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October 20, 2014

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Government is slowing air traffic

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The government will never cease to amaze me. The Federal Aviation Administration is involved in an air traffic slowdown. This slowdown is blatant, and the media is not doing a thing to point out that the FAA continues to employ contractors, have meetings, travel, etc.

As a retired air traffic controller of more than 30 years, I went through the sick-out of 1971, the strike of 1982, and years of accusations and threats from the FAA regarding controllers slowing down air traffic. Now we find that the government is slowing down air traffic.

Should Congress take the same position with the FAA that the FAA took with the controllers in the past, which was any attempt to slow down air traffic can result in termination? I don’t know what to call the position of the government in this matter. I do know that I am appalled at the intentional damage to the economy and the intentional inconvenience to the flying public being caused by this administration.

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  1. Sequestration! Don't you just hate it when a bad plan comes together.

  2. The FAA budget is 70 percent salaries and administration. 30 percent discretionary. The Sequester cuts 4 percent of the budget. Why not cut that 4 percent in the 30 percent of discretionary funding first. Then go to salaries with furloughs if the need be. That's how it has always been done in the past. Not with this President. Politics come first. Inflict the most pain on the people, so they will blame the republicans. It won't work. Americans are too smart.
    Carmine D

  3. "Sequestration! Don't you just hate it when a bad plan comes together."

    Jim:

    Who crafted that plan? President Obama and Jack Lew in August 2011.

    Carmine D

  4. As usual facts and reality mean nothing to the arse backwards Obama bashers.

    174 Republicans in the House and 28 Republicans in the Senate voted for sequestration. If it weren't for those radicals on the far right it was possible that John Boehner and the president could have reached an agreement. But noooooo! The meat heads screwed negotiations and now try to blame Obama for their own votes. Boehner was screwed by his own and is now fearful of losing his seat over any negotiations, so he refused to do so in the future.

    As noted in the past, reality and facts mean diddly to you mentally unraveled clowns.

  5. CarmineD

    Sequester was almost unanimously supported by the Republicans in the House of Representatives too. It was conceived as a plan so onerous that the Super Committee it created would have to come up with a bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction. But, Republicans on the Super Committee absolutely refused to consider any revenue increases as part of the bipartisan discussions and it went nowhere.

    Somehow you keep neglecting that part of your story!

  6. The only additions that need to be made to the comments are that, if 174 Republican Congress members and 28 Republican Senators were the only ones voting for the bill that gave us sequestration, we would not have it. So, apparently a fair number of Democrats voted for it as well. (At least 23 non-Republicans in the Senate, if my math is right.) And, the Republicans did offer revenue in the Super Committee. The funny thing that I saw is that the Republicans offered more revenue toward the beginning of the process than the Democrats wanted at the end of the process. It was pure politics and if the Democrats had been willing to accept a reasonable offer early, this would not have happened. But then as they ratcheted down their request, the Republicans pulled back their offer. It was pretty stupid stuff and we get sequestration because of it.

    And it was also laughable that Harry Reid said that we may lose a cure for AIDS, Parkinson's Disease or cancer because of the sequestration. Perhaps, but given that reports show that we could cuts over $200B a year in spending without cutting services and Harry never even tries to do that, he has no leg to stand on. They could replace the money that sequester needs without hurting services, but they want more money and doing that would prove that they could get by on less. None of them want that. Senator Reid was willing to recount the war savings, which is already counted as savings at least once, to try to put the sequester to bed. More games from both sides as we do things like force the military to keep equipment they wish to retire, which we can find more money to fund.

    But lets just sit around and blame the other guys for the problem.

  7. Obama did not craft the plan for sequestration, he only suggested it. It was Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) that was stupid enough to pass it. It was Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) that decided that sequestration was better than sitting down together and agreeing to specific spending cuts. Congress set the rules and Congress has to live with the consequences.

  8. What never ceases to amaze me is the whining from the Lovelaces of the world.
    Endless repetition of the TeaParty austerity line then shock, shock I say, when the butcher's bill comes due. Perhaps, instead of modifications to air traffic control, we should not just reduce hours in the National Parks, but close a few. How about Zion, Capitol Reef, Cedars NM, all the other Southern Utah sites. You folks are quite conservative Teeps, wanna shrink government, then stick it to your own sacred cow first. Sheesh, the nerve of some people!

  9. Again people like rusty57 are cluless. They have no idea of what is going on or what reality is.

    "The mechanism of sequestration was originally conceived of more than a quarter century ago. It was designed to force Congress to deal with rising federal debt and budget deficits and, should that fail, to automatically cut funding to government agencies and programs. The sequester made its legislative debut in the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, known as Gramm-Rudman-Hollings (GRH), after the three senators who authored the legislation. Until this year, the only significant implementation of a sequester in the law's history was the year after its enactment, in 1986."

    Gramm may seem a familiar name, the same person who had the Glass Steagall Act repealed allowing banks to screw us all. Quoting a poster (can't remember who) "American capitalism is defined as privatize profits but socialize loses."

  10. CarmineD (Carmine DiFazio) comments, at 5:09 a.m.: "The FAA budget is 70 percent salaries and administration. 30 percent discretionary. The Sequester cuts 4 percent of the budget. Why not cut that 4 percent in the 30 percent of discretionary funding first."

    Carmine, and other commentators here, fail to remember that the sequester is "across the board!" There is NO provision to move funds from one account or project to another. NONE! FAA isn't actually getting more funds. The bill Congress passed, and the President will undoubtedly sign, simply allows the FAA to temporarily move funds from one place to another. ANY such request takes formal legislation: introduced and passed by one house, sent to the other house and, if passed there, sent to the President for signature. Congress certainly out-did itself in generating chaos with this one.

  11. Ooooooh , here's an idea , only fly if you have to. For trips under 500 miles drive , if people cut way back on flying the airlines will cry for a bailout and then the funding will return.

  12. "It was conceived as a plan so onerous..."

    Conceived by President Obama and his now Secretary of State Jack Lew in August 2011. Put the blame with whom it belongs.

    Carmine D

  13. "There is NO provision to move funds from one account or project to another."

    Wrong. FAA managers have budget flexibility already to administratively oversee their budgets. Agency budgets are at the category level. Categories include accounts and projects. Agency heads can move monies between accounts and projects WITHIN categories. Can't move category budgets from one to the other without OMB approval first. Which for the most part is given if asked and justified. The sequester dictates an automatic cut of 4 percent. Agencies and Agency heads have discretion where and how to cut.

    Carmine D

  14. "Carmine D

    The Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 is the reason for the across the board cuts.

    Under this law, the executive branch cannot single out a particular area of an agency to cut."

    Very familiar with it. It was the basis for the Sequestration under Gramm-Rudman-Hollings used in 1986 by President Reagan. So successfully, it was done again in 1987.

    Carmine D

  15. "The government will never cease to amaze me. The Federal Aviation Administration is involved in an air traffic slowdown. This slowdown is blatant, and the media is not doing a thing to point out that the FAA continues to employ contractors, have meetings, travel, etc.
    As a retired air traffic controller of more than 30 years, I went through the sick-out of 1971, the strike of 1982, and years of accusations and threats from the FAA regarding controllers slowing down air traffic. Now we find that the government is slowing down air traffic.
    Should Congress take the same position with the FAA that the FAA took with the controllers in the past, which was any attempt to slow down air traffic can result in termination? I don't know what to call the position of the government in this matter. I do know that I am appalled at the intentional damage to the economy and the intentional inconvenience to the flying public being caused by these Republicans.

    There, I fixed the uninformed part of the letter.

  16. CarmineD (Carmine DiFazio) argues at 4:32 a.m.: "FAA managers have budget flexibility already to administratively oversee their budgets." Under normal circumstances I'd agree. Normal" rules do not apply to the sequester. If Carmine knows that Agency heads can bypass the provisions of the sequester in this manner, he should provide a link to his proof.

  17. Robert:

    Still wrong.

    I suggest you take your own advice here: If you have a link/source that says the FAA, or any Federal Agency budget, is done at the program and activity [account] level, AS YOU POSTED, and not at the category level, as I said, then you provide it.

    I've done enough Federal budgets over the years to know. Have you?

    I also know, intuitively, that a 4 percent overall budget reduction doesn't equate to a 10 percent furlough in air traffic controllers, 40 percent rate of flight delays with 6700 flight delays in total.

    Carmine D

  18. If the $253 UNOBLIGATED FAA funds were not available in the same category as the salaries and administration of FAA air traffic controllers, and likely they're not, then the FAA Agency head could have went to OMB for approval to use them to preempt furloughs. With sequester on March 1, this request should have went to OMB on March 2. OMB would have approved. It generally does when Agencies make these budget requests. It's more a heads up than an approval. So OMB and Agencies' budget records are reconciled. That wasn't done. So Congress did it for the FAA.

    Carmine D

  19. AND the OMB turnaround time for these requests is quick. The Agency's budget examiner/contact person at OMB calls with the approval in a matter of hours and the written approval follows.

    Carmine D

  20. CarmineD: You state: "If you have a link/source that says the FAA, or any Federal Agency budget, is done at the program and activity [account] level, AS YOU POSTED, and not at the category level, as I said, then you provide it." Done.

    http://bipartisanpolicy.org/sites/defaul...

    The specific analysis says "For non-exempt programs, the calculated percentage reductions in spending must be applied equally to every 'program, project and activity' (PPA) within a budget account." It also notes that, in many agencies, specific PPAs are poorly defined. Please list your source(s) allowing exceptions to this analysis.

    Plus, of course, there were a variety of news reports dating to the initial enactment of the sequester.

    You state: "The sequester dictates an automatic cut of 4 percent." True. But VERY misleading. That's 4% of the ANNUAL amount. But that 4% must be fully recovered from only the final 6 MONTHS of operations. "Intuitively" that's the equivalent to an 8% cut over those six months...assuming that the only 50% of the annual funds were actually spent in the first 6 months. Of course, "intuitively" if the FAA spent over half its budget in the first 6 months, then the rate of cut now would have to be higher.

    Finally, there's your non-sequitor riposte: "I've done enough Federal budgets over the years to know. Have you?" Quite enough, thank you. From being a gofer gathering data, through presenting to top management, to participation in a variety of defense sessions.

  21. "It also notes that, in many agencies, specific PPAs are poorly defined."

    What this means is that many program and activity accounts can fit into more than ONE BUDGET CATEGORY. Federal budgeting is done at the CATEGORY level. PPA's roll up into budget categories. Feds don't care what PPA's are cut, as long as the Agency cuts the BUDGET CATEGORY by 4 percent, not the PPA.

    Your wrong on the 6 months. March 1 through September 30, 2013 is 7 months.

    Carmine D

  22. Obviously if you don't know when the Federal budget fiscal year begins and ends, you haven't done Federal budgeting. Or if you did, you didn't see/comprehend the big picture. That's what happens when your background is "being a gofer gathering data, through presenting to top management, to participation in a variety of defense sessions." I WAS the Agency budget management.

    Carmine D

  23. PS: If I'm not mistaken Robert, the sequester if it went into effect on January 1 was set for an automatic reduction of about 2 percent across the board for agencies' budgets. That amount was ramped up to 3-4 percent on March 1 to allow for the deferred implementation. Check it for yourself. But....I believe the 4 percent for FAA already factors in the time delay. No need to ramp up to 8 percent. ;-)

    Carmine D

  24. "OMB issued a preliminary list of exempt programs and a rough estimate of the size of the cut to each "category of spending" in its September 14 report, but those cuts would now be smaller [House Budget Committee Democratic Staff January 17, 2013 Page 6] because the 2013 sequester has been reduced by $24 billion (22 percent). OMB will need to recalculate the precise cut to each program using actual levels enacted for 2013 in the continuing resolution, and an updated estimate of the level of unobligated balances in defense accounts."

    Robert:

    The Federal government was on a CR [Continuing Resolution] from October 1, 2012-March 23, 2013. That means the government was only authorized to spend at fiscal year 2012 levels for almost 5 months of fiscal year 2013. That reduces [not increases] the "hit" in the sequester for the 2013 budget year. [Note the excerpt I provided.] Thus you have to factor into the 7 months of 2013 effective sequester WITH the 5 months of lower CR [read previous fiscal year] spending. They offset each other.

    Carmine D