It’s No Surprise, Congress And Sequestration               
One Woman’s Opinion
  By – Sheri de Grom 

Congress continued to play the blame game as its members rushed to leaveDC CAPITAL Washington, DC. It didn’t matter that these same legislators hadn’t passed a budget since their election. Once again, Congress has proven it doesn’t have to live with the consequences of its own acts—unlike the average American citizen.

Members of Congress have repeatedly said scare tactics were and are being used to avoid a stalled budget. But then these same congressional members cried wolf and declared they had no notice of what might really happen should the sequestration move into place.

The most visible and compelling argument to date concerns air traffic controllers. Why wasn’t Congress warned of the devastating impact budget cuts would have? After all, members of Congress were due to leave DC on Friday afternoon and the one thing they didn’t want to deal with at their respective airports was delayed or cancelled flights.

Bottom line, Congress was warned and repeatedly. Its members knew more than half of the nation’s 2.1 million government workers would be facing furloughs if agencies, including the Department of Transportation, were forced to trim budgets.

The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) could not implement furloughs until April, 2013, due to a law requiring it to give its employees advance notice.

Congress demanded Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to find another way to trim the budget at the FAA. The clock was ticking. Members of Congress were packed and more than ready to leave town. A town where nothing worked the way it’s supposed to work.

As a former director of a large government agency, I faced severe budget cuts annually. As was the FAA, I was often told parts of my existing budget was hands off. In other words, I could not touch certain portions of my existing budget to fund continuing or future operational needs. I always knew I had to take drastic measures to continue to meet mission requirements. I didn’t moan and groan. My comptroller and I met late into the night for weeks to draft acceptable solutions. The tasks before us often seemed ruthless, but we had a job to do and we accomplished it.

The air traffic controllers went back to work, but at what cost? Congress has authorized monies from other FAA mission-essential requirements be diverted to controller salaries. Does this mean air traffic controllers will no longer receive up-to-date training because those funds are now being used for salaries? What about the monies formerly set aside for routine maintenance on equipment used by the controllers? It’s been stated the equipment will no longer receive routine maintenance.

As a traveler, I agree there’s nothing more aggravating than delayed flights. But I’d rather have my flight delayed knowing the equipment the air traffic controllers need is properly maintained. This is not an acceptable area for cost-cutting measures.

The FAA cannot meet sequester requirements by trimming their budget within the office-supplies area. Training of employees has already been eliminated. What will happen to the economy of and around smaller airfields if their air traffic controllers are eliminated? And how many runways at large airfields can we safely close? Will air travel as a whole still be safe?

I wonder—did members of Congress arrive home and on time this past weekend? They managed to push through a last-minute vote to restructure the requirements for the FAA. It’s amazing—or perhaps not—how Congress can suddenly pull together so quickly to fix something when it impacts them directly. But what about their constituents?

Please join me next Monday for a continuing discussion on the effects sequestration may have on your everyday life.

About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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  1. According to the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) our government is filled with folks suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder! “People with antisocial personality disorder have been described as lacking empathy (or the ability to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” to understand their feelings), and they may often be deceitful or break the law. Antisocial personality disorder is also associated with irresponsible behavior, and lack of remorse.” And those of us who keep voting them into office are diagnosed as just plain nuts! Great Post, Sheri!

  2. Denise Hisey says:

    Classic – a bunch of ostriches hoping the crisis will pass while they hide their eyes.

  3. Carolyn Dekat says:

    You have clearly shown how difficult it is to have peace and security when the law of selfishness and/or greed rules.

  4. Sheri, you are an educated and informed voice on these issues of government and bureaucracy. Thanks for helping to make the issues clearly translated into layman’s terms!

  5. I find it sad that the constituents keep voting these same clowns back into office. They are like cockroaches, you just can’t get rid of them. Nobody says anything and the hole gets deeper. It’s scary what passes as acceptable.

    • I’ll agree to that. I believe the media makes it too difficult for
      an upstanding citizen to run for office.

      • I also think that the common, everyday working men and women, are struggling so hard to stay afloat, that they do not have the time or take the time to realize what is being done to them…either that…or they are too tired to fight. I am from Wisconsin–I was a teacher for 36 years–only the last 26 in the public schools. Our present Governor Walker is destroying our schools and has made the teachers and public state employees the poster children for the economic problems that we face. He is part of the corruption and I do not understand HOW he survived the recall! Rep. Paul Ryan–another friend of Gov. Walker–is frightening! The ideology of both is self-aggrandizement, greed and ruthless at best! There is no sense of caring for the poor, the sick, the elderly, the disenfranchised…I do not know what to do to fight it…and I and so many others. I feel we have returned to the feudal system of the Middle Ages–Congressmen the crown princes and princesses…unfortunately, a few of the women have let us down. I write silly love poems because my heart is so sad and I do not know what to do! I fought with words here and there…and my life has not been easy…and my last seven years of teaching were made to be pure hell for no other reason than I cared about kids! I have seen it happen to other teachers in so many of the schools—anyone who really sticks their neck out and cares about the students is beaten down and gotten rid of one way or another. Reminiscent of Hitler’s Germany…destroy the education of the people and the thinking is curtailed. Destroy the unions and we have no strength as individuals. Opps…guess I have gone on too long…I appreciate your candor and informative articles! You write everything so well and clearly!

        • Thank you for caring. I firmly believe we will turn against ourselves out of pure frustration if we don’t continue to fight. One another note, our world needs your love poems. When I opened my iPad last night and one of your poems was the first blog for me to read, it somehow allowed me to receive the beautiful photos others had posted from around the world and words others had written and for a couple hours my mind knew peace. I’ve never know our country to be in such a corrupt place and many are willing to give up and hide behind closed doors. I have a dear friend that’s retiring from teaching this year because the state is making it more and more difficult to teach the children she loves. I have younger friends that are now deciding to home school their children. These friends have had their children in private schools and are afraid to move them to public schools. I must admit, I’m not sure what I would do if I were faced with the decision in today’s world. On another note, I watched part of the NRA convention last night and it alarms me as I see more and more individuals arm themselves with automatic weapons, yet they’ve no idea of how to use them and they certainly have no purpose.

  6. nothing less than corruption in full blast!

  7. More basic than fussing about air traffic controllers, we need to go back and see how this current resident of the White House managed to drag us from an almost balanced budget to ANNUAL deficits exceeding a TRILLION dollars.

    • David – I don’t like the current political situation any more than you do. However, we must remember that it was Bush and not Obama that drove the bus over the cliff and we went straight into financial mismanagement. Bush and his ‘boys’ knew they were lying to the American people but they went to war for the money. Now they have retired as fat cats and left the rest of us holding the kitty litter.

      • Sheri, EXACTLY! I agree with your opinions. I am glad that you are courageous enough to state it and I find your statements very credible, as you were actually working in government. It is so sad what our nation has become.

  8. Patti – Well said. Considering we haven’t had a balanced budget since Clinton was president, I’m not expecting another one soon. In my opinion, our hopes of ever having a budget to support and protect our country went away when President Bush sent our troops to Iraq. We were supposed to be in and out and here we are more than a decade later–still with troops on the ground. Thank you for reading with me today.

    • Of course, the balanced budget Clinton get credit for was the work of a Republican Congress and rode the dying coattails of Reagan’s prosperity.

      • David – It’s always been interesting to me that it was former Secretary of The Army (who served under Obama) who earlier had served under Clinton, Panetta, that boasted about balancing the budget. Panetta went to Washington, DC on the coattails of Clinton after he sold out Fort Ord, CA (the only light infantry our military had in existance). Shame on him. Panetta balanced the budget by destroying stratigic military commands and I think we can all see where that has led.

  9. Sheri, don’t you find it ironic that the same government that has spent billions to create HOmeland Security, search for non-existent weapons of mass destruction, fight in two countries searching for one man … can’t find a way to balance their own budge???

    I think since the American pubic was misled by the Bush admin. and we actually don’t need the strong-arm tactics of HOmeland Security, we should go back to letting the FBI and CIA do their half assed job of protecting us. Does it make sense that the one agency we should be spending more money on is the one congress is willing to descimate? Oh, balderdash … I’d love to smack the lot of them 🙂

    • Florence – Yes, I totally agree with you about the Bush administration misleading our country. He and many of his close friends made millions from the invasion of Iraq and friendly (but corrupt contractors are still making millions).Homeland Security is out of money and illegal immigrants are being turned out of prisons by the thousands that were incarcerated for felony charges. We aren’t deporting them, they are being released to the communities where they commited their crimes. This is not a warm fuzzy for me. Homeland Security cannot keep us safe at home, how can the agency keep us safe from terrorist?

  10. sspjlife56 says:

    I don’t think the government really cares that much about us

  11. Sheri, this behavior by Congress is truly abominable. I agree with you that there are agencies whose budget cuts affect us in a dangerous way, like the FAA cutbacks. And it is the job of our congressional leaders to create a budget that is safe and sound for us, their constituents. The fact they can get things done quickly when it directly affects them is laughable, when it’s actually not funny at all.

  12. Sheri, I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment! This idea of government officials first and constituents last has got to stop.

    There was a push through email recently – don’t know if you have seen it – calling for a 28th Amendment. This amendment says something like this: Congress shall make no law that does not also equally apply to them as well. This shines even brighter even now since we heard there was a rumor that Congress and their staff want to find a way to get “out” of Obamacare. . .
    This too is unacceptable, if they don’t want it then we don’t want it.


    • Hello Sandy – Yes, I saw the petition for the 28th Amendment. It has become vitally important for ‘the people’ to be aware of what’s being pushed through legislation administratively. It’s difficult for the average citizen to keep up with because unless we spend hundreds of hours doing research, we never know a bill exists until it’s to late. Like you, ir Congress and their staff want to get ‘out’ of Obamacare then let me out also. I’ve never thought it was the answer to healthcare reform for our country. We are already seeing doctors closing shop and saying they’d rather teach or go into research. The fallout is just beginning. Thank you so much for stopping by and adding to this discussion.

  13. Wouldn’t it have been grand if the flights home for the congressmen had been permanently delayed until they actually did their jobs? One can dream.

    • Renee – Yes indeed. I’d hoped this congress would actually do something and I hate to put it in print – but I’ve given up. The thing that troubles me the most is that the system actually works. We have men and women that refuse to allow our government to work for us. Thank you for droppping by.

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