The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

February 13, 2011

Our View: Use sense in EAS cuts

JOPLIN, Mo. — Typically we believe that less government is more. But, in the case of airport subsidies, we need to apply some common sense.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., addressed the Senate last week on a bill that would amend the Essential Air Service program, cutting a large chunk in subsidies from the program.

McCain is proposing an amendment that would eliminate the $200 million program, as he feels it’s unnecessary and has outlived its purpose.

McCain says he feels the program promotes needless government spending at a time when voters are calling for less.

Towns like Joplin that have great promise for business growth deserve the chance to have and support an airline. If it is too difficult to do business in Joplin, then business will go elsewhere. Without new business and job growth, it will put a much heavier burden on all of us.

The Essential Air Service Act was enacted in 1978 to ensure that smaller communities would retain a link to a national air transportation system with federal subsidized funds where necessary. As recently as 2001, Joplin’s air traffic exceeded 60,000 passengers. We know that the opportunity is here for us to successfully support an airline carrier.

We do, however, believe that there has to be a common-sense approach to all subsidies that support business and community growth. Benchmarks should and need to be tied to the success of all government subsidized programs.

The proposed EAS budget cut is roughly $200 million. It does not take a genius to realize that in light of our $1.5 trillion deficit this is merely a drop in the bucket. Especially when you see other albatrosses that should be addressed. The EAS program, like all government programs, needs to be reviewed. Have the expected benchmarks been met? Is the addition of an airline impacting job creation and stimulating the economy? Is the airline service accomplishing its goals?

This recommendation is representative of what is wrong with government. The government is the only entity that measures its success on how much money it spends. To cut just to make cuts does not make sense. Instead government needs to look at spending closely — just like the private business sector does — and determine what makes sense and what is the true impact of the programs on economic growth.

Only then can we make recommendations on what and where we should cut. Let’s not be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to supporting towns such as Joplin.

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