FAA furloughs delay flights
(Damian Dovarganes/AP)

The administration is taking another stab at making Americans miserable. After suggesting furloughs wouldn’t be necessary at the FAA, the administration switched gears and now insists the sequester is making them do it.

As the Wall Street Journal editorial board put it:

Flyers directly fund two-thirds of the FAA’s budget through 17 airline taxes and fees—about 20% of the cost of a $300 domestic ticket, up from 7% in the 1970s. Yet now the White House wants to make this agency that can’t deliver what passengers are supposedly paying for even more dysfunctional.

Ponder this logic, if that’s the right word: The sequester cuts about $637 million from the FAA, which is less than 4% of its $15.9 billion 2012 budget, and it limits the agency to what it spent in 2010. The White House decided to translate this 4% cut that it has the legal discretion to avoid into a 10% cut for air traffic controllers. Though controllers will be furloughed for one of every 10 working days, four of every 10 flights won’t arrive on time.

The administration’s cardinal error was thinking these sorts of gambits would induce Americans to demand more spending. Instead, they are likely to conclude the federal government is a clown show and deserve not a penny more that will only be spent on the bureaucratic equivalent of a red nose and floppy shoes.

The Obama team also is banking that Americans don’t understand that it has plenty of discretion to avoid disruptive maneuvers. (“The air traffic account includes 15,000 controllers out of 31,000 employees,” writes the Journal, “The White House could keep the controllers on duty simply by allocating more furlough days to these other non-essential workers.”)

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) was irate on Tuesday. He took to the Senate floor, declaring, “This is a willful choice being made by this Administration in order to inflict as disruptive a process as possible on the American public and on our economy – all to further a political agenda and to try to convince the American people that there are no circumstances under which we can ever cut spending at all.” He added, “We are running unacceptable deficits. The very modest savings of the sequester could be achieved in a way that wouldn’t be disruptive at all. We have a federal budget that has more than doubled in size in the last 12 years. To suggest that it’s not possible to find two and a half percent savings is simply ridiculous. And it’s not true.”

Well, there you have it — an administration so dedicated to spending more and more that it would rather make Americans miserable than suggest there really are ways to cut spending.

The Post explains that meanwhile ” the government will spend at least $890,000 on service fees for bank accounts that have nothing in them. At last count, Uncle Sam has 13,712 such accounts, each containing zero dollars and zero cents. These are supposed to be closed. But nobody has done the paperwork.” In other words, “So even now–as the ‘sequester’ budget cuts have begun idling workers and frustrating travelers–the government is still required to pay $65, per year, per account, to keep these empty accounts on the books.” I wonder how many air traffic controllers could stay on work full-time with $890,000.

The public has grown weary of crying wolf and ludicrous waste of their tax dollars, as reflected in the president’s declining approval ratings. Republicans and responsible Democrats should continue to educate the public and refuse to give into government by extortion. And when the next election rolls around responsible they should make it clear how foolish it would be to encourage these shenanigans by electing lawmakers willing to play along with such stunts.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.