Washington is engaged in one more Chicken Little game of chicken. "The sky is falling" they cry, whipping up the fear and panic, demanding we solve the latest "crisis" by cutting taxes for the rich, cutting the things We, the People do for each other, and handing over even more of our common wealth to the already-wealthy few. Again and again we go through these phony crises, until people just roll their eyes and tune out. Wall Street appears tuned out to the default threat. No one else believes it could happen, either.
But this time people should notice that the wingnuts are serious about killing government: the Federal Aviation Administration was shut down midnight Saturday, and is still shut down. Yes, it is another Chicken Little phony crisis, but almost a hundred thousand jobs are already gone. And $200 million in tax revenue is lost each week it continues.
It was the Republicans who shut down the FAA. As a result, 4,000 FAA workers have been laid off and about 90,000 construction workers are being laid off right now. (Only air traffic control operations were spared.) I wrote about this last week, in the post The Hostage-Taking Just Keeps Coming - This Time The FAA Shuts Down,
The latest conservative hostage-taking involves a fight over unions and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) budget. Conservatives refuse to fund the FAA unless the Senate agrees to block airline and railroad unions from being able to organize. Result: the agency shuts down at midnight tonight.
The FAA's funding reauthorization bill has been held up over Republican insistence that anti-union language be included. The specific language says that any worker not voting in a union organization drive be counted as a vote not to form a union. (They are also eliminating funding for many small-town airports... in Democratic districts.) The House has passed this, the Senate refuses to, and since no bill has passed funding for the FAA dries up at midnight.
How Many Jobs?
In the Atlanta Journal-Constitution post, FAA Furlough Update II, Jamie Dupree has a (very long) list of construction projects being shut down around the country, writing:
For now, the pleas of [FAA Administrator Randy] Babbitt and other federal officials aren't having any impact on Capitol Hill, where Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate remain at odds over the renewal of the FAA bill, in what would be the 21st extension of the measure since 2007.
Yes, the debt-ceiling is a phony crisis. No, it doesn't have to happen. Yes, it is another game of chicken, being played by the Chicken Little "shock doctrine" crowd. But yes, these conservatives do want to kill our government. They mean it, they rejoice in it, and they will do it unless you add your voice to tell them to stop.
That AFL-CIO has an action call out: Tell your members of Congress the FAA needs to get up and running immediately. Republican House leaders' hostage-taking needs to stop.
Here are the details at the AFL-CIO NowBlog post, Tell Congress: Save 90,000 Jobs, Get FAA Back to Work,
More than 90,000 airport construction jobs are on the line because of the Republican shutdown over the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Not only are 4,000 FAA workers already out of their jobs, but because House Republicans refused to pass a funding authorization bill, money for airport improvements has dried up and construction workers at many airports have been sent home.
Click here to tell your members of Congress to stop the Republican hostage taking of more than 90,000 jobs and get the FAA up and running again.
Republicans grounded the FAA because they want to take away Democratic union elections for aviation and rail workers.
Congress could have passed temporary spending authority for the FAA, as it has 20 times in the past without controversy. But like their tactics on debt ceiling negotiations, Republicans are demanding their way at any cost.