On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman joined a bipartisan collection of his colleagues in supporting the Dependable Air Service Act. The lawmakers are unhappy with the way the Federal Aviation Administration has been handling the sequester. They want to give the agency more flexibility in reducing its spending by $600 million to avoid flight delays and cancellations.
The suggestion is, the FAA has been making matters worse than they need be, aggravating disruptions in air travel, using passengers to make a political point for the Obama White House. Actually, this is a discussion the country should not be having at all, just as it should not have to fret about closing rest rooms in national parks or denying public housing vouchers to the poor.
The country’s deficit problems are not driven by the FAA, or public housing programs, or by a federal work force that already has shrunk. The real drivers remain the Bush-era tax cuts, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and, for the long term, health-care spending on an aging population. These areas are where the big money is, and where substantial savings must be found.
Unfortunately, too many Republicans balk at the prospect of additional tax increases, and thus refuse to test the president’s intentions on spending reductions. The result is, an unnecessary squabble over the FAA, the air-traffic control system needlessly operating without a full staff. And that hedge-fund billionaire? He or she still is paying taxes at the lower capital gains rate.