Two seemingly-unrelated stories this morning outline how Republican-led spending cuts have reached diminishing returns. First, from New Republic, it turns out that when you cut the FAA's budget by 6% suddenly, you get airline delays:
As you probably have heard, the FAA has responded to the automatic cuts by furloughing air traffic controllers—that is, ordering them to take extra days off, without pay. With fewer controllers watching over the skies, fewer airplanes can travel at one time. The FAA says staffing shortages from the furloughs led to the delay of about 1,200 flights on Monday and another 1,000 on Tuesday. The first day of delays appear to have affected the Northeast and Southern California. Since then, delays have spread to other cities, including Tampa and Las Vegas. Overall, the interruptions actually seem less severe than some experts had predicted. But the waits are expected to get worse over the summer, once travel increases.
In an ideal world, this would shake Republican faith in sequestration as an acceptable budget policy. They’d start discussions about replacing it with some other deficit reduction plan—ideally, one that didn’t rely so exclusively on immediate and arbitrary spending cuts. This, of course, is not the way Republicans are reacting. Instead, they and their allies keep insisting that the delays are the result of Obama Administration deception and opportunism. Under the headline, “The Manufactured Sequester Crisis,” National Review’s Veronique de Rugy writes that her recent flight from Washington to New York was on time—and wonders whether, like last month’s predictions of longer security lines, the delays will turn out to be illusory. Over at the Wall Street Journal opinion page, the editors aren’t questioning whether the delays are real. Instead, they write, President Barack Obama could spare air travelers the delay by ordering the FAA to shuffle funds differently and make necessary cuts. On Capitol Hill, Republicans are making the very same argument: If air traffic is slowing down, they say, it’s because the Obama Administration wants it that way, in order to make a political point.
It's Obama's fault for spending too much money, Obama's fault for not spending enough, Obama's fault for following the law, Obama's fault for not following the law...isn't everyone tired of GOP blamestorming yet?
Then this load of crap from the Washington Post:
This year, the government will spend at least $890,000 on service fees for bank accounts that are empty. At last count, Uncle Sam has 13,712 such accounts with a balance of zero.
Right now, about 7 percent of the 202,000 government grant accounts are devoid of money. These sit on the books, costing about $5.42 per month. The service fees are the same, whether an account is full or empty.
Oh my god! Five dollars a month!
But still, one might ask, why haven't the affected agencies closed these empty accounts? Maybe because they can't afford the staff time to do it. So, yes, let's immediately suspend every other program and direct thousands of staff hours (and therefore hundreds of thousands of dollars) at this horrible problem of empty grant accounts.
Then, buried in the two pages of indignant squawking about government waste, writer David A. Fahrenthold mentions in passing that all those account fees go back to the government. That's right, the grant accounts are government accounts. So this $890,000 in "wasted" money is actually an inter-department transfer—an accounting item.
Want to cut government waste? How about starting with the $2 trillion we spent on our wars since 2001. Want to have an effective government? That's not a question Republicans, or the Washington Post, really want to answer.