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Flight delays: Is Obama furloughing air traffic controllers for political gain?

By John Terbush – The Week

Republicans claim the White House is exploiting mandatory budget cuts for leverage
Is President Obama behind the recent spate of airline delays?

This week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began furloughing workers because of mandatory budget cuts that kicked in this year as part of so-called sequester. And some Republican lawmakers are charging that the furloughs aren’t necessary, but are rather a political stunt intended to irk Americans and turn them against the GOP ahead of future budget talks.
The FAA is requiring that all of its 47,000 employees take one day off every two weeks, part of an effort to achieve the $637 million in cuts the agency must make by the end of September. That includes all 15,000 air traffic controllers, whose diminished presence on Monday was blamed for delays at some major airports. The FAA announced Tuesday that staff reductions had so far caused 1,200 delays.

… Republicans contend that the agency should be able to find other ways to achieve the necessary across-the-board cuts. The Republican-led House Transportation Committee has suggested a few other places the FAA could cut spending without affecting personnel, with the committee’s chair, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Penn.), arguing in a statement that the FAA had the “the flexibility to reduce costs elsewhere.”

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