White House Warns of Air Travel Delays Without Budget Deal

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Feb. 23 2013 7:47 AM

White House Warns of Air Travel “Calamity” if Congress Doesn't Reach Deal on Budget Cuts

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U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood answers questions during a briefing as the White House on Friday

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

It’s a common complaint that regular people just don’t care about the sequester, the across-the-board spending cuts that are set to begin in less than a week and could be devastating for the economy. Some have tried to get people interested by explaining the convoluted budget issue with the help of beautiful people. For its part, the White House seems to hope people will start caring a bit more if something they already dread could become even worse: Air travel. Republican Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned on Friday that the sequester would force dozens of control towers to close down, leading to delayed or canceled flights, reports Politico. Delays could be as long as 90 minutes during peak periods, he warned.

President Obama devoted his weekly address to the sequester, and called on Republicans to compromise in order to make sure the $85 billion of spending cuts don’t start coming into effect on March 1. (Watch the address after the jump.) But despite the tough talk there seems to be little optimism that anything can be done to avert the cuts. Obama apparently told Democratic governors that the public pressure on Republicans hasn’t produced results and the two sides are nowhere near a compromise, reports the New York Times.

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Meanwhile, governors are moving to become influential voices in the fight, trying to get lawmakers to do whatever is necessary to prevent the cuts from going into effect. As they gather in Washington this weekend for the annual meeting of the National Governors Association there is little doubt it's their top concern. Both Republican and Democratic governors condemned the looming spending cuts, reports the Associated Press. And the attitude is hardly surprising. States across the country are “increasingly alarmed” that the spending cuts will devastate their fragile economies, reports the New York Times, with some warning that it could sink them back into a recession.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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