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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Sequester Scare Talk Crashes and Burns



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Tuesday’s Morning Jolt features turning point in the Cola Wars of New York City, an eye-opening report of taxpayer funds going to the Tides Foundation, and then this bit of surprising polling news:

Sequester Scare Talk Crashes and Burns

Well, that bit of White House messaging doesn’t seem to be working so smoothly:

The budget cuts in Washington have not hit home in America, at least not yet.

A plurality of Americans think federal spending cuts will have no effect at all on them or their families, according to a new McClatchy-Marist Poll. At the same time, as many Americans think the cuts will have no effect or a positive effect on the overall economy as think the cuts will hurt the economy, the survey found.

No, wait, it gets better:

Nearly half — 49 percent — of registered voters said the current cuts will have no impact at all on them or their families. Another 39 percent said the cuts would have a negative impact, and 10 percent said they would have a positive impact.

Independents and Republicans are more likely to see no effect headed their way.

Among independents, 52 percent expect no effect, 39 percent expect a negative effect, and 7 percent expect a positive effect.

Among Republicans, it’s 52-36-8.

Democrats are evenly split, 41-41 on whether the cuts will be negative or have no impact on their families. In a surprise, 14 percent of Democrats expect a positive impact for themselves, well more than independents or Republicans.

(INSERT SPIT TAKE HERE)

But here comes another round of scaremongering:

Twenty-three air traffic control towers in California are among more than 200 nationwide scheduled to close April 7 as the Federal Aviation Administration begins imposing $600 million in federal budget cuts.

It was unknown which traffic control towers would be affected when the automatic federal budget cuts in the so-called sequestration kicked in March 1, but the FAA last week released a list of airports, mainly small and medium-sized, that will be affected.

AAAAH! IT WILL BE JUST LIKE DIE HARD 2! SOMEBODY GET FRED THOMPSON! AAAAH!

But in the middle of a New Jersey newspaper’s coverage of the terrifying and scary cuts (“Dark Skies Ahead”), there’s this little detail:

Despite the fact that most airports in the United States do not have air traffic control towers, Essex County and Trenton-Mercer are near big international airports that have constant departures and arrivals, which cause crowded skies.

Most airports don’t have control towers? So just how many tower-less airports are out there? Oodles, to use the technical term:

According to the 2011-2015 National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS), released by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there were over 19,700 airports in the U.S. Of these, 5,170 airports are open to the general public with 503 airports offering commercial service. The majority of public airports — 2,829 — are designated as reliever or general aviation airports versus commercial service.

This article from 2000 states that “only about 350 have towers that are manned by FAA air traffic controllers.”

Clearly, a tower-less airport cannot be a deathtrap, or else we would be hearing about crashes at these tower-less airports all the time.

Oh, and how has the Federal Aviation Administration been spending its money in recent years?

Airports have spent $3.5 billion in federal money since 1998 on projects the Federal Aviation Administration rated as low priority because they do little to improve the most pressing needs in the nation’s aviation system, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The money comes from a program that is supposed to improve aviation safety. Priority goes to projects such as runways, taxiways and beacons.

But the program also has funded terminals at little-used airports, hangars to store private jets, and parking areas that are free to customers, according to the analysis of FAA records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act . . .

Pellston Regional Airport in Michigan used $7.5 million in federal funds to build a terminal with stone fireplaces and cathedral ceilings. The airport averages three departures a day.

What, no granite countertops?

Besides, aren’t these the guys who are always getting caught sleeping on the job?

  • A controller at a Miami regional tower fell asleep during an overnight shift. This regional center is responsible for controlling air traffic for most of Florida, as well as parts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean.
  • One controller slept for five hours while working a midnight shift at a Tennessee airport tower.
  • A supervisor at Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport fell asleep for nearly a half hour during a night shift. At the time, the supervisor was the only air traffic controller on duty in the tower.
  • An air traffic controller has been caught sleeping on the job — while a plane carrying a critically ill patient was trying to land at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada.
  • Similar reports at Westchester County Airport in New York.

I’ll bet the sequester has these guys losing sleep.


Tags: Federal Aviation Administration , Sequester


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