EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

May 4, 2013

Column: Obama puts nation at risk to score political point

Not recently, if ever, has a U.S. president put Americans in physical danger in order to score cheap partisan points. Barack Obama’s just-reversed furlough of Federal Aviation Administration employees increased the probability that overstretched, unseasoned or distracted air-traffic controllers might miscalculate — possibly with fatal results. But what did Obama care? Blaming Republicans was his mission, even if that made Americans endure long airport lines, flight delays and greater risk of air disasters.

As The Wall Street Journal observed, “The FAA’s all-hands furloughs managed to convert a less than 4 percent FAA budget cut into a 10 percent air-traffic control cut that would delay 40 percent of flights.”

The White House website claims that Americans ache “because Republicans in Congress allowed a series of harmful, automatic budget cuts — called the sequester.” Thus, “travelers were stuck for hours in airports and on planes. ...”

Congress did Obama’s job for him, giving the FAA the flexibility to respect the sequester’s spending limits, but prioritize air safety. In response, Obama whined in his weekly Saturday radio address: “Republicans claimed victory when the sequester first took effect, and now they’ve decided it was a bad idea all along.” Never mind that the sequester was Obama’s idea all along, as Washington Post legend Bob Woodward proved in February.

This all fits what the TrueSpeak Institute’s Jim Guirard calls Obama’s “harm offensive.” The one-time chief of staff to Louisiana’s late Democratic Sen. Russell Long says, “Obama’s strategy, tactics, and constant modus operandi seem to be ‘First, do all possible harm’ to the public in managing the mandated spending limitations, and then blame the damage, the suffering, and — in the case of airline safety — the deadly danger on the Republicans.”

Senior federal officials followed Obama’s example. As one FAA staffer complained in The Wall Street Journal, “The FAA management has stated in meetings that they need to make the furloughs as hard as possible for the public so that they understand how serious it is.”

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