Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hair on fire

It’s time for Idahoans to crank up the e-mail, pick up the phone, find their congressman’s or senator’s website comment area, or put pen to paper and send overnight letters to the their congressional delegation and strenuously object to the mindless and destructive cuts to federal spending known as “the sequester” that will go into effect Friday if Congress refuses to act.

Any question that the blind, across-the-board cuts in domestic spending will not affect out-of-the-way places like Idaho went out the window Friday when the Obama administration issued lists of cuts.

Locally, the control tower at Friedman Memorial Airport that serves the Sun Valley area could become one of 100 in the U.S. that will be closed, though both commercial and private planes may still be able to operate, according to airport officials.

The announcement set local business owners’ hair on fire. Combined with the other potential effects of a $600 million funding cut on the Federal Aviation Administration, which is the key player in the airport’s cloudy future, it sparked more than just a few figurative conflagrations.

In comments to the Idaho Statesman, economist Peter Crabb of Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa cautioned people not to overreact to the possible cuts, saying no one can predict what effect the sequester will have on the economy. He said it’s possible the cuts might not even be felt.

Crabb and Idaho’s Republican senators and congressmen need to snap out of their collective coma.

Neither the nation nor the Sun Valley area needs the fear and anxiety that coursed through Main Streets all over the country with the realization that the sequester is likely to happen.

Steady markets require confidence of small-business owners who abhor disruptions and of consumers who have a tendency to curl up in tight little balls and stay home instead of vacationing if they see threats to their finances, employment or quality of life looming. None of this is good for the tourism on which the majority of local businesses and employees depend.

Sen. James Risch, Sen. Mike Crapo, Rep. Mike Simpson and Rep. Raul Labrador need to hear their constituents’ pain and quit acting like the sequester is just a little dose of some foul but necessary medicine.

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