In a White House briefing Friday, Press Secretary Jay Carney admitted defeat over holding the FAA hostage over phony across the board cuts known as the sequester. This was little more than scare tactics that ultimately resulted in a concession after just four days.
In an embarrassing nerved reaction to a journalist who questioned him over whether the White House was using FAA cuts as strategy to get higher tax increases, Carney said, "I think you're imagining leverage here."
He also downplayed the intentional paralysis of the aviation industry in a press conference late Thursday as if unaware and ignorant to the fact that major flight delays across the country hit the nerves of every traveler, "But ultimately, this is no more than a temporary band-aid that fails to address the overarching threat to our economy posed by the sequester's mindless across the board cuts.”
It just took four days. Those four days were enough for Republicans to masterfully craft a strategy to the American public over the cause of the flight delays. The Republicans were able to communicate the absurdity of the furloughs as a result of the Democrats willingness to throw FAA workers under the bus rather than reach a balance budget deal.
On Monday, the FAA reported more than 1,200 delays due to sequester. On Tuesday, “challenges” with some of the busiest airports such as Las Vegas, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles and New York according to Fox News. On Thursday, according to a press release, the FAA directly blamed the employee furloughs due to the sequestration for more than 863 delays in major airports; that’s an approximately 40% increase in the amount of delays in addition to unforeseen weather and other factors.
In those four days, Republicans pushed the FAA over its budget and the FAA Administrator Michael Huerta poorly handled leadership. Apparently, Huerta did not notify airlines, airports and infrastructure over how it would handle the cuts until last Tuesday, according to a hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood knew as far back as February, when the cuts would take place.
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers blasted Huerta over lack of cooperation in a heated exchange. "How come you didn't tell us about this beforehand, the sequester, impact on the layoffs, the furloughs? Not a word. Not a breath," House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R–Ky.) asked Mr. Huerta at the hearing.
Subcommittee Chairman Tom Lathan, (R-Iowa) chimed in, “You’re in a difficult situation, obviously, but I wish you had come to us to actually let us know what we could do to fix the problem.”
"The public's going to be furious when they find out that this could have been prevented," said Senator Dan Coats (R.-Ind.)
"By the first of this week, Senator Reid proposed replacing the whole sequester with phony war savings. And by last night, Senate Democrats were adopting our targeted 'cut this, not that' approach. This victory is in large part a result of our standing together under the banner of #Obamaflightdelays,” said House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
At the end of the day, this is a score for the Republicans for standing up to fight for unnecessary but debilitating cuts to the U.S. infrastructure. While the Republicans were seeking to fix the problem, the response from the Democrats was radio silence. Carney’s dismal response to the FAA cuts shows a disregard for the American public and arrogance. In the end it was a cheap way to hold an entire industry hostage as a bargaining chip for greater tax increases.