The politics behind funding the FAA

Politicians disgust me. The idealism of the democratic process our nation runs on is a lovely principle in theory, but in practice it’s just ridiculous. I used to expend energy on being an active engaging citizen, but I gave up that position years ago. Yes I still vote, but I absolutely cannot be entertained into any conversation relating to politics. Most of it is bullshit and when it’s not I still find too many people revert to pointing out the “failures” of an opposing stance. I find it pretty incredible that anyone wants the job of President of the United States and actually feel horribly for whoever has that post because it seems all Congress is good for is to make their life as intolerable as possible. Political persuasion aside, our government sucks. It’s all about posturing for the best position, making the “other side” pay and then going on a publicity tour.

Case in point is our current partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A shutdown that’s costing them $30 million a day in lost revenue due to the ticket tax “holiday” and upwards of 4,000 FAA employees out of work not to mention other construction workers and employees whose companies that supply the resources for the current work scheduled and underway for the much needed improvements at airports and facilities. Totally ridiculous. While I was initially happy for the temporary price reduction in airfares (most airlines have now raised their fares), it comes at a cost exponentially more impactful to those it hurts.

Long-term funding for the FAA ceased in 2007 and our government kept it going until last Friday at midnight through a series of 20 short-term extension bills. Shouldn’t there be a statute of limitations for these? Does anyone else think it’s ridiculous this has gone on? So, the last extension failed because of politics. The House and Senate are at battles with each other and apparently no one wants to come back to the table to come up with a solution. Some resolutions are seeking increased security fees that include additional areas of angst for Democrats and Republicans. Republicans are demanding their bill pass that will eliminate a $16.5 million air service subsidies for 13 rural airports while Democrats hate the Republican version that will be unkind to labor unions in that if members don’t vote in elections, it would be equivalent to a “no” vote. And so… since no one is returning to the tables, the FAA remains largely unfunded. Totally unacceptable.

The U.S.A. is in a crisis. Our budget is screwed and our leaders are duking it out to see who will be the first to flinch and give a reprieve. As apolitical as I am, I abhor the situation we’re in. I’m not going to cheerleader anything, but can we please bring back some rationality into the picture and somehow re-fund the FAA? Although it’s one of the most antiquated systems in the world, we need to at the minimum get people working again to improve those locations slated for updates and bring us back into some semblance of a operational entity. Anyone… anyone?

Now, regarding the airlines making additional revenue by raising their fares to compensate for the lack of taxation. I completely agree that they should do it because they are otherwise the highest taxed industry out there and subject to extraordinarily intense pressures as a “deregulated” enterprise. Yes, most airlines are profiting this year, but I don’t blame them for taking advantage of our government’s incompetence. How long will this last? No one seems to know, but I hope it gets fixed soon.

I suppose it’s easy for me to sit here and criticize the government as an armchair quarterback, but I cannot be alone. My apologies to my readers as this has been an unusually soap boxy diatribe not in my regular script for Frequently Flying. The sun will set today and tomorrow will bring back regularly scheduled posts here for your reading enjoyment. I promise!


  1. I agree with you on all points except the last point that airlines should raise the prices to pre tax levels. Regardless of how much they are taxed, they still make billions of dollars over bag check fees and other nonsense fees. Had the airlines just left the fares alone and advertised a tax holiday, they would have made much more money. Once i heard about the tax holiday, i bought a ticket.

    • Your point is very well taken, but I’ll still hold firm in my position. Maybe this will get Congress to take action a bit quicker??

      • I agree with you Darren. While not liking the increased taxes, I cannot blame the airline. It is a turbulent industry and as Gary reasoned in his post yesterday, it just made sense for the airlines to raise fares.

  2. Every member of Congress should be replaced. The tea party idiots that have us on the brink of a government-orchestrated financial meltdown that will dwarf 2008’s crisis are in for a big surprise come November 2012.

  3. Your statement is incorrect:

    “Republicans are demanding their bill pass that will eliminate a $16.5 million air service subsidies for 13 rural airports while Democrats hate the Republican version that will favor labor unions in that if members don’t vote in elections, it would be equivalent to a “no” vote.”

    The Republican holding point is a stand against labor unions by making it more difficult to unionize workers in counting non-votes as no votes among workers. The Republican provisions holding up FAA funding are not favorable to labor unions.

  4. This blog post is an example of the type of “false equivalency” arguments that do not actually consider WHO is causing the debacle and instead cast blame on every politician in Washington.

    • Hi SCL, You’re absolutely correct in reference to me not knowing the exact process and full details (hence my “armchair quarterback” comment). So who is causing the debacle? I’m serious… what am I missing?

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