Gregory Asks LaHood: 'Do You Really Think Americans Think Government Can't Tighten Up a Bit?'

As NewsBusters has been reporting this weekend, some media members have been surprisingly breaking ranks with President Obama concerning administration claims that the world will come to an end if budget sequestration goes ahead this coming Friday.

NBC's David Gregory also appears to be feeling the White House's position is overblown and asked Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Sunday's Meet the Press, "Do you really think Americans think that government can't tighten up a bit?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

DAVID GREGORY, HOST: Here’s the reality. This is two percent of your budget. A billion dollars is a lot of money to anybody, right, but relative to the federal budget, it's relatively small. Why instead of worrying about dire consequences aren't you and your managers coming up with the best way to make these cuts that protect essential services?

Good question. Here was LaHood's answer:

RAY LAHOOD, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: We are going to protect essential services and we're going to look at all of our contracts. We're going to look at all non-personnel items that we can. But in the end, the largest amount of money is in the personnel area, and our controllers represent 15,000 of the 47,000 people at FAA. And the point is that the sequester doesn't allow us to move money around. That's the difference here. If we could shift money around, certainly we would do that. These are very tough decisions. But they have to be made. But it can all be brought to a halt when the Congress comes back this week and Republicans and Democrats do what they’ve been able to do in the past, talk to one another, work with one another, compromise with the president who’s put a plan on the table.

GREGORY: But Republicans, your former colleagues, former Republican members of Congress, are saying, wait a minute, Mr. Secretary, this is a bit overblown. This is a transportation committee putting out a statement that reads in part the following, "We're disappointed by the administration creating alarm about sequestration's impact on aviation…Prematurely outlining the potential impacts before identifying other savings is not helpful. ..Today's exaggerations are not backed up by any real financial data. The agency is well positioned to absorb spending reductions without compromising the safety or efficiency of the national airspace system.”

They go on to point out that FAA has received significant funding increases in recent years. Over the last ten years the FAA’s annual budget has increased almost $3 billion or 41 percent. Do you really think Americans think that government can't tighten up a bit, even if it's a pretty clumsy way of doing it with the sequester?

Great questions.

Much as CNN's Candy Crowley did with LaHood earlier in the day, Gregory actually used real budget figures to point out just how absurd the administration's position is on this matter.

The question is why have media members waited until now to ask such questions?

How much different would the public's awareness of the truth regarding this matter be if folks like Gregory, Crowley, and the Washington Post's Bob Woodward had been pounding the table about this for months?

Why did they all wait until after the election and after Obama's second inauguration to start presenting some inconvenient truths to the American people?

On the other hand, Gregory did spend a good amount of time Sunday pushing for Republicans to give in to the President's demands for higher taxes. This despite taxes having just been raised at the beginning of the year.

As such, irrespective of this surprising clarity regarding the administration's fearmongering, Gregory still wants your taxes to go up.

What a shock, huh?

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