Saturday, March 2, 2013

Out of $85 Billion we decide to cut this?

Like most of you I'm trembling at the thought of Obama's federal government having to make do without the equivalent of 9 days worth of spending in the federal budget.  If we HAD a budget that is, which we don't, because US Senate majority leader Harry Reid is smart enough to understand that passing a budget puts restraints on the amounts of taxpayer dollars you can spend. It's always (and I do mean always) the party OUT of power who wants a budget so that they can have something to appear on the TV news talk shows and bludgeon the party in power over the head with.

Leading up to this dark 9 days in US fiscal history it's useful to take a look at what is, and isn't, on the chopping block to see what our elected officials real priorities are. Right now it appears that the sequester is going to end Flyovers at sporting events, airshows by the Blue Angels (No word on whether or not the Thunderbirds will be affected) and the gainful employment of many air-traffic controllers. 

Amazingly, on the latter, while the FAA says there's "no way" they can possibly avoid cutting back on crucial flight operations enabling controllers they have plenty of money to fund in flight Harlem shake investigations.  And, when you think about it, this makes perfect sense.

If you would ask pretty much any member of congress what the main job of the FAA was the answer would publicly be to ensure the safety of the flying public.  Privately, however, they'd say that the FAA is there to investigate the airlines.  Because airline investigations can sometimes cause scandal, and scandals mean hearings, and hearings mean that there's a chance your elected representative can rise out from anonymity and receive a moments fame on a committee panel giving one of the airline CEO's the fifth degree.

This does two things. (usually)

It allows them to meet Diane Sawyer, and it allows them to fund raise back home with the new tag line that they are "protecting the little guy from big, mean, evil corporations."

Granted, this is a Democrat's wish list, and typically only plays to a Dem constituency.  For Republicans however there is a benefit as well. If you've ever watched a congressional hearing on C-SPAN there are two parts to the introduction before the questions begin.  One is political grandstanding by the offended party.  ALL of the members of the panel get to read a prepared statement (if they wish, and they usually wish).  Typically, the first group is the party in power and they get to tell you how bad things are. In this case they'll tell you how evil the airline corporations are and how they've trodden over the good union worker by choosing to locate factories in South Carolina (which many Dems consider a worse practice than off-shoring) and how they have cherub-like children give them sponge baths in the back garden while they're dining on peacock.

The second group (typically the party out of power, depending on the industry) choose to read a glowing review of the CEO in question building them up as a titan of industry and one who's business model, and integrity, is beyond reproach and how they're embarrassed to even be associated with these hearings.  They might as well pass a collections bowl out among the industry supporters while they're speaking to make fund-raising easier.

The point of all of this is to give the lowly congress persons some much needed face time on film so that their campaign teams can use that in their upcoming round of campaign commercials.  It's not about "helping" the people or keeping an eye on industry, but in keeping the incumbents in office.  When they're all done these elected gnats are going to go out and play golf together.

As funny as all of this is, it's not near as humorous as the reactions to the unelected bureaucrats.  To understand why they're cutting emotional infrastructure first you need to understand them.  The only thing that a bureaucrat hates more than having to deal with the American taxpayer, is having to cope with the fact that their unearned revenue bucket isn't going to be 20% larger this year than the year prior.  What this means is that the managers, directors and other middle-management are going to actually need to get some work done and come up with a workable budget on just 19.995% increases.  Horrible thoughts I know.

In an attempt to counteract this they make cuts designed to appeal to the low-information voter, to tug at heart-strings and to convince them that all their problems can be solved if they would just raise taxes on everyone making slightly more than they.

In other words: The progressive political model.

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