Airline ticket tax holiday short-lived, but long-term FAA funding far more critical

The partial shutdown of the FAA ended yesterday, but it’s only a temporary reprieve and I still hold firm in my disgust of politicians and their ability to hold citizens hostage from their employment. Sixteen days went by where airlines didn’t have to collect federal taxes that fund not only the salaries of Federal Aviation Administration employees, but also some 70,000 more workers contracted to work on the various projects on the table. Constant pressure by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (I’m a big fan now), President Obama and just about anyone else with a bit of rationality in them finally got two senators to approve yet another extension (the 21st) for an agency that hasn’t had a long-term funding plan in more than five years.

Before I go on, let me be clear in that my knowledge of what caused the stalemate comes only from reading about a dozen articles. I didn’t even know we’ve been funding the FAA all this time through temporary extensions, but what I learned pissed me off enough for my original rant about two weeks ago. One reader commented that my post was the same as “false equivalency arguments that do not actually consider WHO is causing the debacle…” I was hoping that person would come back to shed some light on who “WHO” is (s(he) didn’t), but at the minimum I agree to not know the full extent of each chambers’ arguments yea and nay.

I’ll throw the government a bone here, though, and say it was great that only two senators had to be present to approve the extension via ‘unanimous consent’ when it seems the rest had already left on their summer vacations after approving the new debt ceiling. Still, though, it’s temporary and only takes the funding through September 16, 2011. Rehashing my argument, isn’t it time for more significant long-term funding legislation? There really has to be some type of statute of limitations on this ridiculousness.

I like to think of myself as a perfectionist (it doesn’t exist), but as such I bury myself in the details of what I do. I’ve made mistakes and have gotten so immersed in the details that I’ve reacted to calling out the bullshit when deep in the process without taking into consideration the “big picture.” The projects I was working on in those instances is nowhere near the scale the impact of the FAA funding fiasco. Congress should be ashamed for their inability to come to some resolution prior to the break, and overall for lack of long-term funding. As it is they have less than two weeks to nail a new resolution out when they reconvene.

The estimate I’ve read most is that the government lost out on $30 million per day while no resolution was met, effectively losing $480 million in revenue for the 16 days. Totally ridiculous. Again, I’m just an armchair quarterback here not knowing the full scope of the implications, but my wish is that the big picture is indeed recognized and this event will make our elected leaders consider a rational, realistic and semi-permanent funding resolution to a critically important agency deserving of more investment. No, I don’t want my airline ticket taxes to increase further, but don’t you think they could be spent in ways more meaningful to evolving our aging ATC systems and developing effective security procedures?

Comments

  1. Maybe the fact that life went on without FAA funding tells you something about its overall use.

    PS love the blog. Stay away from Politics and do what you do best!

    • Well, life was put on hold for 74,000+ people, so they might beg to differ. Thanks for the remark on my blog, and yeah… politics gives me a headache, so you won’t see too many more of these posts in the future. 😉

  2. The best irony of this was how DELTA CEO and others just lambasted the government over the high tax’s on air travel and then bumped up the price (all of them did this byw) to keep the tax money for those days. Low class. Very low class! 🙁

    • I can’t blame the airlines for taking advantage of the government’s failure, though. I understand your point, but the airlines are more concerned to maximize returns.

  3. Nathan has a point about life going on without FAA funding, but I agree with your point Darren: we need to invest in the infrastructure of tomorrow rather than continuing to kick the can down the road…a much wider problem in American politics.

    You keep up the political posts. I like them!

    • Thanks, Matthew, but barring another epic failure, I’ll leave the majority of political posts to everyone else (yours are fantastic given your background & first-hand experiences). 😉

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