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Air traffic controllers, health care, and Head Start

I fly a lot. You probably do too.  Flying is not much fun – when it’s not downright miserable.  So the news that the furlough of air traffic controllers mandated by sequestration was leading to even more delays was most unwelcome.

Some rejoiced when Congress passed legislation allowing the FAA to stop furloughing workers  – and I’ll admit I was one of the some. Typical American – it’s all about me and my personal convenience.

In the cold light of morning, that’s a very short-sighted perspective.

Sequestration was supposed to be so bad that even the intransigent Congress would come together to pass a budget.  If the FBI couldn’t add any new agents, pork producers couldn’t get their meat inspected, physicians’ payments were reduced, drug approvals delayed, weather reports and warnings more sporadic, Head Start enrollment reduced, the hue and cry would be so unthinkable that even Congress would compromise.

Alas, rather than compromise, some Congresspeole decided protecting their principles was far more important than anything else.

Until the folks who vote complained that – God forbid – they might have to spend another hour in the terminal waiting for a flight.

Congress – Dems and Reps alike – and the President – promptly caved on their principles, ended the certainly annoying but not life-altering inconvenience of travel delays, and thereby showed that flight delays are waaaaaay more important than real solutions to real problems – health care fraud, runaway health care costs, poorly-educated kids, national security.  

If anyone still thinks they’ll solve the big problems, think again.  This was the perfect issue to force compromise.  A principled stand by anyone would have (perhaps) forced compromise – the public was feeling the effects, and that public outrage, channeled effectively, was precisely the intent of the sequestration.

Nope.  When the going got tough a little uncomfortable, the spineless caved. And in so doing screwed the country.



3 thoughts on “Air traffic controllers, health care, and Head Start”

  1. I think you should stress Joe that Congress was acting (as they will say) on the will of their constituents. Of course the only constituents they listen to are those in the donor class. Those most inconvenienced couldn’t get their private jets in the queue to take off as they liked. Those are the folks that can get congress to pass legislation in a matter of hours to stop their “pain” while poor kids lose meals, educational opportunities and even their homes. Because members of Congress don’t take those calls.

  2. Joe,

    Interesting post today. While I don’t always see things the way you do politically, I think you’re pretty much on target here. We’ve become a nation of special interests each lining up to collect all the milk we can swallow from the federal teet. I see nobody in the administration, senate, or congress standing up to challenge the pork barrelers. Governmental employment continues to rise while the federal bureaucracy has grown beyond reason but all the problems that were evident thirty or forty years ago still exist and solutions for those problems seem no closer. Government trully is the problem not the solution.

  3. Great post. It just proves that our elected members are more concerned about themselves than the will of their citizens’ they are only there to enhance their own personal agendas

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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