The politics of sequestration cuts have forced some difficult decisions.

Here’s one that cropped up last week and it’s still triggering debate.

The choices are:

A.) Stop funding $477,000 in air controller support for a regional airport that is the nation’s busiest over a one-week span, drawing some 10,000 planes and more than half a million aviation enthusiasts from around the world.

B.) Ground one plane and save $60 million to $100 million.

Silly us, no wonder we aren’t in government. We would have chosen Plan B and grounded President Barack Obama’s flight to sub-Saharan Africa later this month and pocketed the change.

That would have neatly covered the bill for FAA air controllers to go to staff the skies at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual AirVenture at Oshkosh.

We know, of course, these are apples and oranges. The FAA is over here in one part of government and is trying hard to make its goal of $637 million this fiscal year.

Obama’s executive branch is not immune either, remember. The administration cut White House tours earlier this year — disappointing hundreds of youngsters and saving a pittance.

And we understand from press reports this week that the White House has also canceled a Tanzanian safari that had been planned for the president and first lady on the African trip because it would have been too expensive.

The safari “would have required the president’s special counter-assault team to carry sniper rifles with high caliber rounds that could neutralize cheetahs, lions or other animals if they became a threat,” the Washington Post reported.

That would have been a remarkable photo op for news organizations, of course, so it’s good to see the White House showing SOME budget restraint.

But let’s put this in perspective from here in Wisconsin.

As we see it:

Going on a safari — or even on a public relations tour to three countries in Africa — is not a core job of the president.

Keeping the skies safe over an airport is a core job of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Yet with less than two months to go before Oshkosh began welcoming fliers from around the world, the FAA basically issued an extortion note to the EAA — pony up $500K for 87 air controllers or they don’t come.

Faced with canceling the massive annual air show, the EAA reluctantly caved in and promised to pay the ransom note under protest. “Let me be clear,” said EAA Chairman Jack Pelton, “we have consistently regarded the FAA’s move as holding AirVenture ... hostage this year.”

“Hostage” is exactly the right word. You don’t cancel the crown jewel of the nation’s air shows on a moment’s notice. The FAA is playing a political card on the sequestration cuts and playing it poorly.

The fact is the EAA AirVenture show is not only a premier air show, it is a tourism boon to the state that generates more than $110 million in economic benefits to the Oshkosh area.

The FAA would have you believe it has some great additional expenses to cover for the air show, but that is simply not true. Along with taxes on commercial air flights, federal aviation fuel taxes paid by general aviation fliers pay for air control operations and FAA operations. As Wisconsin Rep. Tom Petri put it, “Given the amount of fuel taxes this (AirVenture) generates, maybe the FAA should be cutting the EAA a check.”

Petri, other state representatives and 28 U.S. senators are pushing the FAA to reconsider its actions. The FAA is posing a new tax on general aviation without congressional authorization, threatening Wisconsin’s tourism industry and playing a game of chicken with sequestration cuts — all of which are inappropriate and should be rebuffed by Congress.

(17) comments

Maynard McKillen

I see the Journal-Times Board, that bravely anonymous cabal of blowhards and idiots, has muddled the issue, again.

The Administration “forced” Congress to invent sequestration as a “solution” to the latter's monumental ignorance, ineptitude and corruption? Entertain us awhile with that fairy tale. So quick to let Congress off the hook? Petri, Ryan and other irresponsible Republicans who no longer represent their constituencies, having adopted a pay-to-play mentality (whoever pays us the most gets the special-interest legislation they want), have long brainlessly squawked about the need for limited government and played their part to starve it of the revenue needed to maintain the nation's infrastructure, all the while granting unearned entitlements to those businesses and already affluent freeloaders who don't deserve and haven't earned them. Well, such idiot congressmen have sown the wind, to paraphrase Hosea 8:7, and now the rest of us reap the whirlwind.

No Republican can complain about the FAA's move, this real world consequence of the idea of limited government, unless they have also protested the war on the middle class being waged by the monied elite, who have tilted the economic playing field in their favor by purchasing Congressmen, rewritten the rules to exempt themselves from having to pay the price of living in the world's premier democracy, and now whine because Wittman Regional Airport, not a private-use only facility for members only, last time I checked, comes at a cost that they should have gladly paid for years out of gratitude to the nation.

The FAA, readers may not know, also charged for their services at another aviation event, Sun 'n Fun down in Florida. Welcome, my elephant worshipping friends, to the world of limited government you have so long dreamed of and prayed for.

Doubtless the Journal Times Board took a similar principled stand about the chief executive's use of Air Force One when Bush flew over New Orleans and the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast on the taxpayer's dime. Or do I detect the odor of partisan hypocrisy?

Ground Air Force One? Okay, let foreign policy be waged by such champions of democracy as Putin, eh? A little American Isolationism, the bury-our-head-in-the-sand school of thought, worked real well in Iraq as I, uh...ooops, bad analogy...Doubtless the Journal-Times Board took a similar principled stand on that colossal fiasco, too. You're not seriously suggesting foreign affairs are best left to chief executives with an “R” in parentheses after their names, are you? Can you say “Arms for Hostages”, or “Iran-Contra” three times fast?

Let's look at the cost of sending the President to Africa on, say, a guided missile frigate or some other Navy ship, or maybe an Air Force jet. Go ahead, brave bean counters of the moment, tell us how much will be saved...

I agree the safari is needless froth. The trip to Africa is not. Funny how Republicans conveniently forget who our top diplomat is when the need to score political points arises.

Oh, and this hogwash about the aviation fuel taxes? As far back as April 23rd, 2007, the FAA, with a Bush appointee at the helm, released, Fact Sheet– Impact of Administration’s Financing Proposal on General Aviation.

Here are a few gems from the document:

The allocation found that GA drives approximately 16 percent of the costs of air traffic services. Nearly 10 percent is related to high performance GA aircraft such as corporate jets, while 6 percent is related to piston GA aircraft.
In contrast, GA currently contributes just over 3 percent of the taxes that flow into the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.
The proposal would increase GA’s share of the user taxes and fees to 11 percent — with 10 percent coming from jets and other high performance aircraft and only 1 percent from piston users. While this is higher than GA’s current share, it is still well below their share of the costs. This is because the Administration’s proposal would have the general fund pay for the costs of towers at airports with less than 100,000 commercial enplanements. These towers primarily serve the GA community.
We listened to the GA community’s input that fuel taxes were the most efficient and least disruptive way to recover costs from GA users.
It is important to keep the proposed fuel tax increase in perspective. Federal fuel taxes currently average approximately 1.5 percent of the total operating cost of a GA plane. Under the Administration’s proposal the average federal tax burden would rise to just under 5 percent of operating costs. (This is similar to the federal fuel tax as a percentage of operating costs for automobiles.) In other words, total operating costs would increase roughly 3 percent.
The last adjustment to the GA fuel tax rate was in 1990. Simply adjusting the fuel tax rates for inflation would result in rates of roughly $0.36 per gallon for jet fuel and $0.32 per gallon for aviation gasoline. However, these rates would still not cover the air traffic control costs that GA activity drives.

So the fuel tax isn't high enough to make GA pay its fair share of the costs it incurs, no matter what volume of traffic may exist anywhere at any time.

This “editorial” was a sorry excuse for an editorial. It is a tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.


Maynard - Nice rant to bad you don't know what you are talking about!

The Administration “forced” Congress to invent sequestration as a “solution” to the latter's monumental ignorance, ineptitude and corruption?
The Sequestration was OBAMA'S IDEA! Perhaps just


Perhaps doing SOME Research on your part is needed try this google, Obama supports sequestration. Facts must really suck when you don't know what you are talking about!

President Obama on the sequester cuts - November 21, 2011

“My message to them is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one.

President Obama on the sequester cuts - February 19, 2013

Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.

Read more:

Obama’s fanciful claim that Congress ‘proposed’ the sequester

Lastly, if you can read!

Oct. 25, 2012
“So when you combine the Bush tax cuts expiring, the sequester in place, the commitment of both myself and my opponent — at least Governor Romney claims that he wants to reduce the deficit — but we’re going to be in a position where I believe in the first six months we are going to solve that big piece of business,” he said.

“It will probably be messy. It won’t be pleasant. But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs,” Obama said


RJT, you know how it goes when bureaucrats are told that they get any amount less than last years amount + 5%, even in recession/depressions. You backed ever school referendum ever dreamt up. Pushing the NEA line of "class will have to be held in closets". And don't forget that sports activities will have to be cut, without a mention of the bloated staff that grew with the increase of children, but has never deceased with less children. The stats are easy to find, but when you are blinded by ideology, you just DON'T CARE, let alone not be able to handle the truth.

I see that the RJT understands that it needs to stop peeing off all Conservatives to stay alive and throw them a bone once in awhile. If a Conservative had written this article, they would have mentioned that THE SEQUESTER CUTS WERE OBAMA's IDEA. Obama invented the use of the word for the budgetary process. Lookup the term in the dictionary and it says "seize - isolate - impound". Any thoughts on why Obama chose that particular word RJT? I would say that he is throwing it back into our face with malice. But once again, you missed the real story/point.


It's really simple to figure out granny and her ilk. She won't respond to any of the questions posed here because she doesn't have any answers.

She and her ilk are just trained to respond to anything bad that is said about Obama while he busily hands out free stuff to granny and her crowd.

If Obama has to think about anything serious, that means he will slow down on handing out free stuff. Something that granny and pals cannot tolerate.

Rich the pilot not a rich pilot

No I don't know how much the EAA makes off this event.
Why don't you tell us?
Then tell us how much they give away to students and please tell us how much money is spent in the way of pure profit to the good people in Oshkosh.
And tell us how much money is paid out to local college kids that come there and bust their butts in the heat and humidity working to make some money so they can go to college next fall.
Then tell us how much is made by the people that work in the motels and restaurants.
And please tell us how tax money the FAA collects off the fuel that airplanes use while going to from and while at Oshkosh.
you can bet your sweet granny a$$ it is more than 500,000 thousand dollars. So what is your real complaint, other than seeing rich, successful people gather and enjoy their work and hobby and spending their money in Oshkosh.
Did you ever ride in an airplane?
Who do you think sponsored the scholarship that the pilot used to go to college?
Who do you think gave that pilot his first airplane ride that inspired him to pursue his love of aviation and turn it into a career?
I don't think your anger has allowed you to think your stance through very well.


Rich...Great post. Anyone who has ever been to the EAA Convention in Oshkosh takes away a very positive observation of excellent behavior, cleanliness of the grounds, and the ultra professional management of operations. I challenge anyone who is in doubt to attend the EAA Convention. You will come away with a very positive attitude.


Granny is just going through another of her class envoy tantrums! If so concerned about the fiscal climate of Wisconsin, why did she move to Florida to beat the high taxes here. I live here, and I never complain about what happens in her state of Florida! Granny, send some tax money please.


Hey, Captain, don't let facts get in the way of a good narrative. I would love to know where you learned that 60% of AOPA members are Republican. But that's not even the most egregious point in your post. To wit:

The sequester was Obama's idea. Completely, Totally.

And this straw-man argument that Congress favors ATC over other groups is simply ludicrous. The U.S government spends over $745 billion on 85(!) welfare programs alone.

Contrast that with what the government spends on FAA funding (a large part of which is covered by taxes on aviation fuel). The FAA is asking for, get this, $9.7 billion for 2013.

Now, I'm not great at math, but $9.5 billion sure seems to be a lot less than $745 billion.

We are one of the most generous nation on the face of the earth. We rank 5th in the World Giving Index ranking, with 64% of the people in this country giving to help others. I hardly think that level of giving qualifies for a Bible thumping lecture.

Add to that, pilots are some of the most giving with their time and money. Just take a look at the pilot organizations here and then come back and tell me we are some rich fat cats who "step on the backs of the poor."

So please, continue to come here and say things that you can't back up with any credible facts. Meanwhile we'll continue to not be ashamed of ourselves.

Rich the pilot not a rich pilot


Captain Joe
Captain Joe

Really folks, is it not obvious that AOPA is 60% Republican? The Republican's demanded the sequester and the administration had to administer it, like duh, that is what administration means, administer! Haven't your people in Congress not already favored Air Traffic Control and thus the wealthier public that flies on the airlines and also in GA, over say, people who have too little to eat, students who need lower debt and tuition, and on and on. And of course you people are Christians. Did you ever read what Jesus said about the wealthy and powerful versus the poor and powerless. You should be ashamed of yourselfs.


Seriouly "Chicago Politics" at work here. Our president's administration has a great track record in using taxpayer money to bludgeon political opponents. Would have thought the new star of progressive politics, Tammy Baldwin, would have used her vast influence to support the people of Oshkosh. Guess I thought wrong.


granny: Do have any facts to support what you're saying or are you just spewing mindlessly? If you have facts, bring them forward. Otherwise, the FAA's mission of safety means they should go where the airplanes are. It's a public airport.

Urban Pioneer

Why should the American taxpayers be subsidizing luxury vacations for Michelle and the girls? If there is some real legit reason for Prez Obama to visit these countries that's one consideration..but Michelle is on her own. She seems to think she is the Queen of Sheba, rather than the first lady. This isn't White House China paid for with donors $$ it's real taxpayer dollars, in a time where slight cuts are being made. The Prez is tone deaf on this issue! Maybe Jon Stewart will go after this..and watch Prez ZERO approval numbers drop another 5-10 points.

granny grits

Do you have any idea how much money the EAA makes on Oshkosh? Further, do you have any idea how wealthy the Poberezny family has become through this endeavor?

Why should taxpayers subsidize the EAA?


granny. Shut the event down to be sure. We have so much better things to spend the taxpayers money on. After all, we got more important things to attend to. Like flying in special windows for the president's African vacation. After all why shouldn't the obamas become wealthy? If the Poberexny family can be wealty, then darn it, so should the obamas! And, heck with the EAA, we got Rudy the red hawk and bryan Albrecht to spend our money on. That's some real important stuff. Yeah, the EAA means nothing to Oshkosh and the aircraft industry. Shut the darn thing down. Them darn airplanes are just rich people's toys anyway.


Once again as expected, our little wealth envy liberal has to spout off about someone else making more money then she does. The unfairness of it all!! I'm not sure if she is more envious of Paul P's income (much greater than hers) or of his abilities (much greater than hers) to prosper an enterprise?

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