Crowley Busts LaHood: Post-Sequester FAA Budget $500 Million More Than 2008 When Planes Ran Just Fine

When the Washington Post's Bob Woodward broke ranks with the Obama-loving media to correctly point out Friday that it was indeed the White House that originally proposed sequestration back in 2011, it was going to be interesting to see how many of his colleagues would follow suit.

On Sunday, CNN's Candy Crowley appeared to do so as she pressured Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood about whether or not the administration has "ginned up" the impact of the sequester in order to pressure Congress telling him at one point, "Your post-sequester total at FAA ops and facilities and equipment is going to be about $500 million more than 2008 and the planes were running just fine" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST: As far as we can figure out, the FAA budget - we're not even talking about the transportation - is about $15 billion give or take. They’re going to have to cut $600 million, about 4 percent. Why is that enough to cause planes to be delayed for an hour and a half? There surely must be things inside the FAA budget where can you get rid of 4 percent.

Absolutely fabulous question most of the media have been intentionally ignoring to support the administration's fearmongering. Let's see his answer:

RAY LAHOOD, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: And we’re going to do that, Candy. We have been spending the last several months looking at, and we will really focus on this now, every contract to see what penalties we might have to take. We’re going to cancel contracts. We’re going to look at everything we possibly can to get to where we need to be, which is about $600 million in cuts, but we can't do it without also furloughing people. And we’re going to have to, the largest number of people…

CROWLEY: 4 percent is just, that's a very big budget. And let me add something else. A Republican from Capitol Hill in the leadership office messaged and said, listen, the budget committee took a look at some of these numbers, and they found post-sequester, your post-sequester total at FAA ops and facilities and equipment is going to be about $500 million more than 2008 and the planes were running just fine. So, what's, I'm trying to figure out, as you know, people are saying the administration is exaggerating this. So, if you're going to be having totals inflation-adjusted at 2008 levels, why all of this [unintelligible] oh my goodness, all the planes are going to be late?


Exactly!

If media members had been honest about this the past few months, there's no way the administration would have been able to make the case that the world is going to come to an end as a result of these cuts.

The simple fact is that even with these cuts, federal spending in 2013 will be far greater than what was originally budgeted in 2008 prior to the financial collapse.

If Americans were aware of this - meaning that if journalists actually did their jobs! - public opinion about this budget deadlock would be far different.

Let's see LaHood's answer:

LAHOOD: Well first of all, we're required to cut $1 billion. The largest number of employees at DOT is at FAA of which the largest number are FAA controllers. We're going to try and cut as much as we possibly can out of contracts and other things that we do. But in the end there has to be some kind of furlough of air traffic controllers. And that, then, will also begin to curtail or eliminate the opportunity for them to guide planes in and out of airports. It's a big part of our budget.

Watch Crowley's response:

CROWLEY: Is it true that domestic flights are down 27 percent from pre-9/11 levels and the budget at the FAA is up 41 percent?

Imagine that. Someone is actually asking an administration official serious questions about current and past budgets to point out the absurdity of the present fearmongering.

Let's let that sink in a bit: "Is it true that domestic flights are down 27 percent from pre-9/11 levels and the budget at the FAA is up 41 percent?"

How many people in America are aware of this? Probably not many, right?

How much different would the discussion be if they were?

Let's see LaHood's answer:

LAHOOD: Well, look. We know that airlines have consolidated. We've approved some of those consolidations. And in doing that, you know, a certain …

CROWLEY: There's less traffic.

LAHOOD: There's less traffic, of course.

CROWLEY: But more budget.


Yep. Less traffic, more budget. Amazing. Yet LaHood wouldn't yield:

LAHOOD: Well, look, budgets go up and down, but the bottom line here is that there is sequester required. It's required by law. It means we have to make these cuts. This not stuff that we just decided to make up.

CROWLEY: No, I understand. I guess what I'm trying to get at is that people think, wait a minute, there surely has to be money that you can take, and you say you're going to look at it, without having to have delayed flights. And the idea is that this was kind of ginned up by the administration, and not just you, but, you know, aircraft carriers can't go here and there to try to put pressure on Congress.

Is there any other logical conclusion to reach?

The reality is that if you actually look at the numbers, the fearmongering is preposterous, and the media should never have allowed the administration to get away with it.

It's nice to see the pushback in the closing minutes of the game, but it would have been far better for the country if people like Crowley had been doing this for months.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.