For four long years prior to 2011, the Democrats ignored the FAA’s mismanagement of our nation’s air traffic control modernization program and we ended up with more delays and cost overruns. After the 2010 mid-term elections, Republicans took control of the House and eventually worked out a bipartisan, bicameral, fiscally prudent FAA reauthorization package, which included some of the most significant reforms of aviation programs in history. We responsibly moved safety modernization and next generation air traffic control forward. We then led the charge in passing long-stalled surface transportation legislation.
The issue at hand is whether the American taxpayer can or should continue to allow our government to borrow billions of dollars while continuing to fund programs the Obama Administration has failed to properly oversee and manage. As strong champions of modernizing our antiquated air traffic system, Republicans have done more than point fingers, delay and blame others. Our aviation system is vital to our nation’s economy and accounts for nearly 10% of our Gross Domestic Product, but Democrats had left it behind. We simply cannot afford to continue to let the current administration mismanage our transportation programs. Just examine the facts and you will see who really moves America’s transportation policy and projects forward.
To help improve NextGen, the FAA should focus on what they do best: act as a safety regulatory agency for the flying public and set safety and operational standards for the modernization of the nation’s air traffic control system. They should no longer be solely responsible for managing the implementation of complex technical space-based projects for which they have had a very poor and costly track record under both Republican and Democrat administrations.
Instead we should leverage private sector expertise to more efficiently implement these programs and use innovative financing tools like public private partnerships so we can get this job done on time and under budget. I believe this is the responsible path that Governor Romney and Paul Ryan should pursue in order to help create more private sector jobs for Americans. The old and tired way of doing business just doesn’t work anymore and should be left at the gate.
Mica is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.