his committee – prodded by Delta
Airlines -- are insisting the rule be overturned, or they won’t
re-authorize funding for the FAA.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who heads the Transportation Committee in the Senate, didn’t agree. Neither did President Obama, who has stated he will veto any bill that overrules the NMB’s even-handed reforms. If Mica and House Republicans couldn’t have their way, they would not appropriate a penny for the FAA. Even if it meant taking revenue away from hundreds of construction companies, throwing thousands of people out of work, and stalling vital efforts to modernize our airports.
It’s the same flight path Republicans in Congress took to raise the
nation’s debt ceiling – a routine measure that passed 18 times during
the Reagan Administration and seven times during the Clinton
Administration. It’s hard to remember now, but there was a time—dating
back to Alexander Hamilton-- when honoring our nation’s debts was viewed
as a solemn responsibility, regardless of party or partisan advantage.
There was also a time – in 2001 – when the U.S. government had a $128
billion budget surplus. Since then, the Republican program of
irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans has drained the U.S.
Treasury. Boehner, Cantor and McConnell are insisting on more of the
drastic cuts to childhood nutrition programs, education, Social Security
and Medicare. They refuse to raise a penny more in revenue from taxes on
closing loopholes for oil companies, or by letting the Bush tax cuts for
millionaires expire – they refuse to even tax hedge fund managers at the
same rate as other millionaires.
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