With the dust still settling over the bruising debt ceiling fight, it must have been wearying to the general public to turn on the network news last night and see the lead story about the leftover fight in Washington over full funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. This was obviously a managed “story-of-the-day” for Washington Democrats. Obama made it the centerpiece of his public remarks preceding his cabinet meeting, and on Capitol Hill leading Democrats from both chambers breathlessly took turns berating House Republicans and, significantly, the news media, for the sin of asking questions with a seeming Republican bias.
FAA workers are being furloughed and several projects stopped, all because those nasty, Tea Party extremistTM House Republicans won’t simply do a “clean” extension of FAA funding. Instead, those evil terroristTM House Republicans insist on cutting wasteful subsidies for rural airports. The House passed an FAA funding bill that kept everything running except for some of these subsidies, but Senate Democrats refused to go along.
What this really reveals is a sign of the Democrats increasing panic and desperation, and the fact that Republicans are now positioned for prolonged trench warfare to cut spending, one program and subsidy at a time. Democrats will fight to the death for every spending program, and will attempt to exact maximum attention and pain for Republicans for each one. Expect more such coordinated outrage from Washington Democrats in the months/years ahead. They have to, to rally their dispirited base. A compliant media will happily play their adjunct role and get with the script (I think the media was caught a bit by surprise yesterday, and didn’t get the talking points memo), with footage of people hurt by budget cuts. It is going to be hard slogging.
In this particular case, Republicans are in a great position. The House has adjourned and left town. Reporters are eager to follow with their own vacations. Democrats won’t be able to keep this story going for very long. But get used to this kind of managed story line: Democrats are desperate to discredit the Tea Party and House Republicans. That’s all you need to know about everything they are doing and saying right now.
P.S. Years ago someone out in California outsmarted the personalized license plate censors, who always look at every permutation of a proposed personalized plate (even looking at them in mirror and backwards) to prevent anything “inappropriate” from making it onto a plate. Someone managed to slip by what appeared to be a plate of bureaucratic pride: “FAA Q”. This subtle play on words ironically describes exactly the attitude Washington Democrats have for taxpayers right now. How fitting.