The furious finger-pointing in Washington over air travel delays makes one thing perfectly clear: The government's finances are an absolute mess.
The blame game on Capitol Hill is absurd. The budget gimmick called sequester that resulted in furloughs for air traffic controllers and long waits for air travelers was supposed to be such a horrible option that avoiding it would force Congress and the White House to do some responsible budgeting. It didn't work, and now the public is feeling that failure.
Rather than venting their ire at Congress for frustrating travel delays, voters should instead focus on the meat-ax approach to deficit reduction and insist that lawmakers fix the real problem by enacting a rational budget. Rather than do that in recent years, Congress has lurched from one self-inflicted fiscal crisis to the next.
The Obama administration is no doubt making cuts at the Federal Aviation Administration that maximize the embarrassment for Congress. And lawmakers are casting about for ways to get air traffic controllers back to work. But what about housing aid for homeless veterans, tuition assistance for military personnel, Head Start classes for disadvantaged kids and federal extended unemployment benefits? Spending for those things and more was cut in the sequester deal that President Barack Obama proposed and Congress passed in 2011 to end the crisis Republicans provoked by refusing to raise the debt ceiling and pushing the government perilously close to defaulting on its obligations. Can anyone in Washington really be surprised that the public is noticing $85 billion in across-the-board cuts?
The House of Representatives, the Senate and Obama have all proposed budgets for 2014. But their targets for spending, revenue and deficit reduction are miles apart. It will take good faith compromise to spare the nation more fiscal foolishness. Unfortunately, compromise is a dirty word in Washington. That's what has to change.