ND Senate Candidates: Wasteful Federal Spending Is Ok As Long As Its Wasteful Spending In North Dakota
I’ve spent a good deal of time documenting what a colossal waste of federal money the Essential Air Service program is in North Dakota. Two of the state’s airports receive the subsidies, Jamestown and Devils lake, and it amounts to a subsidy of hundreds of dollars per passenger.
EAS flights out of Devils Lake are subsidized to the tune of $2,123 per flight, according to documents from the Department of Transportation, and ever flight out of Jamestown takes with it $3,929.
The average number of passengers on flights out of Devils Lake and Jamestown, from 2006 to 2011, was 6.24 and 3.83 respectively. That works out to a per-passenger, per-flight subsidy of $340 for Devils Lake, and over $1,000 for Jamestown.
It would be cheaper to just give these passengers a gas voucher to drive to one of the state’s larger airports.
So how do North Dakota’s Senate candidates feel about these massive subsidies in the context of our nation running a budget deficit of well over $1 trillion? Rick Berg thinks EAS subsidies in other states have problems, but not in North Dakota:
Nationally, there are some issues with Essential Air Service but I don’t see anything changing for North Dakota and I don’t see any concern here for Jamestown. As far as regional airports are concerned, it’s a critical link for business here … so those in North Dakota, and certainly Jamestown, would be at the top of the priority list.”
How about Berg’s allegedly more conservative Republican challenger Duane Sand? He can’t quite muster the gumption to directly criticize these subsidies either:
“Everything should be on the table, especially in terms of issues like how to fund Essential Air Service. What I’ve always said is that I’m interested in solutions that all forms of government can afford. If it makes sense to borrow money to fund it, then it has to be an option, but if it doesn’t then we have to consider that option as well.”
That’s a punt if I’ve ever heard one. And, of course, liberal Democrat Heidi Heitkamp has no problems with this sort of waste, but she adds a new twist: These subsidies are infrastructure.
“I support the Essential Air Service program and I’ll fight to make sure that North Dakota receives its fair share of funding. Everyone understands we need to get our budget under control but we must maintain the transportation infrastructure.”
We can talk about what a roaring bunch of hypocrites these candidates are, railing against national fiscal problems but endorsing wasteful spending in their own back yards, but really it’s we voters who are the problem.
These candidates are pandering. They feel like they can’t come out against this sort of spending without losing voter support. The not-in-my-back-yard attitude about cutting this sort of spending doesn’t originate with them. It originates with the electorate.
We, the people, are hypocrites when it comes to government spending. We all want spending cut, but specifically we want other people’s spending cut. And we elect politicians who will pander to that hypocrisy, and when those politicians get to Washington it’s little wonder they can’t balance the budget.Tags: deficits, duane sand, essential air service, Heidi Heitkamp, national debt, North Dakota News, Rick Berg