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Morning Joe
updated 4/25/2013 10:49:36 AM ET 2013-04-25T14:49:36

Sen. Pat Toomey slammed the president on Morning Joe for the FAA's flight delays—furloughing air traffic controllers is an 'extremely irresponsible' and politically-motivated move, he said.

Let us know in the comments below if you’re experiencing flight delays.

Lawmakers slammed Obama for manufacturing flight delays following the furlough of Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey said the president was “manufacturing a crisis for political gain” on Wednesday’s Morning Joe.

The FAA has required that all of its 47,000 employees—including its 15,000 air traffic controllers—to take one day off every two weeks, as part of a plan to save $637 million in cuts by the end of September. On Tuesday, the FAA announced that these staff reductions had caused “more than 1,200 delays in the system,” in just one day of furloughing employees. (There were an additional 1,400 delays due to weather.)

“The president, frankly, and many in his administration were so shrill about this leading up to the sequester that now they feel like they better make it painful or they look pretty foolish having predicted all the dire consequences,” Toomey said, adding that Obama’s budget proposal gives the agency even less money than they have now, with the sequester in effect.

“This is extremely irresponsible, to implement these modest savings in the most disruptive way when there are so many alternatives. The FAA operates a fleet of 26 jets—they spend $143 million a year on that, they have half a billion dollars in consultants they pay. The air traffic controllers are less than a third of all the employees of the FAA. If some people need to be furloughed, couldn’t it be the nonessential employees?” Toomey said on Wednesday’s Morning Joe. “The president is choosing to make it disruptive.”

Toomey’s Pennsylvania colleague, Rep. Bill Shuster, another Republican who chairs the House Transportation Committee, released a statement slamming the administration and demanding different cuts to achieve the statement.

“This disregard for the American public is indicative that the administration views the sequester as an attempt to score political points rather than address real issues and find real savings in a bloated federal bureaucracy,” he wrote.

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler fact-checked the dramatic dispute and noted that the FAA’s budget isn’t nearly as simple as lawmakers say: what is dubbed “consultant fees” are telecommunications and weather radar systems integral to the system and the travel costs decried by Shuster primarily pay for the transportation of repair workers, according to the FAA.

“The biggest issue for the FAA is that 71% of its operations budget goes to pay salaries for controllers, supervisors, air safety inspectors and technicians. When an agency with high personnel costs is asked to cut about 5% of its annual budget in just seven months, by definition a large chunk of that has to come from personnel,” Kessler wrote. While he held off from issuing his traditional “Pinocchio” rating until more data is available, he writes that “on balance, the FAA makes a better case.”

White House Spokesman Jay Carney responded to the flight delays in a press briefing on Tuesday.

“Now, if Congress has another idea about how to alleviate the challenges that sequester has caused for the FAA and for American travelers, we are open to looking at that. And we’re happy to look at it,” Carney said. “But let’s be clear: This — if they were to take that action — and we would be open to looking at it — any short-term or targeted fix to this problem is just a Band-Aid because the fact is there are a variety of, a broad variety of negative effects of sequester.”

Video: Sen. Toomey: Polarization the reason for background check defeat

  1. Closed captioning of: Sen. Toomey: Polarization the reason for background check defeat

    >> from capitol hill , republican senator from pennsylvania , senator pat toomey . he of course, was in the news last week for his extraordinarily courageous position on background check and to extraordinarily and may be more extraordinary by the fact that in your state of pennsylvania , pat toomey , 5% of pennsylvanians opposed your position. i, of course, kid. it's surreal to us, pat, and we are going to talk about the travel issue in a second. it is surreal to us. 91% of gun owners in virginia support background checks . 80% of texans support a background check on all gun purchases. you look at these polls. these polls are actually more sweeping than the legislation that you and joe manchin did. 84% in arkansas. background checks on all gun buyers, all gun buyers. again, more comprehensive than your bill. montana 79%. north dakota 94%. texas 80%. in south carolina , 87%. pat, before be go we go on and talk about travel, i know that's why you came on today, please tell us why the disconnect and will we see another vote in this session of congress on background checks ?

    >> well, joe , you suggested in pennsylvania . i haven't seen actual numbers but you suggested 95% supported, 5% oppose. i would suggest that we heard from the 5% who oppose several times from each one of them. it was a much more vocal and much more passiona expression from that camp. in 1989 they supported background checks and republicans overwhelmlying voted for it including myself on the house floor and now everybody's hair is on fire about it and i think it's the poliarization.

    >> supported bans on assault weapons and so about ronald reagan . it's pretty remarkable how the debate has changed.

    >> and the background checks specifically -- see, i would argue that is not even a form of gun control .

    >> it is not.

    >> it does not restrict any law abiding citizens this justice selis a scalia wrote that in the heller decision. i'm disappointed with the way it turned out.

    >> do we have another vote? do you think there could be another vote? you were rushed. you were rushed. i think there was a false deadline put in place. do you think we have a chance before the end of the year to have another vote on this?

    >> you know, there is always a chance, joe . one of the things that certainly set us back is that the early leaks about potential deal led to gross misaccurate characterizations of the legislation. it's hard to make a sell when you're in that environment so maybe is there still a chance.

    >> we will get to airports, i promise you. mike barnicle has a quick question.

    >> senator, what impact, if any, do you think it would have on the revival of this bill in the senate when and if it is revealed that the two people involved in putting together the marathon day bombings in boston obtained their weapons through the internet or through a gun show ? because both of them, neither of them were licensed in cambridge, massachusetts.

    >> so, in other words, if they were able to purchase them through a legal mechanism where a background check wasn't required? look. i think it would certainly help to underscore the importance of doing this. i think the most important thing, frankly, is members of congress need to hear from people and the people who support these background checks need to be as vocal as those who don't.

    >> pat, you make an absolute great point because i've had people ask me what happened there? and i said, well, you had senators who received ten calls against the 90% for every one call in support of the 90%. and you say that. by the way, i wasn't -- what you did actually was very courageous and i salute you for that. i was just underscoring the point that all of these senators that were afraid to follow you live in states where they ignored the overwhelming majority of their voters in favor of --

    >> like max baucus . i just don't get it. and kelly ayotte . it applies to both sides. go ahead, tom. i don't get it.

    >> i've been trying to -- senator, i've been trying to sort out the max baucus vote because i was surprised by that pole quite honestly, that showed 90% of montanans were in favor of background checks and trying deal with why he made the decision to vote against background checks . you know his statement was my job is to make sure that montanans are heard in this debate and montanans have told me loud and clear they are overwhelmingly opposed to new gun control laws and i will not support anything that enfringes on the second amendment rights of special law abiding montanans . how do you respond to him when he says that?

    >> i guess i just wish he would maybe revisit the bill that we actually wrote because it really does not enfringe on any law abiding citizens rights whatsoever and if it had, i wouldn't have supported it. trying to make it harder for people who have no legal right to have a weapon, to obtain it, that's perfect consistent with the constitution and, frankly, common sense.

    >> vocal issue again is what you said.

    >> as you said, justice scalia agreed in 2008 in heller. let's turn to this airport dust-up and i've always saluted you as a true conservative. you didn't bend with the wind like most republicans did when george w. bush was president. you remained a fiscal conservative . so, i guess, you probably would agree with me that with a 3.54 trillion budget this year, i'm not buying that the administration and congress can't find enough money to keep our air traffic control towers staffed.

    >> joe , this is a complete no-brainer. we have a federal government that has more than doubled in size more than 100% growth in spending the last 12 years and now we are told we can't trim 2.5% of that. here is what i think is a little known fact that is pretty compelling about why the administration is clearly manufacturing a crisis for political gain. take a look at the faa budget. if the sqest goes through and stays in place the faa will have more money to spend in 2013 than what the president asked for in his budget submission.

    >> hold on. hold on. stop. because sometimes there are things that are said that need to be repeated.

    >> okay.

    >> i want you --

    >> really?

    >> let's have three seconds of silence. then i want you to repeat that again. 1-2-3, go.

    >> yeah. if the sequester goes into effect and stays into effect and the savings are achieved, the faa , for this year, will have more money to spend than what the president asked for in his budget submission. i think that tells you all you need to know .

    >> pat, how many times have you and i heard people in the media and on both sides, depending on what committee they are on, screaming about massive spending cuts and how locust we are going to descend from the skies and eat flesh off of our bones? and we find out later that they have more money this year to spend than they had last year?

    >> but this is why they are doing this. precisely because the president, frankly, many in his administration, were so shrill about this leading up to the sequester. now they feel like they better make it painful or else they look pretty foolish having predicted the dire consequences. they backed themselves into a bad position where what they should have done is said, okay, let's work with congress and find the duplication, the ways and excess and cut the low priority items and can easily make due with the money that is left over.

    >> pat, are you saying that even if the sequestration goes through, the president will have more money to spend than he even asked for in his own budget? i'd like to repeat it a third. can you believe that, mika?

    >> if the faa drg that is true. that is is true.

    >> can you believe that?

    >> huh-uh.

    >> this is the scam that governments on local, state, and national levels run all the time and not to personalize this. i remember my first time, tom, i got into politics, pensacola , the city of pensacola was trying to raise taxes, property taxes 65% so i got involved in the tax revolt and we were told that tumble weeds would roll through downtown pensacola and everybody would be fired and everybody's children would be attacked in their front yards and houses would burn down. guess what? we killed the property tax increase and next week eight city managers get a 45% raise in their salary! this is why americans are so cynical when politicians talk about, oh, give us more. they are like heroin addicts. give us more money than we had last year, or we are all going to die. we don't believe it any more.

    >> i don't have to tell you or joe or mike and we have all been covering politics a long time. put it out there and try to terrify people is the worst tactic.

    >> this is just really extremely irresponsible, though, to implement these savings, these modest savings in the most disruptive way possible when there are so many alternatives. you know, the faa operates a fleet of 26 jets and spend $143 million a year on that. they have $500,000 in consultants they pay. the air traffic controllers are less than a third of all the employees of the faa . if some people need it to be furloughed, shouldn't it be the nonessential employees? this could be managed. it really could. the president is choosing to make it disruptive.

    >> very few times, mike barnicle , i've said this and excited on election night when somebody gets elected and pat toomey got elected senator i was cheering for him the first time he ran and he almost beat arlen specter . when he got elected, i said, boy, we node a guy like that in pennsylvania . he is doing a great job.

    >> at some point i want to find out the $500,000 of consultants that the ffa use and do they work on lost luggage and long lines? we have got to get to that.

    >> pat, barnicle wants to know because he want to start a consulting firm .

    >> probably pretty lucrative.

    >> i bet it is. senator pat toomey , thank you very much and thank you for being here. tina brown , what is coming up today on "the daily beast "?

    >> collier was somebody in boston who might not have died if the fbi had actually identified the picture. they should have done it. they should have identified that they had interviewed that point when they saw the picture. he is somebody who could have been saved by that and they ask the question he why didn't they?

    >> thank you, tina. look for that ahead.

    >>> ahead, how one of america's greatest beer makers are helping the victims of the boston bombings. sam adams founder jim cook joins us straight ahead . we will be right back.

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