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National Air Traffic Controllers Association Host Rally To End The Shutdown

Image From NATCA

Image From NATCA

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association  hosted a rally calling on lawmakers to end the government shutdown immediately. Gathering on Capitol Hill, NATCA’s leaders, alongside representatives from across the aviation community, made clear that it is not business as usual for the aviation system during this government shutdown.

“There are grave repercussions as a result of the shutdown on all aspects of the system,” said NATCA President Paul Rinaldi. “There are real people suffering real consequences as a result of this shutdown. The only way to restore the aviation system to full staffing and speed is to end it right away. This is an increasingly difficult situation that will only worsen as it drags on. The shutdown must be stopped immediately.”

The furlough of thousands of aviation safety professionals is eliminating critical layers of redundancy and safety that keep the system operating safely and efficiently. The shutdown has also interrupted the flow of hiring, training and innovation.

Manufacturing and modernization efforts have been stopped and certification processes that are critical for general aviation to thrive have been halted. Even worse, the furloughs of safety inspectors and accident investigators may put the United States in default of its treaty obligations under the Chicago Convention and the obligations of member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

“Imagine if no citizen of the United States could buy or sell a car, purchase or re-finance a home, or if the sale of any other critical goods came to a complete and grinding halt,” said Ed Bolen, President and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). “That’s what’s basically happened in business aviation – because the industry is more regulated than other industries, the shutdown has had a far more dire impact on business aviation than for other industries. As just one example of this reality, the government shutdown has led to the closure of the FAA Aircraft Registry, and as a result, aircraft cannot be purchased, sold, imported, exported, and in some cases, flown. The many small and mid-sized companies that rely on the Registry to be open and accessible are hurting, and the shutdown is hurting the industry in a host of other ways as well. Simply put, until government leaders can get the FAA reopened, an essential American industry remains on an indefinite layover.”

“Under the government shutdown, aircraft sales are unable to proceed and aircraft registrations are expiring daily without the opportunity for renewal, medical and pilot certificate applications are languishing, knowledge testing is shut down, and infrastructure is not being maintained,” said Mark Baker, President and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA).  “AOPA calls on our elected leaders to preserve the integrity of the safest air transportation system in the world and to protect our economy by immediately restoring all aviation-related activities.”

“Every day that Congress allows this shutdown to remain in place is putting the safety and efficiency of the aviation system at risk,” said Mike Perrone, President of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS). “This is unacceptable. The system is broken. It must be fixed. Congress may not be able to do its job, but that doesn’t mean we should be prevented from doing ours. I join with you today to tell Congress to end the shutdown NOW so we can all go back to work. We are all essential.”

“Airports and our aviation system have bent under the continuous strain of repeated budget crises, and we’re on the verge of breaking,” said Todd Hauptli, President of GOV for the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). “It’s time to end the current impasse and the ongoing threat caused by sequestration so that airports and our industry partners can get back to the business of operating and building the world-class aviation system our country deserves.”

“So far, there isn’t any evidence of negative impacts on the safety of U.S. aviation. However, the longer the government remains shutdown and the longer key safety staff are being prevented from doing their important work, the more we risk creating a situation where safety could be threatened,” said Capt. Sean Cassidy, First Vice President of the Airline Pilots Association Int’l. (ALPA). “Simply put, the safety of our skies is on borrowed time. The shutdown needs to end and we need to bring everyone back to work for the sake—and safety—of our crews, passengers, cargo, and the aviation industry as a whole.”

“General aviation aircraft manufacturers are already feeling significant and harmful effects from the shutdown,” said Jens Hennig, Vice President of Operations for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). “With the FAA Aircraft Registry office closed, more than 150 newly manufactured aircraft worth more than $1.9 billion will be delayed by mid-October. Our message to the nation’s political leaders is clear: End the shutdown now.”

“The impact of the government shutdown, especially the shuttering of the Federal Aviation Administration, is having negative consequences for small aviation businesses across the country,” said Tom Hendricks, President and CEO of the National Air Transportation Association (NATA).  “Every sector from experimental, general, business and commercial aviation need to be as healthy as possible in order to truly unleash economic prosperity for the entire nation.”

“Our leaders need to understand that entire local economies are built around national parks and historic sites — and unlike federal workers, there is no mechanism for those small businesses and their employees to get back pay once the shutdown is over,” said Jonathan Grella, senior vice president for public affairs at the U.S. Travel Association (USTA). “We’re hearing stories of real financial pain from all over the country, and we’ve been posting them on USTravel.org in the hope of encouraging policymakers to move swiftly to end this.”

(NATCA posted images from the rally on their Facebook page here)

“Negotiate” means talking about ALL options

Golly.  The GOP still hasn’t figured out what’s driving the federal debt?  Let’s try… lack of revenues.

Federal revenues, as a percentage of the country’s economy, are at the lowest point since Harry Truman was President.  (And that was before Congress enacted Medicare, and added Medicare payroll taxes to the federal revenue mix.)

Corporate taxes, in particular, are at record-low levels.  (Just look at the olive-green areas on this graph.)

Federal Revenue Sources as percentage of GDP

The GOP insists on “concessions” from President Obama, in exchange for not driving America’s economy totally off the cliff.

They are insisting on cuts to Social Security and Medicare before they will consider acting on the debt limit.  “My goal here is to have a serious conversation about those things that are driving the deficit and driving the debt up,” according to House Speaker John Boehner.

But will they discuss restoring revenues, as a way of cutting the deficit?  Not a chance, the GOP says.


Is Speaker Boehner really contemplating a “conversation”?  (Or is he just expecting the Democrats to surrender?)


See the data I used in my graph here.

GOP in Congress: Keeping — or BREAKING? — Promises

Crossed fingers ICan someone please explain to me… how can the GOP be simultaneously

  • planning to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits
  • holding sacrosanct the government’s payments to bondholders?

What, exactly, is the big difference?  For Social Security and Medicare, people have paid money into the system, with the expectation that they would receive an agreed-upon return (benefits) at a later date.  Just the same way that bondholders have loaned money, with the expectation that they would receive an agreed-upon return (principal plus interest) at a later date.

Would bondholders be happy if House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan suggested trimming bond repayments between 15% and 45%?  So why should people who have paid into Social Security accept those kinds of cuts?

Let’s see… if Ryan reduced federal bond payments by 15%, wouldn’t that free up about $54 billion a year?  Wait… wouldn’t that more than cover the $40 billion of cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program that Republicans want to make?

Pediatricians at the Boston Medical Center have studied the interaction between hunger and health, and yesterday announced that SNAP was “one of America’s most cost-effective and successful public health programs in the country” and by improving children’s health, SNAP actually “saves society money.”  Except that Republicans want to cut children’s health insurance, too.  At this point, you halfway expect House leadership to start quoting Jonathan Swift.  But I digress.

Or if Ryan reduced bond payments by 45%, wouldn’t that free up about $162 billion a year?  Which would more than cover the revenue cost of not returning to Clinton-era tax rates.

But the GOP isn’t suggesting that bondholders should absorb those sorts of cuts…oh, no, that would be unthinkable.  So why would they think that Social Security recipients are fair game?

You pay your money in, you expect to get it back as promised.

Here’s what I think will happen, during the next few weeks of government shutdown/debt-limit crisis.  I think the Republicans will stop using Obamacare as their line in the sand/can’t compromise issue.  I think they will switch to insisting on some sort of “Entitlement Reform” in exchange for not driving our economy totally off the cliff.  And “Entitlement Reform” is Tea Party lingo for making cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

At one level, I guess it’s fair to lump Social Security and Medicare into the category of “entitlements” – you pay your money in, you’re entitled to get it back as promised.

Just like the US Treasury’s bondholders are entitled to get their money back as promised.

I’m wondering how the GOP is going to explain the difference between those promises, over the next few weeks.  Can’t imagine what rhetoric they will come up with, to justify holding bondholders harmless while trying to cut Social Security benefits.


Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter Cosponsors Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act

Carol Shea-Porter_Official.2010-300x288Stands up for New Hampshire workers and families facing uncertainty

WASHINGTON, DC – For the first time in 17 years, thousands of New Hampshire workers face furloughs due to a federal government shutdown. To ensure these workers are not unfairly punished due to Washington gridlock, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) has cosponsored the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act, bipartisan legislation that would ensure all federal employees receive back pay for the duration the shutdown.

“More than 800,000 hardworking public servants will lose their pay because Tea Party Members of Congress refuse to fund the government,” Shea-Porter said. “Congress should pass a funding bill now along with this common sense legislation.”

In New Hampshire, 1,520 men and women at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard have been furloughed, hundreds of New Hampshire National Guardsmen and women have faced furloughs, and New Hampshire’s top federal prosecutor has furloughed almost half of his staff.

Government employees have already shouldered a number of past deficit reduction measures and continue to endure the pain of sequestration. These hardworking public servants have mortgages to pay, kids to put through college, and retirement savings to build. Retroactive pay has always been provided after past shutdowns, and providing that assurance again would be a step toward regaining the trust of the nation’s scientists, engineers, veterans, medical researcher, National Guard, and park rangers.

The federal government shutdown costs America $300 million per day. The Senate passed a continuing resolution that would fund the government at existing levels for six weeks, giving Congress time to work out a long term fiscal plan. To date, House Republicans have refused to allow a vote on the Senate legislation in order to demonstrate their opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

GOP Hissy-Fit Hurts Federal Workers And Their Families

Today is day three of the official government shutdown.  No, this is not a government slowdown or slim down, this is a government shutdown.  There are thousands of workers who are forced to go to work knowing full well they may never be paid for their work.  One example of this is our nations air traffic controllers.

Think back a minute to what happened when the air traffic controllers were furloughed as part of the sequester.  Just furloughing 5% of the controllers per day resulted in massive delays throughout the country.  Now imagine what would happen if all of those air traffic controllers were told not to come in because the government is closed?  No airplanes would be flying, people would be stranded throughout the world, and our economy would grind to a halt.   This is why even though the government is shutdown air traffic controllers and others must continue to work.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi condemned Congress for forcing the shutdown:

“It is unacceptable that thousands of our aviation safety professionals have been forced to stay home due to partisan posturing in Congress.”

“I implore Congress to reach an agreement to end this shutdown, which is hurtful to our nation’s aviation system, our economy and the American people.”

During the shutdown, air traffic controllers are working without pay, but essential support staff specialists have been furloughed.  Rinaldi said this is akin to a surgeon performing an operation without any staff to prep the room, clean the equipment or provide support during the surgery.

This is not the case for the 25,000 federal LIUNA construction workers. Although most military men and women have not been sent home, LIUNA’s National Guard District Council represents over 5,000 dual-status technicians, military and civilian, are subject to furloughs. Several thousand more LIUNA members working for the Indian Health Service have also been furloughed.

Below are some links to local press about LIUNA members being sent home due to the government shutdown:

All of these workers and hundreds of thousands more are now sitting at home waiting for Congress to get their act together and reopen the government.  All of this could have been avoided if the House would have sent the Senate a clean continuing resolution.  Instead the House decided to shut the government down.  There is no doubt that this shutdown is the fault of those in leadership in the U.S. House.

Right now millions of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.  The GOP Leadership in the House has determined that federal workers can go without.   They shut down the entire government because they want to repeal a law that has already gone into effect.  It is truly sad that our elected leaders are putting working families into potential financial ruin over an ideological debate they cannot win.

At a sit-in style protest at Speaker Boehner’s office, Melissa Roseboro a federal contract worker at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, had this to say:

“As it is, I am barely able to pay my rent and put food on the table with what I make at McDonald’s in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.”

“I am forced to rely on public assistance to get by.  But this shutdown is making it impossible for me to even scrape by. Every day the government is shut down is another day I don’t have any money to feed my family. So we are here to ask House Republicans, who continue to get paid while playing politics with my job and my wages, to help us pay our bills.  My rent was due yesterday. It’s not right, and I need Congress to end this shutdown and let us work.”

AFGE President David Cox released this statement on the GOP obstructionism over the Affordable Care Act:

“The seriousness of refusing the fund the government seems to elude the members of the House who maneuvered us into this lockout.  It’s anybody’s guess what their real goals may be:  Do they enjoy creating chaos?  Do they enjoy inflicting additional hardship on the working- and middle-class employees who provide services to the American public?  Do they hate the notion of letting the uninsured buy affordable insurance, or just hate the idea that the government is helping them do so? “

“Or is this just an elaborate way to destroy the most popular and successful government programs, Social Security and Medicare? “

“President Obama has promised that he will not negotiate to end this crisis, and we strongly support that position.  Recent similar standoffs have been resolved largely on the backs of federal employees, taking away our pay, retirement, and jobs.  This time, we expect the administration to hold firm, and resist the temptation to give in by cutting federal retirement or Social Security.  There is no justification for using federal employees to pay ransom.”

The longer this government shutdown goes on the harder it will be to forget as we move into the next election.

Translating from TeaPartyese: What “negotiate” really means

Stahlwille ratchet head (1/2 SQ)Don’t let them fool you.

When GOP Congressmen say they “just want to negotiate” – what they’re really saying is “we’re going to have it our way”.

And when they talk about “compromise” – they’re really talking about “ratcheting it down even further.”

You know how a ratchet works, right?  When you turn it, the screw can only go one way.  And the Tea Party’s position is: government can only get smaller.

They’re yelling about the federal deficit – and accumulated federal debt – but the only “solution” they’re willing to entertain is to cut spending.  Have you heard anybody suggest raising revenues, lately?

The fact is: as a share of the nation’s economy, federal tax revenues are at almost-record lows. Yes, they were lower, back when Harry Truman was President – but that was before Medicare was enacted in 1965.

Federal Tax Revenues as Percentage of GDP

And it looks like the GOP may have already won the federal budget game.

Remember 2011, when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan came out with his budget“$4 trillion of cuts over decade

Remember how radical that budget seemed, back then?  How far to the right?  How extreme the cuts appeared?

Now, take a closer look at the “continuing resolution” passed by the Democratically-controlled Senate last week, in a last-ditch effort to avoid the government shutdown.

Yeah, the same “continuing resolution” that the House GOP won’t send to an up-do-down vote, without further concessions.

Funding levels in that “continuing resolution” are about 10% less than what Chairman Ryan proposed, back in 2011.

And it came from the Democrats.

And it’s still not enough for the GOP.

Ratchet, ratchet, ratchet.


Read more about how the Senate’s continuing resolution compares to the Ryan budget here.

See the tax revenue data that my chart is based on here.




AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Republican Hostage Taking

As of today, it is clear that the Republican Party and the Tea Party have become one and the same when it comes to federal fiscal policy. House Republicans have decided that they will shut down critical public services, stiff public servants, hold America’s credit rating hostage and kill off jobs because they are upset that President Obama decisively defeated Mitt Romney last November. That some Republicans are participating in this fiasco against their better judgment does not obscure their responsibility. All responsible voices must speak and act against policy making by hostage taking.

It’s bad enough that Republicans’ intellectually dishonest austerity policies have starved the United States of the public investment necessary for shared prosperity in the future. Sequester was and remains a complicated name for a disastrous policy. But somehow Republicans have managed to go from pushing irresponsible policies to something even worse.

Shutting down the government would weaken demand, reduce employment and roil markets. Punishing federal workers and taxpayers to prove a point is a temper tantrum worthy of a four year old, not a policy choice of a responsible political party.

We stand with President Obama as he rejects unequivocally all Republican hostage taking. And we agree with the President that it would be a disastrous precedent for our democracy if we have any negotiations over the debt ceiling.

This is the moment for working people to bring pressure on behalf of a shared, popular and responsible agenda.  Repeal the job-killing sequester. Reject any cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits.  Protect food aid for the poor.  And create jobs and raise hundreds of billions of dollars to invest in our future by ending all tax subsidies for outsourcing.

Transportation Trades Department; Government Shutdown Impacts Transportation System and Jobs

Transportation Trade Department Logo
Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD) President Edward Wytkind issues this statement on the impact of a government shutdown on transportation:

“This is a dark day for our nation as extremists in Congress have managed to lock out 800,000 federal workers who have done nothing wrong, and have decided to hold Americans hostage to their destructive tactics.

 “We’ve seen this irresponsible act before and we know that government shutdowns impact our transportation system, its users and the public and private sector employees who hold the system together.

 “Washington’s destructive politics make it impossible to run a national transportation system. As federal transportation officials have announced, most grant-making operations are suspended because the dedicated professionals needed to distribute these vital investments will not be on the job. This means that critical resources for all modes of transport will not flow in a timely fashion as the shutdown gets deeper into the new fiscal year. This could have a severe impact on the states and their transportation authorities and private contractors.

 “The government shutdown will send home FAA aviation safety inspectors who are responsible for oversight, certification and surveillance of both commercial and general aviation—from overseeing foreign-based facilities that maintain our aircraft to certifying pilots and flight instructors. In addition, several thousand other aviation safety professionals who directly run our National Airspace System have been furloughed. And here we go again: the critical work of advancing the Next Generation (NextGen) air traffic management system will be suspended again, as it was during the partial FAA shutdown in 2011.

 “Make no mistake, an extended shutdown, especially this one estimated to cost our economy up to $10 billion a week, will have a negative impact on vital transportation programs. And the blackmail tactics of a minority bloc of politicians will deal another blow to working people struggling in an already slow economic recovery. This will be the message to our members in days ahead.”

Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA, On the Federal Government Shutdown

Washington, D.C. (October 1, 2013) – “It is exasperating that the U.S. House of Representatives has become so tied in political knots that it can no longer do its job and pass legislation to fund programs and services it has already authorized and to prevent a shutdown of the federal government.

“The radical Tea Party Republicans are the tail wagging the dog. Their extremism puts our economy at risk and doing so for political gain is simply un-American.

“As an organization that proudly represents more than 25,000 federal employees – workers who protect our national security, provide critical health care services to veterans and Native Americans, keep our skies safe and our parks clean, and of whom at least 5,000 are currently serving their country in the military – we appeal to House leadership to put an end to this dangerous circus. And Congress must then make the federal employees who have been victims whole by providing full back pay.”

UAW President Bob King on government shutdown

“Today is a sad day for working Americans and our democracy. Tea Party Republicans continued their extremist ways and shutdown the federal government in an attempt to implement their far, right-wing agenda. Congressional Republicans’ insistence on denying health care coverage to millions of Americans by undermining the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is immoral as well as practically futile. By refusing to fund the government they have ignored the wishes of the American people and have placed millions of jobs and economic recovery in jeopardy.

“House Republicans have done it again. In order to please the far right, they are taking money out of the pockets of working Americans, and costing our nation jobs. Any manufactured crisis that further slows growth and costs jobs is unacceptable. If the right wing in Congress were serious about preventing harm to Americans, they would pass a responsible budget and end sequestration, which is estimated to reduce employment by 900,000 in the next fiscal year. The House should pass a clean, temporary budget and debt limit increase without partisan wrangling, and work with President Obama and the Senate to strengthen our country.

“Along with millions of other workers, the livelihood of many UAW members is now in jeopardy because of this extremism. UAW members perform federally funded research at our nation’s colleges and universities, determine eligibility for social safety net programs, provide legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, build next generation vehicles for our military, and much more. A government shutdown harms all Americans now and in the future. The UAW stands ready to work with all who are serious about strengthening our economy and creating a brighter future.”

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