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Gazette Premium Content Udall helps end sequestered air travel

The Gazette Updated: April 27, 2013 at 12:00 am

Thanks in large part to Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, President Barack Obama’s sequester fiasco will no longer cause long and needless delays at airports.

The Obama administration has taken every opportunity conceivable to punish Americans for reductions in spending growth demanded by conservatives.

Because the president neglected to propose surgical cuts in waste and nonessential programs, as Republicans asked him to do when they agreed to a tax hike and a higher credit limit, the chief executive’s irresponsible across-the-board sequester took effect and harmed government services that are essential to Americans.

The president wants Americans to feel the pain, so they might realize just how much we need government to continue growing and spending. To help convey this message, the administration insisted that the sequester force furloughs of air traffic controllers. What better than long waits in airports to make Americans beg for mercy from a government created to serve them.

The administration imposed flight delays despite the FAA receiving more money this year than President Obama requested in his budget. The furloughs came as the administration maintained nonessential FAA consultants who cost government $500 million annually. The administration imposed flight delays despite a recent study by Bloomberg Government, a private public policy analysis organization, that found the FAA has a surplus of air traffic controllers so abundant that it could manage furloughs without causing delays.

Udall — a Democrat who fights for federal fiscal responsibility — put a stop to the airport madness by working on a bipartisan deal with Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W. Va., and John Thune, R-S.D. The four senators crafted and led approval of the “Reducing Flight Delays Act,” which gives the secretary of transportation flexibility to transfer discretionary funds into the Federal Aviation Administration’s operations budget to prevent furloughs of essential employees. The bill requires the FAA to obtain cost savings, to comply with President Obama’s sequester, from less essential and nonessential parts of the agency. The bill does what Obama could have done, had he chosen to work for the public’s best interest rather than trying to send a vengeful political message.

As a result of the bill, and a similar House version, the Obama administration will have no means of pretending that fiscal restraint must cripple air transportation. Congressional Republicans and Democrats effectively called the president’s bluff.

In a written statement, Udall said sequestration cuts “have left many of our businesses and travelers languishing in long lines at our nation’s airports. This is an unacceptable and avoidable drag on our resurgent economy.”

The Senate approved the bill late Thursday and a House version passed Friday. President Obama plans to sign the bill. He has little choice, as Americans are getting wise to his use of sequester to inconvenience them. They are quickly losing patience with it.

We get that President Obama wants an ever-growing government with unrestrained ability to spend. Alas, it can’t continue. Our economy has limits and those limits were long ago surpassed.

Sequestration was President Obama’s idea, and it kicked in because of his failure to get spending under control. Americans, through their elected representatives to Congress, must continue reminding President Obama that federal government belongs to the public and not politicians. Federal agencies were created and are funded so they will serve the people of the United States. They are not to be used as a tool of punishment when Americans demand fiscal responsibility. Thank you, Sen. Udall and company, for taking a stand in favor of the people government was created to serve.

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