Debt & Taxes
Traffic Controller Furloughs Wreak Havoc at Airports
Tuesday, April 23, 2013 - 12:11pm
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Major airports across the country experienced flight delays on Monday-- just one day after the Federal Aviation Administration began furloughing air traffic controllers. The FAA ordered many flights be grounded due to the limited number of controllers monitoring the busy air space.

The nation’s air traffic control system is operating with 10 percent fewer controller because of the way the Department of Transportation decided to achieve the savings as part of the sequester -- across the board cuts in federal savings. The FAA said that “travelers can expect to see a wide range of delays that will change throughout the day depending on staffing and weather-related issues. There were special staffing and weather-related issues at radar centers in New York, Dallas-Fort Worth, Jacksonville and Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the airlines have filed a federal court order to block the furloughs, claiming the FAA could have met their sequester obligations in other ways without affecting the nation’s air traffic.  They imply the action is being used as a political hammer at the expense of travelers, businesses, and the airlines.

At one point, the Associated Press reported that “delays were so bad that passengers on several Washington-New York shuttle flights could have reached their destination faster by taking the train.” -  Read more at ABC News

OBAMA’s BUDGET WOULD RAISE YOUR TAXES   President Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal calls for more tax revenue from just about everyone, including middle class families, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

The majority of the tax increases would come from people earning $200,000 or more annually. The average person earning between $200,000 and $500,000 would pay an additional $2,235 in taxes, while millionaires would see their tax bills rise by $82,604 a year. But earners at nearly every income level would face a somewhat higher tax burden, according to the study.

This is because of two provisions in the president’s budget:  One would raise the price on tobacco products, affecting tobacco consumers in every tax bracket. The other would slow the increase in the value of personal exemptions and standard deductions and adjust the income thresholds, which would have the effect of shift people into higher tax brackets.   -  See the study here

BUDGET BLITZ: WILL THEY CONFERENCE?   Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will ask for consent today to convene a conference committee to reconcile the House and Senate passed budgets. House Republicans have complained that Senate Democrats hadn’t passed a budget in nearly four years before approving one last month. But now that they have, it’s unclear whether House Republicans are willing to meet with Senate leaders in a conference to thrash out the vast differences between their two budgets that were authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)   -  Read more at Politico

BOMBING VICTIMS FACE NEW NIGHTMARE: HOSPITAL BILLS    “Many of the wounded could face staggering bills not just for the trauma care they received in the days after the bombings, but for prosthetic limbs, lengthy rehabilitation and the equipment they will need to negotiate daily life with crippling injuries,” The New York Times’ Abby Goodnough reports on many of the people who were seriously injured in last week’s Boston Marathon bombings. “Even those with health insurance may find that their plan places limits on specific services, like physical therapy or psychological counseling. For at least 13 victims who lost limbs…expenses may also include renovations to their homes that make it easier for them to get around.”  -  Read more at The New York Times

ONLINE SALES TAX GAINS MOMENTUM IN SENATE    Legislation allowing states to tax online purchases soared through a procedural vote in the Senate on Monday (74-20) after President Obama endorsed the bill. The Senate will begin debate on amendments today, and the chamber is expected to hold a decisive vote on the bill later this week.  -  Read more at The Hill

GROVER NORQUIST BACKS IMMIGRATION REFORM…WAIT, WHAT? “Republicans and Democrats alike were doing double takes on Monday while the bearded Norquist sat in a Senate Judiciary Committee witness chair and offered his unalloyed support for the “Gang of Eight’s” bipartisan immigration reform legislation,” The Fiscal Times’ Eric Pianin writes. “Well, I’m a Jack Kemp-Ronald Reagan Republican, and I think that this is a bill that will spur economic growth, give people more opportunities, make the economy stronger,” replied Norquist, the powerful conservative anti-tax lobbyist who almost never supports measures favored by the Democrats.   -  Read why Norquist supports immigration reform here

Washington Correspondent Brianna Ehley, based in D.C., covers Congress, government agencies and spending issues, health care, and tax and economic policy for The Fiscal Times.