Congressman Tom Petri joined with Taxpayers for Common Sense, Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen and the Heartland Institute at a press conference Tuesday to release a report on wasteful and environmentally harmful spending.
The "Green Scissors" report makes the case that the federal government can help protect the nation's natural resources, reduce the growth of government spending, and make a significant dent in the national debt by eliminating $380 billion of unnecessary spending over five years.
Petri, the chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, spoke in opposition to the Essential Air Service program. The EAS was created in response to the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 due to concerns that airlines, now free to choose which routes they would fly, might stop servicing smaller airports. The program provides a subsidy to airlines that operate flights from non-hub airports that are 90 miles or more from the nearest large or medium hub airport.
"It's really not 'Essential Air Service,'" said Petri. "It really was a transitional air service program that was set up 40 years ago when we deregulated aviation. That deregulation caused some hardship in certain isolated communities, and an effort was made to subsidize service on a temporary basis to those communities to allow a transition."
"It's 40 years later," he continued. "It has turned into a kind of a cookie jar for various legislators, and has grown rather than diminished. Congress is now beginning to address that. It will be a fight, but at least paring it back and making it more responsible is a worthy goal."