Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Aviation Week & Space Technology August 08, 2011

U.S. President Harry S. Truman campaigned in 1948 against a "Do Nothing Congress." One wonders what he would think of today's lawmakers. A dispute on Capitol Hill about funding for the FAA idled 4,000 civil servants and 70,000 workers in airport-related construction jobs on July 23. Other FAA employees worked without pay, planning to collect when their agency's budget is approved. With 74,000 voters out of work, one would expect lawmakers to work overtime to reach a compromise and restore funding. Not this Congress. Republicans and Democrats blamed each other for the impasse�and then left Washington for a five-week vacation. This shameful dereliction of duty came just after quibbling lawmakers brought the U.S. to the brink of defaulting on its debt, an action that would have sent shock waves through the global economy. The last-minute deal they cobbled together was hardly bold. It cuts less than $1 trillion in spending during the next 10 years, and puts off a decision on where to get another $1.5 trillion in cuts until the end of the year. And if lawmakers cannot agree, $1.2 trillion wall automatically be cut�about half of it from defense and security spending. In other words, the political system has broken down to such an extent that now the Pentagon is being held hostage.