Congressman John Mica (R-Florida) has decided its time to pull the plug on federal assistance for rural air service. What House Republicans really want is for Congress to make it harder for air and train workers to unionize, in exchange for extending the life of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Failing that, Mr. Mica, the transportation chair, wants an end to government support of more than $1,000 a ticket in far-flung airports. “I want to see folks come down here and vote to continue subsidies for more than $1,000,” he told reporters yesterday. That limit would hurt travelers and airports in Nevada, New Mexico and Montana – states represented by powerful Senate Democrats who haven’t agreed to Mr. Mica’s anti-union terms.
With a price tag of $1.2 billion at completion, the rail line is expected to serve just 2,150 commuters a day when it starts operating in three years. It will not link to the Orlando airport or Disney World, among the region’s biggest traffic generators.
You can divide that $1.2 billion over any number of time periods and get to a per-ticket subsidy of way over $1,000. The point is not whether the U.S. needs to invest in infrastructure – we do. The point is that Mr. Mica is drawing a political line, not a magic one.
(On the show: GOP anti-union fervor threatens FAA.)