Washington, D.C., seems to be a city that is in perpetual crisis. Now the U.S. government is in conniptions over the “fiscal cliff.” Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke coined that metaphor to describe the tax increases and automatic spending cuts that kick in on January 2 unless Democrats and Republicans somehow tame the $16 trillion national debt.
Presidency of George W. Bush
The divided U.S. government edged closer to the so-called the “fiscal cliff,” a combination of tax increases and automatic spending cuts that will be imposed on January 2 unless political parties reach agreement on a package to reduce the country’s $16 trillion national debt. With 25 days remaining before the measures take effect, the parties were at a stalemate.
An economic impact analysis commissioned by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) predicts that more than one million jobs will be lost in the aerospace and defense industry, if the U.S. Congress fails to reach an agreement that would prevent automatic government spending cuts.
Defense spending cuts of some $350 billion over the next decade contained in the new debt-limit legislation passed by the U.S. Congress correspond with the numbers expected from an earlier goal advanced by President Obama. But the Pentagon leadership described the potential of $600 billion more in automatic spending cuts as disastrous.
The Essential Air Service (EAS) program could see a significant boost next year once FAA reauthorization makes its way through conference committee. So far, the House of Representatives has passed a bill that includes an increase in EAS funding to $200 million from $136 million. Meanwhile, the Senate Appropriations Committee has voted to raise the amount to $175 million and the Administration’s budget calls for the same increase.
House aviation subcommittee chairman Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) has joined Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the full House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, in opposing an Obama Administration plan to institute user fees to balance the FAA budget starting in Fiscal Year 2010.
Current acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell announced on Tuesday that Lynne Osmus will become acting FAA Administrator when he departs the agency on Friday next week. The announcement came one day after Osmus was named acting Deputy Administrator by the outgoing Bush Administration. She is currently the FAA Assistant Administrator for Security and Hazardous Materials, a position she has held since July 2003.
When President Bush signed a bill extending FAA taxes and programs for six months, the whole FAA reauthorization imbroglio landed in the laps of the new President and the new Congress.
With Congress out of town on vacation, FAA reauthorization and the question of user fees remained in limbo.
The FAA has been operating on funding and rogram extensions since Sept. 30, 2007, even though the House passed its version of FAA reauthorization last September 30. A Senate version has never been approved.
Although the presidential elections will not take place until November next year, the voting public can expect the Bush Administration and members of Congress to gear up and steadily move forward on domestic programs that will have the most influence on voters when it is time to cast ballots. Obviously, President Bush wants to be reelected and, at the same time, retain party control over the Senate and the House of Representatives.