The ICO editorial “Up in the air” (August 5, 2011) seemed familiar. I found “playing chicken with the full faith and credit of the United States of American” or variations used by White House press secretary Jay Carney at least six times. The next Democrat talking point in the editorial was that “Congress bailed out of Washington for vacation, leaving the Federal Aviation bill sitting in the ‘to do’ pile.”
Actually, the Republican House passed an FAA funding bill two weeks before their “vacation,” and inaction on passing it was due to the Democrat-controlled Senate. Normally the Senate would pass their FAA bill, and the differences between the House and Senate bills would be reconciled. But Dem. Senator Jay Rockefeller blocked it at a cost of $300 million in lost taxes to save little-used Morgantown airport (75 miles from Pittsburgh, PA).
More Democrat talking points were in a Huffpost article and appeared summarized in the ICO editorial, which referred to Republicans not funding “Essential Air Service that keeps vital rural airports open.” Since the US has 14,695 airports (133 more than the total of the next nine countries), what makes these essential?
The thirteen “essential” airports are in “strategic” Democrats’ districts, courtesy of unabashed pork-barrel spending. For example, John Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania (67 miles from Pittsburgh), cost $200 million to build and serves less than 30 passengers per day, each subsidized $147. Its $8.5 million radar has never been used. A military unit that was stationed on it to make it more “essential” only flies helicopters. The alternate runway was just repaved with $800,000 in stimulus funds, although the primary runway is hardly used.
One airport in Senator Reid’s Nevada receives EAS subsidies of $3,720 per passenger. That’s way “up in the air!”