Americans by now are tired of hearing the terms like fiscal cliff, sequestration, and debt ceiling, seeing all as glowing symbols of the failure of elected officials in Washington to move past partisan bickering and take substantive action to get our teetering economy back on the right track.
The end of the week brought emergency action by Congress to terminate the latest game being played with the sequester: furloughing air traffic controllers, an unnecessary action designed to make the sequester painful for the taxpayers. The discomfort never should have been inflicted.
On Friday, the House passed a measure to allow the Federal Aviation Administration to transfer funds to cover the costs of maintaining adequate air traffic controller levels. This measure would avoid the extra delays from furloughs and keep the FAA from having to close some 149 smaller towers targeted in the administration’s failed attempt to portray a relatively small mandated cut in federal spending as an end of the world event.
As of this writing, the measure, passed by the Senate on Thursday night, heads to the President’s desk awaiting his signature.
This is just another example of Washington playing political games instead of working for the people the elected officials there serve. It remains little wonder that the Congressional approval rating was at 15 percent in the most recent Gallup poll, and that rating over the last three years has been the lowest on average in Gallup’s measurements dating back to 1974.
The time spent solving this made up crisis would have not been necessary if both sides of the political aisle had done their jobs in 2011 instead of deferring that responsibility to a future time, then allowing the much dreaded sequester to go into effect amid theatrics on all sides.
Average Americans simply aren’t buying that the government can’t live on a smaller rate in its overall increase of spending as they grapple each day with balancing their own budgets in an economy that could be described as tepid at best.
Those on Main Street, USA, can’t raise their debt ceilings for unlimited borrowing, nor can they run up bills they could never afford to pay. When they have a limited amount of money to spend, they prioritize the most important spending and put the money they do have toward those bills. And most of these households face the reality of actually having less money, thanks to tax increases that took effect earlier this year (as opposed to the government definition of a cut — not as much more as we wanted).
Faced with less when household income dips, the average family pays the electricity bill first and cuts out discretionary spending. Parents wouldn’t
threaten their family with cutting off the electricity while dining out, claiming limited funds could not go to this essential need at the expense of a less important want simply “because.”
That sums up the games that Washington continues to play. Shrill rhetoric preceded the implementation of the sequester. Political gamesmanship has followed, but the public doesn’t buy these games and has tired of watching politicians play them.
Imagine the potential results if Congress put as much effort into substantive tax reform as they do into blaming each other for the most recent made-up crisis, which was designed solely for political reasons, a repeating and seemingly endless cycle. Imagine the salubrious result if Washington took an axe to government waste, fraud, and abuse as a first line of getting spending back in order.
Hope springs eternal in the human breast, as Alexander Pope rightly said. But no one should hold his breath in anticipation of either of those happening soon. But at least the skies may soon be friendly again.