The Senate is scheduled to consider a bill re-authorizing the Federal Aviation Administration today. A similar bill stalled out over the summer, largely due to a dispute about adding more long-haul flights into Reagan National Airport, according to Aviation Week. These provisions have been removed from the current bill to ease its passage.
The bill has a $35 billion price tag, with about $20 billion set aside for various upgrades to airport infrastructure, including a large-scale transition of air traffic control from radar to GPS tracking. I love GPS and can hardly remember life without it, but my GPS unit once told me a Red Lobster restaurant was sitting in the middle of the street. I hope that doesn’t happen with the new air-traffic control system.
The odd thing about this bill is the way Democrats have been pushing it: by talking up how many jobs it will “save or create.” Politico quotes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gushing, “If there was ever a jobs bill, this is it.” New York senator Chuck Schumer added, “It’s a big job creator,” while Maria Cantwell of Washington declared “aviation jobs are big business in America.”
This cheerleading led an exasperated Republican Minority Whip Jon Kyl to push aside the pom-poms and grumble, “It’s not a jobs bill. It’s a bill that helps both maintain and improve our federal aviation system in this country. I know jobs is the big thing these days, but don’t try to sell legislation that really has some other impetus or reason for being as a jobs bill if it’s really not.”
This kind of Pavlovian bell-ringing is the kind of insipid nonsense that turns people off politics. There may be arguments in favor of the FAA bill, but portraying it as $35 billion worth of jobs sprinkled from the bottomless cornucopia of government is silly… especially when all of the other Democrat promises of job creation have demonstrated their cornucopia holds nothing but rotten fruit, stale bread, and rubber checks.
President Obama’s “stimulus” spending was supposed to “create or save” millions of jobs, as you’ll recall. Instead, we got endless months of worse unemployment than Democrats claimed would result without that spending. ObamaCare was pushed as a “job creation” bill, when instead it has devoured more jobs than almost any other action of Congress in our history… and it’s still hungry. The Democrats have even tried to claim that unemployment insurance creates jobs, because the beneficiaries will spend their taxpayer loot, and jobs will spring up from the earth where those dollars fall.
Does our worse-than-broke government have $20 billion to spend on these airport upgrades, plus another $15 billion to fund FAA operations at their current levels? Rational attempts to find the answer are obscured by blathering about job creation. It’s part of the general attempt to obscure the true purpose of all the money our government spends, blending it all into a thick syrup of State-provided prosperity, so that any vote against spending is a vote against “job creation.”
If the government wants to spend money to “create jobs,” it could hire a million people to dig holes, and another million to fill them in. Stating that such a program would “create two million jobs” would tell us nothing about its purpose, efficiency, or Constitutional legitimacy. ObamaCare has created a certain number of government jobs, merely to issue those priceless waivers that allow favored business and union interests to escape from it. The worst way to analyze Big Government spending would be to consider how many jobs it “creates,” especially when we don’t consider how many it destroys, or what all those people might be doing if they didn’t work for the government.
It’s odd that a purportedly sensible bill, with bipartisan support, would be advertised with distracting rhetoric about its side effects. Hopefully Senate Republicans will base their votes on the true purpose of the $35 billion FAA re-authorization bill: helping airliners find their way to the nearest Red Lobster.