“Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail,” Mr. Obama said in his 2011 State of the Union address. “This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying — without the pat-down.”
But as Mr. Obama’s second term nears an end, some experts say the president’s words were a fantasy.
“The idea that we would have a high-speed system that 80 percent of Americans could access in that short period of time was unadulterated hype, and it didn’t take an expert to see through it,” said Kenneth Orski, the editor and publisher of an influential transportation newsletter who served in the Nixon and Ford administrations. “And scattering money all around the country rather than focusing it on areas ripe for high-speed rail didn’t help.”
But there’s another lesson in the FAA furlough fiasco: Whatever politicians control, they will use against you to get what they want. The furloughs weren’t a reasoned effort to save money: They were an attempt to punish voters for not approving tax increases. If the politicians could have shut down ESPN and blamed insufficient revenue, they would have done that, too.
Rather than use sequestration to trim waste, the Obama administration has viewed the deadline—and the Republican desire to curtail spending—as an assault on big government. If it’s a choice between defending big government and hurting the individual, President Obama appears much more inclined to punish the individual, hoping that a backlash against government-instigated inconvenience will lead Republicans to cave.
The president’s mention prompted Carlos Elias, the superintendent of the U.S. Capitol building and the Capitol Visitors Center, to email his employees within hours of Mr. Obama’s comment.
“The pay and benefits of EACH of our employees WILL NOT be impacted,” Elias wrote.
“There was a specific mention in the news today by a high ranking official that said ‘The employees that clean and maintain the US Capitol will receive a cut in pay’ (not specific quote but very close to it),” Elias continued.
“This is NOT TRUE,” wrote Elias. “Therefore, I request that you please notify all of our employees about the importance of ignoring media reports.”
Just keep on spendin’!
The White House is threatening a presidential veto of a Senate Republican measure that would give President Barack Obama more authority and flexibility to find $85 billion in spending cuts this year. The measure is intended to replace the automatic across-the-board cuts scheduled to kick in Friday.The White House says it instead backs a Democratic measure to replace the cuts with tax hikes on millionaires and spending reductions over 10 years.
Back in 2000, the FAA handled 23% more air traffic with fewer flight controllers than it employs today, according to the Department of Transportation’s own inspector general, who added this raises “questions about the efficiency of FAA’s current controller workforce.”
Either air traffic controllers have gotten far less efficient over the past 13 years, or the FAA could get by with about 3,400 fewer of them — without affecting the quality of air travel one bit. Cutting out those excess controllers would get LaHood more than halfway to the $600 million he has to cut from the FAA’s budget.
And while LaHood ominously talks about closing 100 control towers, what he doesn’t say is that these towers should have been closed long ago.
In fact, Bloomberg News reports the FAA itself identified more than 100 “zombie towers” that handle so few flights they should be cut back or closed.
Then there’s the fact the administration has more flexibility in dealing with the sequester cuts than LaHood, or anyone else working for Obama, is willing to admit.
As the fact-checking site PolitiFact.com points out, “within the specific programs targeted for cuts, federal managers have a fair amount of discretion about what to reduce.”
“I could not be more frustrated than I am right now,” Haley told reporters after the meeting. She said that when she asked Obama if he would consider a last-minute plan to shave about 2 percent from the annual federal budget without increasing taxes, the answer was “no.”
“My kids could go and find $83 billion out of a $4 trillion budget,” Haley said. “This is not rocket science.”
Nancy, the work you do is much less than what most people do to actually add value to our economy and keep their families fed. That’s dignity; feeding your narcissism is not.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that she opposes a cut in congressional pay because it would diminish the dignity of lawmakers’ jobs.
“I don’t think we should do it; I think we should respect the work we do,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol. “I think it’s necessary for us to have the dignity of the job that we have rewarded.”
Jack Andrews and his wife no longer enjoy what they call date night, their once-a-month outing to the movies and a steak dinner at Logan’s Roadhouse in Augusta, Ga. In Harlem, Eddie Phillips’s life insurance payment will have to wait a few more weeks. And Jessica Price is buying cheaper food near her home in Orlando, Fla., even though she worries it may not be as healthy.
Like millions of other Americans, they are feeling the bite from the sharp increase in payroll taxes that took effect at the beginning of January. There are growing signs that the broader economy is suffering, too.
Chain-store sales have weakened over the course of the month. And two surveys released last week suggested that consumer confidence was eroding, especially among lower-income Americans.
While these data points are preliminary — more detailed statistics on retail sales and other trends will not be available until later this month — at street level, the pain from the expiration of a two-percentage-point break in Social Security taxes in 2011 and 2012 is plain to see.
“You got to stretch what you got,” said Mr. Phillips, 51, a front-desk clerk and maintenance man for a nonprofit housing group who earned $22,000 last year. “That little $20 or $30 affects you, especially if you’re just making enough money to stay above water.” So he has taken to juggling bills, skipping a payment on one this month and another next month.
“I’m playing catch-up each month,” he said. “You go to the supermarket and you can’t spend what you used to.”
Let the Democrats sell the stale power of more federal programs, while we promote the rejuvenating power of new businesses.
We don’t believe old, top-down, industrial-age government becomes a good idea just because it agrees with us or because we are running it.
We must focus on the empowerment of citizens making relevant and different decisions in their communities while Democrats sell factory-style government that cranks out one dumbed-down answer for the whole country.
This means re-thinking nearly every social program in Washington. Very few of them work in my view, and frankly, the one-size fits all crowd has had its chance.
If any rational human being were to create our government anew, today, from a blank piece of paper – we would have about one fourth of the buildings we have in Washington and about half of the government workers.
We would replace most of its bureaucracy with a handful of good websites.
If we created American government today, we would not dream of taking money out of people’s pockets, sending it all the way to Washington, handing it over to politicians and bureaucrats to staple thousands of pages of artificial and political instructions to it, then wear that money out by grinding it through the engine of bureaucratic friction…and then sending what’s left of it back to the states, where it all started, in order to grow the American economy.
What we are doing now to govern ourselves is not just wrong. It is out of date and it is a failure.