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The day after Ray LaHood, secretary of the Department of Transportation, held a press conference at the White House, newspapers in communities across the United States told readers about what impending cuts to the Department of Transportation would mean to nearby airports.
“Spending Cuts Could Shutter Fort Smith Airport Tower,” read The Times Record, in Fort Smith, AK.
“Airport Cuts Loom Without Federal Budget Deal,” announced Tulsa World.
“Victoria Regional Airport Could Lose Funding For Air Traffic Controllers,” in the Victoria Advocate in Victoria, TX.
“Cuts Could Close Airport Tower,” from Messenger-Inquirer in Owensboro, KY.
“Automatic U.S. Cuts Would Hit Michigan Air Travelers,” from Detroit Free Press
“Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport Tower Could Close,” says The Janesville Gazette in Janesville, Wisconsin.
The headlines are similare across over 200 communities in the U.S.
The Obama administration was looking for a way to make the sequestration cuts hit close to home and it found them with transportation.
Although travelers may immediately get angry at the federal government for Transportation and Security Administration failures, they immediately go local to blame congressmen and women when they’re delayed by sixty minutes, or when flights are cut because budget shortfalls close airports.
The ongoing discussion is heightened by the fact that the Transportation Secretary is a Republican, and in this ongoing partisan debate he has some extra political capital to play. Although a member of the Obama administration, his remarkable success at the DOT has catapulted him to a position where he has more options open to him than the average outgoing cabinet secretary.
But his pivotal role makes it clear: Transportation policy will continue to be front and center for the U.S. as the sequester debate continues.