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5/4/2013
Time to choose

Budget cuts are difficult.

No doubt about it.

But, clearly, the federal government — like the state and local communities — will continue to be required to cut.

The United States is spending too much. Spending exceeds income. Taxpayers who indeed pay their taxes can't cover the costs of the federal government. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, while in Ketchikan this week, said that if Congress plugged the tax loopholes that allow some taxpayers to avoid paying, that would go a long way in solving the shortage.

But at the rate the government is spending and the daily increase in the national debt, clearly restraint is necessary. Federal shortages will be even worse next year unless cuts are made today.

It made one's head spin to see how quickly Congress can act when its members — Democrats and Republicans — hear from angry constituents. Case in point: the furloughs of Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers. Air traffic from one coast to the other slowed down. Of course, when not wanting to accept budget cuts, the way to put the pressure on the politicians to is to apply the cut to the most publicly visible service. It worked for the FAA last week.

This week the National Weather Service is alarmed by furloughs, and as with the FAA, a dire situation is being described.

Once again the "American public" — the NWS' word choice — is at risk, and lives and property are in jeopardy. "Emergency essential" NWS personnel are being furloughed.

"Commerce, air travel, and most daily events hinge on accurate forecasts," the release states. "The forecasts become life savers in the summer when floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, heat waves, wildfires and thunderstorms are most prevalent."

The Weather Service has reduced staffing at forecast offices nationwide over the past two years. The furloughs are on top of those reductions.

The weather service is pointing to flight delays, too. With less accurate aviation forecasts, not only could delays occur, but the likelihood of weather-related accidents increases. This doesn't pertain only to aviation, but affects marine industries and firefighting as well. With less employee time, not as much forecasting will be done and the likelihood of errors increases, according to the press release.

That's the truth.

No matter which government service is asked to make cuts, there will be consequences. All of them will have a story to tell as to why they should be exempt from the cuts. It's natural.

It's the same at federal, state and local levels. It's the same at private businesses, and in personal budgets.

The American people will have to make choices. Based on recent events, flight control services are a high priority. It remains to be seen how high on the list weather forecasting is. Then the next service will become the focus of public attention.

Government can print money, and it can tax for revenue. But it taxes based on income. If taxpayers don't have the income from private enterprise jobs, then they can't pay the government. If the government doesn't get paid, neither do the people who provide the government services.