In a best case scenario for a squeaking wheel getting the oil,
we saw the coming together of media, the airline companies and the
Congress itself. But the passage of the bill to ease the FAA’s pain
happened so fast, you probably did not see it.
Last week the Congress wasted no time fixing one of the many budget
cuts activated under sequestration: Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) cuts in air traffic personnel resulting in 1,000 daily flight
delays. That’s because over 47,000 FAA employees have been forced into
taking furlough days and 149 airport towers were closed.
According to an analysis of mainstream media by the Huffington Post,
the sequestrations impact on FAA was mentioned far more often than the
impacts on areas like Head Start or Medicare. Commerce was being
stymied and the One Percenters’ mobility was definitely curtailed. The
airline companies filed a suit in federal court. The rest is history.
Sequestration was the ultimate chicken game between the
Republican and Democrats in Congress. When the Congressional
Chuckleheads couldn’t come to agreement over debt reduction and tax
increases, they all signed off on the Budget Control Act which aimed to
cut domestic spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years - $85
billion in this fiscal year alone. Since the cuts would be across the
board and affecting projects of both parties, the illogical thinking
was that the draconian and cavalier slashes would never happen. Wrong!
All governmental agencies face the cutbacks from defense to parks to
health. The Congressional Budget Office estimates sequestration will
cost around 750,000 jobs in total. Economic experts project a huge,
negative impact on the economy. Once again, Congress proves that it
knows nothing about job creation or economic development.
You may not necessarily care if tours of the White House have been
scrapped or that certain national parks will be closed. However, the
“rolling impact” as described by the Obama Administration will
ultimately be catastrophic for the 99 Percenters. Head Start will lose
about 70,000 of the 1 million slots for children of poor and working
class families. Cancer clinics are already refusing Medicaid patients
because there’s no money for pay for the expensive treatments. Vouchers
for Section 8 housing and other housing subsidies are at a standstill.
Senior citizens who depend on Meals on Wheels will have to look
elsewhere for food but not at food pantries - they are also shutting
down. Unemployment payments, emergency disaster assistance, scientific
research grants, small business loans and more are all in peril.
This is just the beginning of the Congress’ austerity plan for America.
And because the cuts will be slow and not affect all families in the
same way, it is sure to become the new normal if we don’t aggressively
We are already seeing that potential sequestration damage is being
adjusted as the ruling class experiences inconvenience or loss in
Despite sequestration, nearly $5 billion was recently added to tighten
U.S. borders over the next five years. This government has already
spent about $18 billion on immigration enforcement this last fiscal
year, more than all other law enforcement agencies combined. This
includes the purchase of ten drones which cost $18 million each and
$3000 an hour to operate. I’m not an investigative reporter but I’d bet
that the drone contractor is a friend of a Congressperson or two.
When it became known that meat and poultry plants would be shut down
and inspections limited, the meat and poultry lobbyists went into high
gear. Congress passed a bill that allowed the Department of Agriculture
to move funds around in the budget to cover returning inspectors to
their jobs. Can’t have those One Percenters going out to dinner and not
being able order their Kobe steaks!
In some cases, the sequestration has actually helped the corporate
bloodsuckers. For example, two of the five offices in the labor
department who are dealing with a backlog of mine-safety appeals will
close and almost half of the attorneys hired to prosecute mine
companies will be laid off in about a month. The big mining companies
may not be held accountable for their criminal negligence that has led
to death and injury of mineworkers. This action comes right in the
middle of the United Mineworkers Union taking Peabody Coal to federal
court for refusing to pay health care and other benefits.
Congress needs to hear from us in a powerful and organized way,
demanding that they come up with a humane and balanced approach to
these cuts. Tell them you know they exempted their salaries from the
knife but millions of Americans will be adversely affected by the
sequestration as the various agencies implement their budget decisions.
Outline how you think the money for drones at the borders could be
better spent. Let them know that you already anticipate there’s going
to be an outcry for more money to the War on Terror coffers in the wake
of the Boston bombing. Tell them that you are part of a wave of
citizens engaging in democratizing government budgets so that the real
needs of the majority of people are met and not a hand full of elites
getting goodies at taxpayers’ expense.