Daily Kos: FAA shutdown proves GOP is not serious about debt reduction

"But even that could be chalked up to hardball politics. What is unassailable, however, is that this pretend effort to cut $16.5 million from the budget is costing the U.S. $30 million each day. That's $150 million per week. $600 million per month.

"In other words, that $16.5 million the GOP wants to pretend cut from the budget would be paid in half a day of taxes," Moulitsas continued. "So once again, the Republicans don't care about making government solvent, as their actions are adding to its deficit. They are on an ideological crusade against organized workers, and if it adds to the nation's red ink, they simply don't care."

Moulitsas said the partial shutdown of the FAA also showed that businesses would not pass on tax savings to consumers. Several airlines have raised fares since 4,000 FAA workers were furloughed last week to maximize profits from money that would normally be paid into the Aviation Trust Fund — if Congress had approved an authorization bill for the agency.

"This tenet has always been among the most ridiculous, and this current ordeal proves it," Moulitsas wrote. "So next time you hear Republicans pretend to care about the deficit, or claim that lowering business taxes would benefit consumers, just remember what's happening at the FAA today."

Earlier Thursday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said airlines should not keep money that would normally come from taxes on airplane ticket purchases.

"These are people who are planning a vacation," he said during the White House press briefing Thursday. "People who are buying tickets, who are living on a budget.

"That's not right and I've made that known to them," LaHood said of the airlines.

The Aviation Trust Fund, which paid for the furloughed FAA workers until a bill that authorized the money to be collected and spent expired last week, collects about $200 million a week from taxes on airplane ticket purchases.

The money has not been deposited into the trust for almost a week because the last appropriations bill for the FAA expired last Friday at midnight. The House and Senate could not agree by then on a new measure, and the chambers are still gridlocked almost a week later.

The problem is a provision in the House version of a short-term extension of the FAA funding bill that eliminates some subsidies for rural air service through the Essential Air Service program. A longer-term bill has been bogged down by a House effort to undo rules on unionization of railroad and airline employees that would make it harder for them to vote to collectively bargain.

The FAA has not had a long-term authorization bill since the last measure that was passed in 2004 expired in 2007.