**Written by Doug Powers
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has, at the behest of the White House, been conducting interviews in order to spread the word that if the sequester kicks in there’s a good chance the air traveling public will be stuck at airports so long they’ll think they’re unwitting participants in the filming of “The Terminal II: Sequestered!“
Today on CNN’s State of the Union, during an interview with LaHood, host Candy Crowley committed something that I believe Rush Limbaugh refers to as a “random act of journalism” (not always the case). Crowley pointed out that even if the sequester kicks in, the budget in this area would still be more than it was in 2008 when the “planes were running just fine,” and there’s even less traffic now. LaHood, however, is still trying to sell the “long delays at the airport” post-sequester air travel apocalypse.
Video and partial transcript from Noel Sheppard at Newsbusters:
CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: As far as we can figure out, the FAA budget – we’re not even talking about the transportation – is about $15 billion give or take. They’re going to have to cut $600 million, about 4 percent. Why is that enough to cause planes to be delayed for an hour and a half? There surely must be things inside the FAA budget where can you get rid of 4 percent.
RAY LAHOOD, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: And we’re going to do that, Candy. We have been spending the last several months looking at, and we will really focus on this now, every contract to see what penalties we might have to take. We’re going to cancel contracts. We’re going to look at everything we possibly can to get to where we need to be, which is about $600 million in cuts, but we can’t do it without also furloughing people. And we’re going to have to, the largest number of people…
CROWLEY: 4 percent is just, that’s a very big budget. And let me add something else. A Republican from Capitol Hill in the leadership office messaged and said, listen, the budget committee took a look at some of these numbers, and they found post-sequester, your post-sequester total at FAA ops and facilities and equipment is going to be about $500 million more than 2008 and the planes were running just fine. So, what’s, I’m trying to figure out, as you know, people are saying the administration is exaggerating this. So, if you’re going to be having totals inflation-adjusted at 2008 levels, why all of this [unintelligible] oh my goodness, all the planes are going to be late?
LAHOOD: Well first of all, we’re required to cut $1 billion. The largest number of employees at DOT is at FAA of which the largest number are FAA controllers. We’re going to try and cut as much as we possibly can out of contracts and other things that we do. But in the end there has to be some kind of furlough of air traffic controllers. And that, then, will also begin to curtail or eliminate the opportunity for them to guide planes in and out of airports. It’s a big part of our budget.
CROWLEY: Is it true that domestic flights are down 27 percent from pre-9/11 levels and the budget at the FAA is up 41 percent?
LAHOOD: Well, look. We know that airlines have consolidated. We’ve approved some of those consolidations. And in doing that, you know, a certain …
CROWLEY: There’s less traffic.
LAHOOD: There’s less traffic, of course.
CROWLEY: But more budget.
Read the full transcript here.
**Written by Doug Powers
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