NBC: Republican Efforts to Reduce Deficit Are Endangering Public Safety

In an interview with Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Meredith Vieira exploited recent instances of air traffic controllers falling asleep on the job to bash Republican efforts to curb government spending: "...the House signed a bill – passed a bill, I'm sorry – that would cut $4 billion from your budget. Are you worried about that?"

In response Lahood proclaimed: "Of course we're worried about it. And I think these incidents prove up the case that we can't let money stand in the way of safety....Money will never compromise safety. That will always be our priority for the flying public." Vieira followed up: "But just so I understand, are you saying that that $4 billion cut would negatively impact aviation safety?"

What Vieira failed to explain was that the GOP proposal simply brought the FAA budget back to 2008 levels, still providing the government agency with $59.7 billion.

Here is a transcript of the April 15 exchange between Vieira and Lahood:

7:09AM ET

(...)

MEREDITH VIEIRA: You know, Congressman Mica, the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, says that it is wrong of the FAA to add air controllers at this time. He argues, 'This increase in staffing, when there is little to no traffic, also misdirects our resources and focus away from congested air traffic control facilities.' What is your response to that?

RAY LAHOOD: Look it, we're not going to let money compromise safety. If safety is our number one priority and it takes additional controllers to get to the kind of zero tolerance that we want, that's what we will do. We will always find the money to make sure that safety is the number one priority for the flying public.

VIEIRA: And yet the House signed a bill – passed a bill, I'm sorry – that would cut $4 billion from your budget. Are you worried about that?

LAHOOD: Of course we're worried about it. And I think these incidents prove up the case that we can't let money stand in the way of safety. And we will work with Congress on making sure we have the resources to have the right number of controllers, well-trained, well-rested, and alert, in these control towers. Money will never compromise safety. That will always be our priority for the flying public.


VIEIRA: But just so I understand, are you saying that that $4 billion cut would negatively impact aviation safety?

LAHOOD: We're going to work with Congress to make sure we have the right resources to have controllers that are well-trained and alert in these towers. That's our obligation to the flying public for safety.

VIEIRA: Alright, Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood, thank you very much.

LAHOOD: Thank you, Meredith.

— Kyle Drennen is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC