Friday, September 16, 2011

Common Sense, Almost

U.S. President Barack Obama today signed a bill providing temporary, four-month funding to the Federal Aviation Administration. That's a relief; it was set to expire today, which would have resulted in a partial shutdown of the crucial agency. Just like the 16-day FAA partial shutdown this summer that furloughed 4,000 FAA workers - not including air traffic controllers - and idled 70,000 construction workers at a time of stubborningly high unemployment.

The bill also extends funding for U.S. highways through March.

This, it would seem, is a triumph for common sense. But is it?

The latest FAA funding extention was the 22nd time a temporary patch was put in place when the House of Representatives and the Senate passed separate bills that they could not harmonize in joint committee. This means the drama will happen all over again in January 2012.

The smooth functioning of one of the world's largest and most crucial aviation systems is one of many things falling victim to Washington gridlock. The ease of movement, safety and efficiency of millions of American and international leisure and business travelers is put at unnecessary, unwanted risk when posturing politicians can't agree.

Next year is an election year. Things don't look good for the triumph for common sense - or the ease of travel for people flying to, from and around the United States.

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