It’s interesting that the FAA got its money replaced just as Congress was about to leave for a week’s recess. Most of our elected representatives usually fly back home. You don’t suppose ... nah, that wouldn’t have had anything to do with it. I’m sure the possibility of their own personal flight delays never once entered one congressperson’s or senator’s mind. Forget I even mentioned it.
Instead, we probably need to focus on what happens when official Washington returns. That’s when every federal agency that had so much as a farthing cut from its budget will demand equal treatment with the FAA.
The first salvos have already been fired as members of both parties have criticized Congress for letting other cuts survive while flight delays are a thing of the past.
President Obama has thrown down the gauntlet for replacing lost Head Start and Meals-on-Wheels funding. The Food and Drug Administration basically says to get ready for E. coli illnesses because there won’t be enough inspectors. And the U.S. Geological Survey has warned that the sequester cuts might hamper its efforts to predict flooding and droughts.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know We the People fund such a thing as a way to predict flooding and droughts. Given the current overflow of the Red River banks and what’s happening in the Mississippi Valley, I’m not sure those methods were all that great to begin with.
Speaking of the Red River, you may recall that about this time every year there is a news story about it. Fargo, N.D., is the most prominent town attached to the river. And, like clockwork, in April citizens of that city are shown on the national news filling copious quantities of sandbags to stem the overflow.
I mention this because back in college a young lady of my acquaintance was from Fargo. She talked then (and this was more than a few years ago) about getting out of school for about a week every spring to, you guessed it, fill sandbags because the Red River was flooding.
I have two questions: If the river is going to overflow each year, why do we need a program to predict that? And second, given that same premise, why don’t the powers-that-be fix the problem? I’m not certain, but my guess is, Fargonians aren’t paying for all those yearly sandbags and all that manpower by their lonesome.
But I digress. The subject is restoring sequester cuts. In addition to last week’s FAA replenishment, I think Congress pretty much funded most of the defense spending, or at least gave that department some flexibility. But most every other agency has to fend for itself.
I’m thinking that once Congress returns, every single federal program will suddenly be vital to the country’s safety or well-being.
A quick search of the Internet turned up some of those programs. To wit: $505,000 to promote specialty hair and beauty products for cats and dogs; $27 million to teach Moroccans how to design and make pottery; $300,000 to encourage Americans to eat caviar; $1.2 million to determine whether elderly Americans would benefit from playing the video game World of Warcraft ... or not; $750,000 on a new soccer field for Guantanamo Bay detainees; $175,587 to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior; $2.6 million to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly and one I’m trying to get in on — $666,905 to conduct a study on the benefits of watching reruns on television.
Alas, that was just the tip of the fiscal iceberg. The lists are long and varied. I should mention here that I didn’t actually find all these as line items in the federal budget. (I was afraid of horrors I might uncover and wanted to sleep at night.) But they did seem to come from reliable sources.
Chances are, every one of those programs would have a defender willing to swear each is essential to enriching the lives of all Americans. Bottom line? Don’t look for the sequester to save much money.
Oh, and if something comes up about the Bill Lewis Debt Relief and Caribbean Vacation Program, just ignore it. I assure you it’s vital and absolutely a superb use of tax dollars.
Bill Lewis is a freelance writer in Marietta.