Budgeting tactics

You may have heard about the stress and strain related to the FAA dealing with restricted funds. There is a story behind that and it is all about efforts to reduce government spending. A Rational Shut Down Strategy explains the situation and its implications.

About 4,000 or so FAA employees are furloughed, about $30 million in taxes and fees are uncollected each day, and airport construction work has come to a halt. The story is a convoluted one. Briefly told, the House is seeking to eliminate subsidies to rural airports outside Alaska and Hawaii. This is a small but significant battle as many unnecessary rural airports are unreasonably subsidized. The airport in Harry Reid’s district, for instance, receives subsidies to the tune of $3,700 per ticket. The Senate would allow many of these to remain. More importantly, the House seeks to keep the current rules for unionizing airport/airline employees while the Senate version would make it much easier for unions to win elections.

As a contrast to the recent ‘all or nothing’ debt ceiling problem, this one is tackling budget issues in smaller chunks. The issues at hand are common ones. Restraining pork is about reducing subsidies. The Union problem echoes what happened in Wisconsin recently.

As we approach yet another budgetary food fight when the current continuing resolution expires on September 30 what has happened with the FAA is instructive on how to reduce federal spending, including the elimination of agencies, without triggering a widespread government shutdown with uncertain outcomes. … Carried to a logical conclusion this particular fight tells us a lot about how to rein in government spending.

This is also an example about why bundling and amendments get a lot of opposition. Pet projects that won’t pass on their own often get tucked into something else that has significant benefit. The ‘pork’ gets by as a part of the price of the desired legislation. By separating things out and keeping a focus on smaller bites as illustrated in this case, it might just be that the fundamental issues will get proper play and effective solutions found as ideologies are fit into reality.

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