Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Revenues, Schmevenues – we can’t let those airline workers unionize!

Every day, in every way the conservative/Tea Party Republicans show how little they really care about ordinary Americans, jobs, fiscal responsibility and actual governing, and how devoted they are to sticking it to Obama and the Democrats no matter what the cost to the entire country.
Case in point: after their gigantic hissy fit over the debt ceiling, the House Republicans stuck the Democratic-controlled Senate with one of their “My Way or No Highway” ultimatums regarding the operations of the Federal Aviation Administration and went home.   
Either the Senate swallows their ridiculous demands, which Obama says he will veto in any case, or 4,000 FAA employees will remain on unpaid furlough and tens of thousands of construction workers working on airport construction projects around the nation will be idled and unpaid for at least five weeks until the House comes back after Labor Day.  It could, of course, go on for a lot longer than that.
Fortunately for all you people who will be flying in the month of August, the government has required the air traffic controllers to stay on the job as essential employees despite the stalemate.  Let’s hope they get paid.
But the big number here is this: the government will not collect $1.3 billion in taxes from the sales of tickets during the shutdown.  
$1.3 billion!  In one month.  Or $15.6 billion a year.  That’s a fair amount of revenue.  But I forget, we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.  So apparently we can just throw revenue like this away without a thought.
According to Tea Party Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., the, only way to end the shutdown is for the Senate to rush through a previously passed House bill containing $16.5 million cuts in annual air service subsidies to 13 rural communities, many of which are served by Democratic legislators.  
$16.5 million in subsidies.  Really?  The government lost more than $200 million in tax revenues in the first week of the shutdown, which began July 23.  Again the Teapublicans prove they can’t do the math, or they don’t want to.
By the way, four of those 13 rural airports are in Pennsylvania, the most in any single state:  Bradford, Pa.; Johnstown, Pa.; Franklin/Oil City, Pa., and Lancaster, Pa. 
But wait, did you, the air traveling public think you would get a break because the government can’t collect those taxes?  Perish the thought.  The airlines instantly tacked the equivalent of what you would have paid in taxes to the price of an airline ticket.
And that’s not even the best part.  It’s not really the rural airport subsidies that have the House Republicans ticked off.  They are demanding a provision in the FAA funding bill that would overturn a National Mediation Board rule approved last year that allows airline and railroad employees to form a union by a simple majority of those voting. Under the old rule, workers who didn't vote were treated as "no" votes.
Democrats and union leaders say the new rule puts airline and railroad elections under the same democratic rules required for unionizing all other companies.  Unions?  Hell no, there’ll be no unions if the Tea Party has anything to say about it.
It’s just another example of the vicious gamesmanship we can expect over and over again from the far-right Republicans on every single issue from here until Election Day when, I hope, the American people will wake up and stick as many of these toads back under their rocks as possible.   And please don’t give us any more of them!

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